Reading & Literacy Report Roundup

Class Readings Aim Too Low, Says Study

By Catherine Gewertz — October 29, 2013 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A new survey shows that most teachers are still gearing class reading assignments to students’ respective skill level, rather than—as the common-core standards envision—to their grade level.

The study, released last week by the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute, explores the practices of teachers as they begin teaching the common standards in public schools in 46 states and the District of Columbia. The researchers surveyed some 1,150 reading and English/language arts teachers in grades K-10 in February and March of 2012.

The findings highlight gaps between what the standards envision and how teachers are teaching. One such area was in teachers’ judgements on how difficult a text their class can manage. Elementary school teachers were far more likely than those in middle or high school to say that they assign reading materials suited to their students’ average reading ability, rather than on what is expected for their grade. Sixty-four percent of elementary teachers said they chose reading materials this way, compared with 38 percent of those in middle school and 24 percent in high school. More than 8 in 10 rated themselves as “very” or “somewhat” familiar with the standards.

That pattern was reflected in their choices of novels, specifically. Fifty-one percent of elementary teachers said that when they assign complete novels for the whole class, they base choices on the average class reading level, rather than grade level. (Another 22 percent said they based novel choices on grade level, and one-quarter based them on both of those factors and/or additional things.) The class’ ability also drove novel selections for 40 percent of middle school teachers and 28 percent of high school teachers.

“These results reveal that many teachers have not confronted the new text-complexity demands of the common core,” say the report’s three authors, led by University of Illinois-Chicago literacy expert Timothy Shanahan.

A version of this article appeared in the October 30, 2013 edition of Education Week as Class Readings Aim Too Low, Says Study

Events

Teaching Webinar Examining the Evidence: What We’re Learning From the Field About Implementing High-Dosage Tutoring Programs
Tutoring programs have become a leading strategy to address COVID-19 learning loss. What evidence-based principles can district and school leaders draw on to design, implement, measure, and improve high-quality tutoring programs? And what are districts
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Reading & Literacy New Curriculum Review Gives Failing Marks to Two Popular Reading Programs
Two of the nation's most-used literacy programs are facing new criticism.
14 min read
EdReports Fountas and Pinnell 1004026742
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Reading & Literacy Spotlight Spotlight on Oral Language in Reading Instruction
This Spotlight will help you determine where your reading instruction may have holes and more.
Reading & Literacy Data More States Are Making the 'Science of Reading' a Policy Priority
Four states have passed laws requiring evidence-based instruction, and at least 18 are directing COVID relief funds to early reading.
4 min read
Getty Images
Getty Images
Reading & Literacy Popular Literacy Materials Get 'Science of Reading' Overhaul. But Will Teaching Change?
Lucy Calkins and Jennifer Serravallo are among those releasing updates that move away from unproven techniques like three-cueing.
18 min read
A book becomes an open doorway
iStock/Getty