To the Editor:
In 2000, the bipartisan National Reading Panel issued recommendations on the skills children need to become successful readers. More than a decade later, a majority of teachers-in-training are still not receiving the knowledge they need to impart these skills.
A recent review of schools of education by the National Council on Teacher Quality, or NCTQ, shows that only 29 percent of the nearly 600 education schools reviewed adequately address the five reading component skills identified in the reading panel’s report (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) in their teacher-training curricula (“Disputed Review Finds Disparities in Teacher Prep,” July 10, 2013).
The NCTQ review set a low bar for schools of education.
The International Dyslexia Association, or IDA, believes that teachers require a greater depth of knowledge and practice to become skilled teachers of reading. In 2010, the IDA published comprehensive knowledge and practice standards, and last year recognized nine programs that are aligned with them.
While critics may be tempted to write the IDA standards off for their focus on the needs of struggling readers, these standards essentially codify the recommendations of the National Reading Panel, which concluded that all students benefit from science-based reading instruction. More importantly, all teachers require knowledge of science-based reading instruction and how to apply it to the range of learners in their classrooms.
Why have schools of education been slow to embrace the need for better-trained teachers in reading? A significant hurdle lies in the lack of faculty expertise in the area of reading science.
In recent years, a movement toward improved teacher training in reading has been building, and more than half the states have enacted or introduced literacy laws. These can only take us so far. The schools of education must step up their efforts.
Director of Professional Development
International Dyslexia Association
A version of this article appeared in the August 07, 2013 edition of Education Week as Dyslexia Group: Education Schools Must Boost Teaching of Reading