Should we be rethinking reading instruction? NYC’s new Schools Chancellor thinks so!

Many educators in the USA are rethinking reading instruction. In 2019 less than 30% of fourth graders were found to be proficient readers. What has gone wrong for so many children? The core of the problem is that teachers’ approach to reading was based on a misplaced belief system called ‘balanced literacy’. They held understandable views that all children are different, so they need to be taught to read in a number of different ways using picture cues, context, and a smattering of phonics. The problem is that none of this is supported by decades of research into how the brain learns to read. Teachers preparation programs did not include what scientists have known for a long time: all children learn to read in the same way, they need a systematic phonics program which helps children develop sound/letter bonds. The differences between children is in how much support they need: some will take off with a small amount of instruction and others will need more support.

Now, a growing movement called the ‘Science of Reading’ has connected teachers across the world and is campaigning to change reading instruction across the English speaking world. While in the UK, the government has taken this on, and systematic phonics is mandatory in every classroom, the tide is turning and has now it has reached the shores of the USA.

NYC’s new Schools Chancellor, David Banks, has admitted that reading instruction has been based on the wrong ideas and he means to change that. Find out more in this article by Juliana Worrell on ‘The 74’ newsite.

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