Reading & Literacy Report Roundup

Class Readings Aim Too Low, Says Study

By Catherine Gewertz — October 29, 2013 1 min read

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

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

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 Spotlight Spotlight on the Science of Reading 2021
In this Spotlight, review where the learning gaps are for those learning to read, determine if teachers are properly prepared and more.
Reading & Literacy What the Research Says Reading on Screen vs. Print: New Analysis Thickens the Plot on Promoting Comprehension
Electronic books could boost young children's comprehension more than print, but few enhance, rather than distract, new study finds
4 min read
Image of someone holding a tablet and a book.
Carolina Jaramillo/iStock/Getty
Reading & Literacy Letter to the Editor The Politics of Reading Is Failing Students
The National Reading Panel's guidance—not instruction—is to blame for students' low reading assessment scores, says a reading tutor.
1 min read
Reading & Literacy Opinion The Pandemic Will Worsen Our Reading Problem. Another Outcome Is Possible
Early learning lays the foundation for literacy. Here’s how to get young students back on track after a disrupted school year.
Emily Freitag
4 min read
Illustration of teachers helping students climb books.
Jess Suttner for Education Week