In the summer of 2020, the well-known researcher Louisa Moats published an article in AFT magazine entitled “Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science,” in which she laid out the daunting series of challenges involved in turning children into skilled readers. For the record, I have immense respect for Dr. Moats; and from what I know of her LETRS program, it seems extraordinarily well done and highly effective. She’s done more to advance SoR-based approaches and to train teachers than almost anyone else around. And yet, I have to disagree with her on this one—or at least with her (or perhaps an editor’s?) title. To be fair, the type of reading Moats…
- Balanced Literacy, Decoding, Dyslexia, Ed School, Fluency, Learning Disabilities, NAEP, Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Precision Teaching, Reading Instruction, Reading Wars, Science of Reading, Teacher Training, Whole Language
The Special Education Bubble
The reading world was recently rocked by an article from esteemed reporter, Emily Hanford. The longtime maven of whole language, Lucy Calkins, admitted she needed to change her Units of Study after decades of context clues, guessing at words, picture walks, and dismissing the science of reading. Of course, Calkins promptly responded with a statement that essentially tried to take credit for always being a phonics-minded practitioner (despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary). When you look at the latest NAEP data, the influence of decades of whole language-oriented instruction being the dominant pedagogy in the United States is readily apparent. According to this new data, roughly 63%…
- Balanced Literacy, Decoding, Ed School, Lucy Calkins, Phonics, Reading Instruction, Three Cueing System
Why Running Records and Leveled Readers Don’t Mix with Phonics
Last winter, Lucy Calkins (via the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, or TCRWP) issued a rebuttal to the Achieve, Inc.-sponsored report asserting that her Units of Study fails to provide the sort of instruction that would result in all children learning to read—particularly those who do not already arrive in school with strong language skills. Entitled “A Defense of Balanced Literacy” it is, in keeping with Calkins’s previous major statement regarding phonics, a veritable masterpiece of half-truths, evasions, contradictions, misunderstandings, and distortions. I don’t want to get pulled down into the weeds trying to offer a point-by-point analysis, but there is one major idea that I think is worth…
The Detachment of Literacy from Reading
In a 2017 interview with Columbia linguistics professor John McWhorter, the cognitive scientist Mark Seidenberg (author of Language at the Speech of Sight) described the transition from discussions of “reading” to ones of “literacy” in education circles over the last few decades. I think that by now, the use of the latter term is now taken entirely for granted, but it’s not a minor point at all—it’s actually quite major, and it highlights the gap between public perception of the issues at play and the reality of them. I suspect that when most people hear the term “literacy,” they understand it as a synonym for “reading,” in the sense that a…
- Common Core, Dyslexia, Ed School, Fluency, Learning Disabilities, Lucy Calkins, Reading Instruction, Science of Reading, Uncategorized
Munchausen by Special Education
I think what we have is a system that doesn’t really, at the end of the day, want students to get better and improve.
What Do Teachers Need to Know about the Science of Reading?
The more time I spend trying to wrap my head around the world of early-reading instruction, the more I find myself becoming wary of the notion that teachers should devote a lot of their time to learning about the science of reading. I realize that might seem like a bizarre and contradictory statement given that so many of the problems in reading instruction stem from ed schools’ failure to provide research-backed training to pre-service teachers—not to mention the fact Richard and Ben and I are in the process of launching a training program based on, well, the science of reading—so let me explain. I had already started writing this piece when I…