Reading & Literacy News in Brief

Teaching Shifts Come Slowly

By Stephen Sawchuk — August 21, 2018 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Eight years after states adopted the Common Core State Standards, teachers have shifted practices dramatically on teaching vocabulary and assigning nonfiction, but have struggled with other shifts in those standards—most notably the tenet of having students of all reading abilities grapple with grade-level texts.

Those insights come from a nationally representative survey of some 1,200 teachers published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

In a finding greeted warmly by literacy advocates, many teachers now teach new words in the context of reading and conversation.

“The news on vocabulary is heartening, moving away from list-based and program-based approaches,” said Carol Jago, a former president of the National Council of Teachers of English and now a consultant, who was not involved in the survey. “I think all of that was eating up too much classroom time.”

But the proportion of teachers who reported using “grade level” texts rather than texts based on students’ reading levels fell among secondary teachers compared with Fordham’s survey in 2012. The standards prioritized the approach to make sure that even weaker readers had the chance to practice with increasingly complex sentence structure and meaning.

Timothy Shanahan, an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, gave a blunt analysis of the results: “It means holding kids back and not learning texts that are hard enough.”

One explanation for the finding may be that teachers haven’t been given enough training on how to “scaffold” more complex readings for students who are furthest behind. On the reading front, more than 90 percent of respondents said they are asking students to cite evidence from texts when they teach “close reading,” which basically means assisting students as they grapple with a text’s craft, structure, and meaning.

Still, writing tends to be based on personal experience or creating a narrative, rather than nonfiction texts—a flash point in the common-core wars.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the August 22, 2018 edition of Education Week as Teaching Shifts Come Slowly

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
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
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
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 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
Reading & Literacy Opinion The Science of Reading Should Make Room for Skepticism (Just Not for Ignorance)
COVID-19 has provided us with a front-row seat to an underappreciated truth about science, writes Claude Goldenberg.
Claude Goldenberg
5 min read
Surreal Illustration of books flying through the air
Jorm Sangsorn/iStock