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.
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.
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.
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.
All teachers want their students’ achievement levels to increase. Small group instruction and cooperative learning have a significant impact on student achievement (Hattie, 2009) and are widely used in elementary classrooms. Many middle and high school teachers are increasingly using these structures in other content areas. However, prior to implementing small group instruction teachers often have questions to be answered.
By Linda Diamond and Michelle Rodriguez
Numerous recent reports cite the difference in student learning that an effective curriculum can make. These reports include Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Studies, StandardsWork, Curriculum Research: What We Know and Where We Need to Go; Ashley Berner’s report in Thomas Fordham Institute’s Flypaper, August 2018; and Brookings report by Morgan Polikoff,, June 2018. After 25 years of working with school districts to help them select and implement high-quality curriculum, we agree. However, only a couple reports, the Economic Studies Brookings Report by Morgan Polikoff and Ashley Berner’s report, address a critical difficulty—ensuring teachers have sufficient content and curriculum knowledge to use and implement a standards-based curriculum with fidelity.
Students with disabilities are not making the achievement gains they should make. The achievement gap between students with disabilities and students without disabilities has remained largely unchanged despite adaptive technologies and supposedly research-based methods. But we can improve outcomes for special education students by significantly improving general education and special education together.
In addition to the Supreme Court Ruling on Special Education, Dyslexia is now a national focus. Through reading professional learning, districts can equip teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively support dyslexic students.
CORE’s Excellence in Education Blog post this month is on the impact of the Supreme Court’s Unanimous Ruling on Special Education, setting a higher standard for students with disabilities.