Posted January 15, 2020
Recently, there have been many responses to Lucy Calkins’ essay ”No One Gets to Own the Term, Science of Reading.” Many have responded with strong disagreement to her point of view. Two of the responses are very informative and can be found here and here. More disputes to her essay can be found here. Interestingly, none of the responses that I have seen to date address Calkins’ inaccurate attack on the Reading First initiative, which was the academic cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). While there are criticisms of the NCLB Act, in fact, many educators and those directly involved with Reading First have argued that the Reading First Initiative was one of the strongest components of NCLB.
Calkins makes the following statements about Reading First.
Instead, the experiment involved tens of millions of kids. It was called Reading First, the reading instructional program for K-3 mandated in schools funded by No Child Left Behind….involved a set of top-down mandates for intensive phonics instruction that resembled what the science of reading people today are supporting. The mandates included not only intensive systematic phonics based on “the science of reading” but also an unbalanced reliance on highly decodable texts, to the exclusion of trade books…The results of Reading First were not good…the problem with Reading First was not that it taught phonics, but that phonics was largely all it taught.
Calkins makes several factual errors in her statements above which are largely based on anecdotal musings from many who didn’t like Reading First.
Posted December 3, 2019
By Dr Steven Dykstra, reprinted with permission
Don Meichenbaum, one of the world’s leading experts on trauma and violence, and one of the most influential mental health professionals of the last century, said one thing is more important to traumatized children than anything else. More important than therapy, more important than social programs, more important than anything else. The research shows that the single most powerful predictor of their ability to overcome the trauma and survive their circumstances is the ability to read. If they can read, they have a chance to find success in school and overcome all those terrible things in their lives. If they can’t, school will only be another source of pain and failure added to all the other sources of pain and failure. If they can read, they can benefit from therapy and everything else we may try to do for them. If they can’t read, all of that is a waste of time.
Posted November 25, 2019
by Claude Goldenberg, Nomellini & Olivier Professor of Education, emeritus, Stanford University
I left graduate school fully convinced that this was axiomatic: The road to reading is paved on a foundation of meaning. Fortunately, I spent the first years after my degree as a first grade teacher in a bilingual school, teaching, or at least trying to teach, reading in English and in Spanish. I learned from the children and colleagues at my school that this is not axiomatic; it is just wrong.
But my learning was not without a struggle. Axiomatic convictions don’t go away without a fight. And I fought mightily. But in the end, the evidence won out. And by evidence I don’t just mean what researchers and others publish in their articles and professors say or don’t say to their students and anyone who will listen. I also mean what I was seeing before my very eyes. As both a teacher and a beginning researcher, my convictions were put to the test, and some didn’t pan out.
Posted November 23, 2019
by Linda Diamond, President, CORE and author of Teaching Reading Sourcebook and Assessing Reading: Multiple Measures
In 1976, when news Anchor Howard Beale in the film Network yelled this famous line on air and urged everyone to open their windows and yell too, it resonated with me. It resonates even more now as once again the reading science deniers disparage those of us in the reading research community who accept the settled science on teaching reading by implying all we care about is phonics. That is a cheap shot that cannot be further from the truth. However, it is a slick strategy by the advocates of other teaching methods to belittle the rest of us and stir up anger and more sales of products that ultimately only work for a few children. This same line of resistance has been used to smear any curriculum that didn’t fit a “balanced literacy” or guided reading approach and was successfully used against a fantastic ELA curriculum, Open Court, as being only about phonics. Again, a big lie. Explicit systematic instruction, the science of reading, Structured Literacy, whatever the term, has NEVER, I repeat NEVER been all about phonics. It is about a systematic and explicit approach to developing ALL the critical literacy skills, including phonemic awareness, sound-spelling relationships, syllable patterns and morphemes, fluency, sentence and paragraph structure, vocabulary, text structure and comprehension.
Posted November 18, 2019
by Dr. Dale Webster, Chief Academic Officer, CORE
Nowadays the ability to answer text-dependent questions is essential to do well on standardized tests of all types. Students often have a difficult time using information from the text to answer comprehension questions, particularly inferential questions which require them to cross reference text and dig out answers that are not plainly stated. Question-Answer Relationships (QAR) is an instructional technique designed to teach students to use metacognitive thinking to determine what they need to do in order to answer questions commonly found on high-stakes, summative assessments.