Educators know that many students will need targeted instruction next school year to close gaps in reading. But that’s not enough. Educators need to know exactly where every student is at with specific reading skills, like phonics, so that instruction can target the exact skills students need support with. That’s where reliable assessment data comes in.

In this 20-minute video, Drs. Michelle Hosp and Louisa Moats discuss why even if remote learning is still occurring, you need to continue to assess students’ reading skills. They also provide recommendations to help ensure that remote reading assessments provide the data needed to guide instruction and close gaps. (more…)

Near the start of the 2020-21 school year, El Rancho Charter Middle School in Anaheim, California, opened its doors to a hybrid model of instruction, with some students attending classes in person and some students attending simultaneously online. In this interview with Dean Ballard, CORE’s Director of Mathematics, principal Michele Walker shares the experiences at El Rancho with hybrid instruction this year — the ups and downs, challenges and successes, and tips for other educators using or considering this model of instruction. (more…)

Carrie Thomson Beckby Dr. Carrie Thomas Beck, Director of Literacy, CORE

Almost 30 years ago, I had the opportunity to work with a student I will never forget. The year was 1993 and I was a new middle school teacher in a large district in the Midwest. I was a special education teacher, providing support to students identified as having learning disabilities in grades 6–8. The student, whom I will call Dan, was a 7th grader assigned to my caseload. Dan was a bright student who was identified as having a specific learning disability (SLD) in the area of reading and received speech and language services. He was a nonreader when I met him.

I was fortunate enough to have been trained in Direct Instruction in my master’s program at the University of Wisconsin. I had just graduated from this program three years prior. I was also fortunate to have access to Corrective Reading materials in my building. I started the year by administering the placement test for Corrective Reading to all the students I worked with. Dan placed in Level A, the lowest level of the program with lessons that went all the way back to the pre-primer reading level. There was one other student who placed in Level A so I grouped the two boys together and met with them daily to teach the lessons. (more…)

Dr. Keyon AndersonAs a young child, Keyon Anderson knew that his brain didn’t work like other people’s. His peers were learning to read and he wasn’t. His teachers told him to try harder. His mother was told he would grow out of his reading difficulties. Keyon was diagnosed with a processing disorder and held back in the second grade, but he continued to struggle. When he reached high school he was reading at a second grade level. He wanted to be successful but didn’t have the skills. It wasn’t until 9th grade that he finally received effective intervention for dyslexia. A dedicated teacher worked with Keyon to teach him the fundamentals of reading and ways to learn that worked for him. By the end of his freshman year, Keyon was transformed from a failing student to one with a 4.0 GPA and a fierce desire to learn. (more…)

Linda Diamondby Linda Diamond, President, CORE and author of Teaching Reading Sourcebook and Assessing Reading: Multiple Measures

“Once you learn to read you will be forever free.” Frederick Douglass

As I get ready to retire from CORE in late December, I have been looking back at all of those who guided us along the way. CORE started inside an education, public policy think tank because of the willingness and vision of my then boss, Paul Berman. He, in turn, was urged by Marion Joseph, a grandmother with political acumen and a former California state board of education member, who saw the damage being done to children in California who were not learning to read. Bill Honig, California’s former superintendent, Anne Cunningham, Sheila Mandel, and Ruth Nathan and I took a leap in 1995 and decided to create what was first called the Consortium on Reading Excellence (CORE). We knew that a strong body of research existed, then over 30 years’ worth, but it had not made its way into the field. California’s reading scores were awful and whole language was the main approach. (more…)

Pajaro Valley Unified School District (CA) students whose teachers participated in training and instructional coaching provided by CORE achieved greater growth in their reading skills.

Many factors contribute to student achievement but research conducted by SEG Measurement, an education research, evaluation, and assessment firm, has found that professional development provided by Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education (CORE) moves the needle on student achievement. A study of third grade reading performance in Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) conducted in January 2020 and recently peer-reviewed for presentation at AACE’s Innovate Learning 2020 Summit found that students in classrooms with teachers who participated in CORE professional development showed statistically significant growth in their reading skills in comparison to students in classrooms whose teachers did not receive training and coaching from CORE. 

Since the 2016–17 school year, CORE has provided professional development and technical assistance to elementary teachers and administrators in PVUSD to help implement, in addition to their broader English Language Arts instruction, the Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Sight words (SIPPS) reading foundational skills program. “We weren’t using SIPPS to fidelity,” Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent at PVUSD, says. “Specifically, teachers weren’t given the instruction or training to implement it well.” CORE began working closely with classroom teachers and instructional coaches, providing training and instructional coaching within the context of the SIPPS curriculum and their own classrooms.  (more…)

Jasmine LaneJasmine Lane is a first generation college graduate and an early-career High School English teacher in Minnesota. In her short time in the classroom, and through her own personal history, Ms. Lane knows all too well the negative and life-long impact that poor literacy skills have on students.  In her blog, “Literacy: The Forgotten Social Justice Issue,” Ms. Lane shares that her grandfather, Willie Lane, did not learn to read until he was in his 30s because he would have been “attacked, threatened, or possibly murdered for daring to be a Black Man reading in the Jim Crow south.”

Linda Diamond, president of CORE and author of the Teaching Reading Sourcebook, sat down with Ms. Lane, just a few short weeks after her beloved grandfather passed away, to talk further about how today’s failure to apply the science of reading to instruction continues to put young people, particularly those who have been marginalized and traditionally underserved, at a disadvantage and ill equipped to reach their full potential. (more…)

A must-read blog by Barbara Crook, an ELA editor at Victory Productions, that clearly articulates the flaws in balanced literacy.

An uneasy peace has settled over the land regarding phonics instruction and its critical contribution to reading competency. Since the heyday of whole language, phonics has returned to classrooms as part of a “balanced literacy” approach to reading.

Shouldn’t this put an end to the reading wars? Not so far, although the current state of the debate is a welcome de-escalation of the intense hostilities of the past. Critics of balanced literacy say it still does not emphasize enough the teaching of letter-sound correspondences in spoken language or sound-spelling relationships in written language, and that it relies too heavily on strategies long associated with whole language.

Keep reading on the Victory Productions website.

Dean BallardBy Dean Ballard, Director of Mathematics, CORE

Remote instruction has moved to the top of almost everyone’s list of concerns. We are asking ourselves how to do it, will students be there, what will actually be learned, and what will this mean when we return to face-to-face instruction? I cannot tackle all of this in one blog; however, I will share a few of the techniques we have been using in the last few months to create high levels of engagement online.


Linda Diamond

by Linda Diamond, President, CORE and author of Teaching Reading Sourcebook and Assessing Reading: Multiple Measures

I just finished listening to Emily Hanford’s last podcast on APM, What the Words Say.

My husband wanted to know why I was crying.  I answered, “because I am so angry and so frustrated.” We have known for years how to teach reading, yet as a nation we still aren’t doing what we should. Reading instruction should not be a matter of personal philosophy or preference anymore than a medical intervention should be based on philosophy. Hanford’s most recent podcast hits so close to home. At CORE we had two consultants working with educators in juvenile court schools. They know that failure to learn to read is a direct route to prison. (more…)