We have all been reading the news about disappointing literacy rates in California, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic and online learning. Last month, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced a plan to improve literacy rates aimed at having all third graders in the state at reading level by 2026.
While this issue has made the news, it isn’t new. In fact, low literacy rates have been persistent and prevalent for decades, especially for students from low-income communities and students of color. Policymakers often exclusively focus on reading when addressing literacy gaps. However, research shows that writing skills help students become better readers and ultimately understand all subjects better.
On a national policy level, the critical importance of writing was underscored with the adoption of Common Core standards in 2010, which emphasize how writing must be taught and addressed across every subject area. Despite the focus on writing in the state standards, results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2011 found that nationwide, only 27% of high school seniors and 10% of Black and Hispanic students are proficient in writing. In 2016, a national survey found that half of teachers felt that they did not have sufficient professional development to successfully implement the current writing standards. We know a focus on effective writing instruction is essential to any effort to improve literacy rates.
Read the full article about writing and literacy by Bita Nazarian, Jaime Balboa and Laura Brief at EdSource.
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