Reading & Literacy

How Educators Are Trying to Find the Staff and Money to Improve Reading Instruction

By Mark Lieberman — September 01, 2023 1 min read
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Many states are passing laws requiring schools to dramatically revamp their approach to teaching reading. But change doesn’t happen overnight—especially without adequate resources, training, and time.

That’s the message shared during a recent Education Week forum by Joe Gothard, superintendent of the St. Paul, Minn., public schools, and Melissa Weber-Mayrer, chief of literacy for the Ohio state education department.

Both Gothard and Weber-Mayrer work in states whose legislatures provided funding to help smooth the bumpy road to incorporating evidence-based reading practices into classroom instruction. Many states that passed similar laws have not passed along dedicated funding.

And even in Ohio and Minnesota, challenges and obstacles abound. One of the biggest is finding enough qualified people to do this difficult but urgent work.

Gothard’s district pulled six dozen teachers into new roles guiding students through the revamped literacy curriculum. But that meant more than 70 new positions opened up.

Professional development is another challenge that arises whether reading programs are fully staffed or not. Just asking a teacher to change instruction practices and curriculum they’ve used for years or even decades is hardly a winning strategy on its own. Weber-Mayrer’s agency has been hosting free professional development sessions while simultaneously encouraging districts to host training programs of their own.

How can districts grapple with staff shortages while dealing with funding constraints, political pressure, and a moral duty to help children learn to read?

Watch a segment of the recorded webinar above, or watch the full recording here.

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