Special Report
Reading & Literacy

Editors Note: Building Literacy Skills

By The Editors — May 11, 2015 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Early-grades reading instruction has long been a central point of emphasis—and concern—for educators and policymakers.

That’s in large part owing to a provocative body of research showing that students who don’t read with proficiency by the end of 3rd grade are far more likely to experience poor academic outcomes, including leaving school without a diploma. Early-grades reading skills, in other words, are often seen as a key indicator of educational achievement.

By that standard, many U.S. schools have struggled to give students adequate pathways. On the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, only 35 percent of 4th graders scored at or above “proficient” in reading. The rate was considerably lower for minority students—18 percent for blacks and 20 percent for Hispanics. Meanwhile, the average NAEP reading score for 4th graders has increased only minimally over the past decade.

This Education Week special report takes a wide-ranging look at new efforts to address the challenges of early-grades reading instruction, particularly in light of the waning influence of the federal Reading First program. While that initiative, launched in 2002, drew praise for providing some $1 billion annually to expand reading instruction and professional development and support for teachers, it was criticized by many teachers and reading experts for focusing too narrowly on basic skills. A number of the stories highlight the growing impact of the Common Core State Standards, whose early-grades reading expectations often diverge from previous instructional systems.

Scanning the changing landscape of literacy instruction, the report explores new thinking on time-honored practices such as read-alouds, teaching vocabulary, and developing reading fluency; details school-community efforts to boost early-reading skills; dives into recent research on the potentially negative effects of focusing too rigidly on 3rd graders’ reading proficiency; and looks at an Alabama professional-development program that has shown promise in boosting achievement across racial categories, in part through a combination of consistency and responsiveness to change.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 13, 2015 edition of Education Week as A Note From the Editors

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.
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
Teaching Webinar
Challenging the Stigma: Emotions and STEM
STEM isn't just equations and logic. Join this webinar and discover how emotions fuel innovation, creativity, & problem-solving in STEM!
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

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 How One District Moved to a 'Knowledge-Building' Curriculum: 3 Key Takeaways
Don't expect teachers to be experts in every subject, and make sure to address comprehension strategies, too, say district leaders.
4 min read
First grade students illustrate a story they wrote together in Megan Gose’s classroom at Moorsbridge Elementary School in Portage, Mich., on Nov. 29, 2023.
First grade students illustrate a story they wrote together in Megan Gose’s classroom at Moorsbridge Elementary School in Portage, Mich., on Nov. 29, 2023.
Emily Elconin for Education Week
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
Reading & Literacy Quiz
Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Foundational Reading Skills?
Answer 9 questions about foundational reading skills.
Content provided by WordFlight
Reading & Literacy Opinion How to Help Students With Their Writing. 4 Educators Share Their Secrets
In many classrooms, students are handcuffed by restrictive templates for assignments instead of getting to practice how to create.
13 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Reading & Literacy Spotlight Spotlight on Early Childhood Literacy
This Spotlight will help you analyze early literacy gains from tutoring, learn how science of reading can boost achievement, and more.