November 2nd, 2018
If you have not yet read Emily Harmon’s article in this past weekend’s New York Times, you should stop reading this blog and go directly to the link here. And if you did read the piece in the Sunday Review, you surely are still shaking your head over it.
That’s because Ms Harmon’s article highlights a report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, which showed gross inconsistencies in educator training on the science of learning to read. More specifically, when teacher preparation programs were analyzed across the country, the study found that “fewer than 4 in 10 taught the components of effective reading instruction identified by research” (NYT 10/28/18). What? If teachers aren’t being trained in the scientifically proven ways to teach reading, then that means there are classrooms — lots of them — that are not set up to help children become successful readers. And teachers are surely not at fault.
While there are many factors that contribute to the consistently low reading scores in the U.S. (only 37% of children are proficient readers by grade 4), it seems absurd that teacher training wouldn’t align with what we know works for kids. But given that classroom learning reality, it is obvious that parents can’t assume the best instruction awaits.Instead, families need to do something to be sure that their children are getting what they need to become strong readers — from the earliest days of each child’s life.
As with most everything, knowing more information could make the difference. If families knew about the skills children need to build up from birth, they could support that skill-building at home and when formal schooling begins, ask the right questions about what is being taught at school. Without that kind of knowledge, how can parents be certain that the critical learning-to-read years are made up of the kinds of learning experiences that their child needs to become a successful reader?