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Giving Compass' Take:
· Sarah Gonser emphasizes the importance of early childhood literacy and why teacher instruction is key to helping struggling young readers.
· What programs can be provided for educators to better understand how to teach young readers? What methods can be used?
The end of third grade is a turning point for young readers; it’s where skilled readers take off, finally able to competently read a variety of texts, and struggling readers teeter off track, often unable to ever catch up. This crucial juncture, and its far-reaching implications for those who don’t meet the mark, is why some educators are focusing their literacy efforts on the school years that come before third grade — hoping through innovation to offset what could be a terrible and lasting deficit in children’s reading skills.
Last year, in tests of the nation’s public school fourth graders, just 23 percent of Hispanic children and 20 percent of African-American children scored ‘proficient’ in reading. Among low-income students in general, just 22 percent of fourth-graders were proficient readers. The repercussions of not learning to read are magnified for poor children: Research shows that low-income children who cannot read at grade level by third grade are six times more likely to become high school dropouts.
“In this country, we have the ability to get 90 to 95 percent of kids reading successfully — if only we’d implement scientifically based methods,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a think tank that advocates tougher teacher evaluation. “Yet we routinely only prepare between 60 and 70 percent of kids to be successful readers.” Teacher-prep programs, she added, bear a large part of the responsibility here: Many teachers-in-training receive just one course in how to teach reading — a teaching task which experts agree is extremely complex — before heading into the classroom. “It’s a source of deep frustration for a lot of people, including myself, that we fail to adequately prepare teachers to teach reading,” Walsh said. “It’s simply malpractice.”
Read the full article about helping struggling young readers by Sarah Gonser at The Hechinger Report.