Promoting Literacy for All Students
Issue 1: Teacher Preparation
Despite their dedication and commitment to their students, many educators were not taught about the cognitive processes involved in how children learn to read. (Please see: Scientifically-Based Reading). *This is changing in Rhode Island, but many teachers and administrators did not have training in the Science of Reading.
Teachers may be aware of the five components of reading outlined by the National Reading Panel, but many teachers were not taught about the interdependent nature of these components of reading or the significance of phonological awareness. Learning to speak is natural, learning to read is not.
Skills are often taught as a checklist to measure standards. The focus is on teaching literacy skills in a "balanced" way instead of teaching foundational skills in a structured, explicit, and diagnostic way as part of a comprehensive English Language Arts curriculum.
Teachers have also been taught to focus on comprehension skills rather than the components that influence comprehension (decoding, background knowledge, language structures, vocabulary knowledge, etc.).
Balanced literacy sounds like an effective approach, but has left too many students behind. (see NAEP Scores).
Poor preparation makes it difficult for educators to identify why a child is struggling with reading (see Assessing and Addressing Dyslexia). Reading comprehension is the end result of many interdependent sub-skills (The Simple View of Reading). Many districts buy programs without investing in the necessary training to understand why children struggle with reading.
Many teachers were not taught about dyslexia
An entrenched belief system exists that schools must wait to identify a child with a reading disability until 3rd or 4th grade, interventions are provided after the most ideal time for remediation to occur. This is called the dyslexia paradox.
It is important to build a culture of reading in schools, but it is equally important to teach all kids to read.