Posted April 16, 2020
by Linda Diamond, President, CORE and author ofTeaching Reading Sourcebook and Assessing Reading: Multiple Measures
Originally published in AASA’s The School Administrator, April 2006 Number 4, Vol. 63
Middle schools and high schools across the country face a literacy crisis of monumental proportions. Whether they are students from households where English is a second language or learning-disabled students mainstreamed into difficult classes, struggling readers demonstrate lower achievement in all academic subjects. While many poor readers have developed coping strategies, they rarely improve their academic performance or test scores.
Secondary schools are ill-equipped to help these students become better readers. And with a more diverse student population entering middle and high school than ever before, the challenge of educating under-prepared readers will only increase. Whether the problem stems from societal change, the use of instructional reading practices in elementary school lacking research support or some combination of factors, these struggling readers deserve to learn. And they can’t learn if they can’t read. Understandably, secondary school students who are reading below grade level often are unmotivated and turned off to reading. Many of them are the same students who were poor readers in 3rd grade — about 75 percent of students with reading problems in 3rd grade will still have them when they get to high school, according to Sally Shaywitz, professor of pediatrics and child study at Yale University School of Medicine. In fact, research shows that the gap between good and poor readers actually widens in later grades. READ MORE
Posted March 18, 2020
by Susan Van Zant and Nancy Volpe, Educational Services Specialists, CORE
There is no mystery about time. Students attend school a set number of hours each week and days each year. At each grade level they have a lot of skills and knowledge to learn. Establishing specific times that reading and math are taught is a good beginning. However, if time is not used efficiently during the allocated periods, student learning time is lost. Often precious minutes slip away because good time management practices are not in place.
Ten minutes might not seem like much, but it can add up. For example, students take three minutes to enter the class and quiet down, the teacher waits two minutes while three students look for their materials, a student sharpens a pencil for a minute, one group needs three minutes to transition to another, and a class disruption lasts for a minute. It all adds up. Just 10 minutes a day adds up to 50 minutes a week. In a typical school year, it would add up to about 1,800 minutes. Divide that 1,800 minutes a year by 180 days of school, and that is the equivalent of 10 school days lost. READ MORE
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 June 20, 2019
By Linda Diamond, President, CORE & Dale Webster, Chief Academic Officer, CORE
As many of our readers know, CORE has never wavered from its stance that teachers should be knowledgeable about ELA and/or math pedagogy and equally important, teachers deserve support to implement an evidence-based, standards-aligned curriculum for ELA and math. A renewed focus among educators on implementing a curriculum is a shift from the past several years where many school districts provided teachers with internally-created and loosely-designed units of study. This shift from units of study to adopting standards-aligned materials has been occurring more and more in school districts across the country and is supported by organizations such as the Gates Foundation.
Posted May 1, 2019
by Linda Diamond, President, CORE and author of the Teaching Reading Sourcebook and Assessing Reading: Multiple Measures
Back in September 2018 I wrote about the importance of selecting and fully implementing a great curriculum with excellent support and ongoing professional learning. This is a huge and important step in accelerating achievement for all students. But is that enough? The answer, unfortunately is “no.” A standards-aligned, high-quality curricula, while significantly improving outcomes for many students, will not be sufficient for those most at risk. Core curriculum is targeted at grade-level standards and will ensure all students have access to robust content, but it will not meet the needs of students who are significantly behind in their skills. Such students will still require a targeted or intensive intervention curricula that is well beyond what a standards-aligned core program can provide.