Rigid Instruction Fuels Poor Reading Scores

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

The latest national reading-achievement results, showing no gain in 4th grade reading scores, will not surprise anyone who has followed the policy assault on reading education these last 15 years ("NAEP Results Show Math Gains, But 4th Grade Reading Still Flat," Nov. 9, 2011). Triumphant, thanks to political power, not empirical evidence, have been the proponents of so-called scientific reading instruction, i.e., skills-heavy, lock-step, "teacher proof," publisher-manufactured pedagogy that has dominated reading instruction. Through state and federal legislation in the 1990s, culminating with the Reading First portion of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, this instruction has damaged millions of children. Every other instructional alternative, particularly constructivist/whole language, was beaten back by legislative manipulation, all in the name of scientific evidence.

The purported gold standard for this evidence has been the 2000 report of the National Reading Panel. However, anyone looking carefully inside the report saw it was fool's gold. For example, my analysis of the report's research base detailed the report's misrepresentations of the studies it reviewed, essentially forging "facts" to fit the authors' predetermined conclusions. Moreover, where research supported employment of constructivist/whole-language instruction, the report omitted those findings.

Alongside political power and research misrepresentation has been a policy disregard of the effect of poverty on learning. All this continues as "scientific reading education" lives on in the rigid instructional imperatives of common-core standards. Pity the poor children!

Gerald Coles
Rochester, N.Y.

Vol. 31, Issue 13, Page 32

Published in Print: December 7, 2011, as Rigid Instruction Fuels Poor Reading Scores
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories