It’s no secret that there are advantages for struggling readers with higher socio-economical status compared to the disadvantages presented for those in lower-class families. A student whose family has a higher household income can pursue 1:1 tutoring options for additional, intensive help whereas families with lower socioeconomic status depend on schools and teachers to provide that added support.
The pandemic laid bare many K-12 educational inequities that we face across the nation, particularly access to virtual learning and the importance of having a parent or guardian at home to support the educational development of their child.
We know that literacy is key to all aspects of a child’s life yet for too long struggling readers have been cycled through a ‘wait to fail’ model across many school systems that lack the early intervention solutions needed to identify students that need help. A 2019 report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress found that only 34% of fourth-graders could read at or above a proficient level, and new research shows that all students are behind in reading after disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consider the long-term implications: according to Project Literacy, 43% of adults living in poverty have low literacy levels; even more startling are statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice linking incarceration and illiteracy, with an astonishing 70% of incarcerated adults unable to read above a fourth-grade level. Our children’s life outcomes literally depend on solving literacy instruction in our classrooms and allocating the right resources for early identification.
What actions can be taken by school leaders and educators to ensure all students leave their school reading proficiently?
There is a growing sense of urgency to help educators become more aware of the Science of Reading (SoR) and how to use it in the classroom to cultivate strong readers. The SoR is a comprehensive body of research that encompasses years of scientific knowledge, spans across many languages, and shares the contributions of experts from relevant disciplines such as education, special education, literacy, psychology, neurology, and more. Conclusive and empirically supported, the Science of Reading provides the information we need to identify an evidence-based best practice approach for teaching foundational literacy skills called Structured Literacy.
“Literacy, in the Information Age, is the essential gateway to society. Students must have consistent access to direct, explicit reading instruction that systematically develops foundational reading skills for the greatest number of learners. The Science of Reading must not be considered an ideological preference, pedagogical inclination, or inevitable swing of an instructional pendulum. Rather, the research consensus and supporting science must be applied as a matter of equity and civil rights.” – Kareem Weaver
Incorporating the Science of Reading in primary instruction is a key factor towards achieving equitable literacy instruction across all schools. In order to become proficient in reading, students need systematic instruction in phonics and other foundational reading skills like comprehension to become fluent decoders.
The Science of Reading is not a fad. SoR guides IMSE’s instruction in the classroom in order to give every student the best possible chance in life, which is dependent on knowing how to read.
For more information on the IMSE and the Science of Reading, check out our blog!
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