Much to the excitement of everyone here on the LD Expert team, the Science of Reading has been a hot topic lately and is gaining significant traction in the educational field. (Finally!)
If you have not yet had a chance to listen to the "Sold a Story" podcast by Emily Hanford, we highly recommend checking that out here. This brilliant podcast investigates the influential authors who create reading curricula that does not follow the Science of Reading. According to APMReports.org, "it's an exposé of how educators came to believe in something that isn't true and are now reckoning with the consequences — children harmed, money wasted, an education system upended."
So if what we are using is failing our kids, what is the answer? That is where the Science of Reading comes in!
Many people talk about the Science of Reading, but is is not often explained very well. Simply put, it refers to the methods of teaching reading and spelling skills which are proven to be the most effective through peer reviewed, evidence-based research. Teaching that follows the Science of Reading is explicit, systematic, and multi-sensory.
"Explicit, systematic phonics instruction is essential for some, helpful for all, and harmful to none." - Snowling, Hulme, Snow & Juel -
There are two philosophies of teaching reading: Systematic and Implicit Instruction.
sound & spelling rules are taught as corresponding units in isolation
includes direct instruction, explanation, and practice of these units
these units are introduced in a logical and specific sequence that builds upon previous concepts
sound & spelling correspondences are inferred from reading
limited direct instruction, relies heavily on "teachable moments" as readers encounter new sounds in words
sound & spelling rules are introduced incidentally as students encounter them in text
concepts vary in difficulty depending on texts introduced to student, rather than systematically increasing difficulty of concepts or building upon previous concepts
Nationwide, we truly have an epidemic when it comes to grade school students being fluent readers. According to NationsReportCard.gov, the NAEP reading scores fell to an all-time low in 2022 that has not been seen since 1992. While some states did not see a significant change from the previous years, the country as a whole continues to either drop in performance or continually lack and forward progress.
So what can we do about it?
This is what is so frustrating to many educators... there is a TON of evidence supporting the Science of Reading as the effective solution, but educators are not learning about that in schools. Moreover, schools are purchasing materials from big publishing companies that have endless marketing budgets but sub-par curricula.
We need to shout it from the rooftops as educators, parents, and community members that our children deserve better, and our tax dollars should go towards purchasing better materials for our teachers to use when teaching reading and spelling.
I truly believe that it is going to take us a parents getting involved and raising our voices to advocate for our children. Since we know that using teaching practices that follow the Science of Reading is imperative for certain students while being beneficial for everyone, why are we not using these principals nationwide?
Things you could do to get involved are chatting with teachers and school leaders, attending school board meetings, writing letters to your local school boards and superintendents, and even sharing what you have learned with other parents in your community.
Together, we can become the voices our children need to ensure a more literate future for our country!