Getting Reading Right

Editor's Note

The early years of reading instruction are critical—there’s little disagreement about that.

But how exactly should reading be taught during that time? That’s been the subject of an abundance of research over the last century—and as much debate.

In this ongoing series, “Getting Reading Right,” Education Week will interrogate the cognitive science behind how kids acquire foundational reading skills, with a focus on the earliest elementary readers, in kindergarten through 2nd grade. Through reporting, explainers, opinion pieces, surveys, and multimedia features, we’ll explore what teachers know about reading and where they learned it, as well as the challenges they face in bringing the research to fruition in K-2 classrooms.

—Liana Loewus, Assistant Managing Editor

'Decodable' Books: Boring, Useful, or Both?

March 13, 2020

These sound-it-out books designed for young readers aren’t always popular with teachers. But experts say they’re an important tool in early reading instruction.

States to Schools: Teach Reading the Right Way

February 20, 2020

Worried that far too many students have weak reading skills, states are passing new laws that require aspiring teachers—and, increasingly, teachers who are already in the classroom—to master reading instruction that’s solidly grounded in research.

Reading Instruction: A Flurry of New State Laws

February 20, 2020

Many states have recently enacted laws or rules designed to ensure that teachers are well versed in evidence-based reading instruction. Here are some highlights.

Preservice Teachers Are Getting Mixed Messages on How to Teach Reading

January 22, 2020

When asked to list which reading researchers’ work they introduce to their preservice classes, professors of education point to a mix of experts, some of whose ideas conflict with the greater body of scientific research on reading, an Education Week survey found.

What the Science Says About How Kids Learn to Read

December 16, 2019

In this video, reporter Sarah Schwartz offers an overview of the important research findings on early reading.

Data: How Reading Is Really Being Taught

December 3, 2019

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.

Improving Reading Isn't Just a Teaching Shift. It's a Culture Shift

December 3, 2019

Flawed methods for teaching reading are often passed down through cherished mentors, popular literacy programs, and respected professional groups.

The Most Popular Reading Programs Aren't Backed by Science

December 3, 2019

An analysis of the five most-used programs for early reading shows that they often diverge from evidence-based practices.

Will the Science of Reading Catch on in Teacher Prep?

December 3, 2019

Many teachers leave preservice training without clarity on what the cognitive science says about how students learn to read.

More Than Phonics: How to Boost Comprehension for Early Readers

December 3, 2019

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.

Is Phonics Boring? These Teachers Say It Doesn't Have to Be

December 3, 2019

Phonics, to some, means tedious worksheets and drills. But many teachers have found ways to enliven their instruction with songs, dances, and games.

A Look Inside One Classroom's Reading Overhaul

December 3, 2019

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.

How Do Kids Learn to Read? What the Science Says

October 2, 2019

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. This overview distills the often-complicated research on reading and answers questions teachers may have about how to use it in the classroom.

The Path to Fluent Reading: A Developmental Timeline

October 2, 2019

Some of the most important pre-literacy skills begin in infancy. This timeline shows examples of the milestones children meet on their path to fluent reading.

Phonics vs. Balanced Literacy: A Classroom Comparison

October 2, 2019

Want to know if a K-2 classroom is using explicit, systematic phonics or balanced literacy? This visual illustrates some of the main instructional differences between the two approaches to early reading.