Special Report: Getting Reading Right

What Teachers and Ed. Professors Know About Early Literacy

Learning to read is arguably the most important academic experience students will have during their school years. But it’s not a given.

The “nation’s report card” shows that just 35 percent of 4th graders are proficient readers. That’s despite decades of cognitive research clarifying exactly which skills students need to be taught to read fluently.

So what’s happening in schools—and in teacher preparation—that’s making it so hard for some students to gain these foundational skills? New data offer some insights. The Education Week Research Center conducted two nationally representative surveys, one of K-2 and special education teachers and one of education professors. The findings, presented throughout this reporting series, tell an illuminating story about what teachers do and don’t know about reading and where they learned it, as well as offer a path forward for improving reading instruction in classrooms throughout the country.

This special report was produced with support from the Education Writers Association Reporting Fellowship program.

Special Report


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In this online summit, Education Week reporters and their expert guests discussed the science behind how kids learn to read and original survey data on what elementary teachers and education professors know and believe about early reading.
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New survey data from Education Week show that most K-2 teachers and education professors are using instructional methods that run counter to the cognitive science.
December 4, 2019 – Education Week

The debate on how to teach early reading has raged for a century. But for the last few decades, the cognitive science has been clear: Teaching young kids how to crack the code—teaching systematic phonics—is the most reliable way to make sure that they learn how to read words.
October 2, 2019 – Education Week

Flawed methods for teaching reading are often passed down through cherished mentors, popular literacy programs, and respected professional groups.
December 4, 2019 – Education Week

At an Ohio elementary school, teachers who once “did their own thing” are now using structured literacy programs—and despite some initial skepticism, they say they’re seeing gains.
December 4, 2019 – Education Week

An analysis of the five most-used programs for early reading shows that they often diverge from evidence-based practices.
December 4, 2019 – Education Week

Many teachers leave preservice training without clarity on what the cognitive science says about how students learn to read.
December 4, 2019 – Education Week

Learning how to decode words is essential to becoming a reader. But research shows that building a strong vocabulary and knowledge-base is crucial as well.
December 4, 2019 – Education Week

Phonics, to some, means tedious worksheets and drills. But many teachers have found ways to enliven their instruction with songs, dances, and games.
December 4, 2019 – Education Week

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