Teachers faced some of the most daunting challenges of their careers in 2022. They had to help students catch up on “unfinished learning” from the pandemic, find ways to cope with shortages of critical staff, and address the rising mental health challenges of students.
But the challenge that was really top of mind for teachers was reading instruction, which dominated a list of 10 Education Week stories that resonated the most with teachers. (The ranking of the list is based on a combination of how many people read the story, how much time they spent reading it, and the engagement it generated on social media.)
Six of the 10 stories are about reading. Three have to do specifically with the “science of reading” movement and the debate surrounding it. The #1 story is all about why implementing “science of reading” is so challenging. (More than two dozen states are attempting it.)
Sarah Schwartz is Education Week’s resident expert on reading instruction and the author of that #1 story. When asked why it was so popular, she offered two reasons:
- The lack of practical guidance about how to translate “science of reading” into the classroom
- Teachers’ natural interest in education policies and systems
“There’s this perception that teachers are most interested in the classroom-level stuff and they’re not as interested in policy [or implementation guidance], when in reality they really are,” said Schwartz. “Because they know it’s something that affects them. It’s also something teachers want more of a voice in.”
Schwartz expects interest in the topic to continue rising. She also predicts there will be more attention to other parts of reading instruction that go beyond the foundational. “One thing we’re going to hear more about going into 2023 is: What should reading comprehension instruction look like?”
(Schwartz has a fuller retrospective on edweek.org about the reading hubbub of 2022.)
But for now, settle in and check out the full list of teachers’ favorite stories of the year.
1. Why Putting the ‘Science of Reading’ Into Practice Is So Challenging
There’s a national movement to radically transform how reading is taught. The goal is to bring instruction in line with the decades of research on how young children learn to read. The question is: will it work?
North Carolina is one of the states that’s making a “science of reading” shift—an effort that’s turning out to be messy and hard. Sarah Schwartz visited classrooms and talked to teachers in the state to see why.
2. As Revised Lucy Calkins Curriculum Launches, Educators Debate If Changes Are Sufficient
Lucy Calkins is one of the biggest names in literacy instruction. So it’s no wonder teachers wanted to learn more about the large-scale changes to her curriculum program, Units of Study for Teaching Reading. In this popular piece, reading researchers and educators offered mixed reviews on the revisions and their potential to shift classroom instruction.
3. The First 5 Years in the Classroom Are Tough. This Teacher Has Ideas to Lessen the Burden
Patrick Harris wanted to share his unique journey into the classroom and all the challenges, joys, and lessons learned along the way. So he wrote a book, The First Five: A Love Letter to Teachers. At the end of every chapter, he interviews other teachers about their reasons for staying and their vision for the future of education.
Harris shared his takeaways from the book and what he learned from the experience of writing it in a popular interview with Education Week’s Madeline Will.
4. Students’ Math and Reading Plummet, Erasing Years of Gains, National Assessment Finds
In September 2022, student scores on “the nation’s report card” were released. They painted the clearest picture yet of the impact of the pandemic on student learning and validated what teachers were seeing in their students’ academic performance. They showed historic declines in students’ math and reading performance. And students who were already the furthest behind before COVID lost the most ground.
5. Why Can’t We Talk to Each Other Anymore?
As part of a 2022 special report on big ideas in education, Education Week’s Kevin Bushweller tackled the binary, dichotomous, either-or thinking playing out in K-12 education. He explored why we do it and how we can move past it.
“It’s time to resist the worst impulses of our brains and dedicate ourselves to full-spectrum thinking,” wrote Bushweller, whose insightful essay was a hit with teachers. “If we want students to embrace a wide array of ideas and complex thinking, we owe it to them to lead the way.”
6. The Gap Between Teacher Pay and Other Professions Hits a New High. How Bad Is It?
It might not come as a shock that teachers are paid less than their college-educated peers in other professions. But a new report released this year showed the gap is getting worse.
The Economic Policy Institute has been tracking the “teacher pay penalty” for 18 years, and in 2021, it reached a new high: Teachers earn 23.5 percent less than comparable college graduates.
7. States Are Desperate for Special Ed. Teachers. But They Can’t Cut Corners to Get Them
In the face of teacher shortages, many states lowered licensing standards to get teachers in classrooms as quickly as possible. But due to federal law, they couldn’t do that with special education teachers.
Instead, states and districts were feeling the strain and getting creative to fill positions.
8. What Is LETRS? Why One Training Is Dominating ‘Science of Reading’ Efforts
As states and districts overhaul the way their schools teach reading, many are banking on one specific professional-learning program to propel this transformation: Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, commonly known as LETRS.
How did this one training become so ubiquitous? And most importantly: Does it work?
9. Classroom Reading Groups: 5 Lessons From Recent Studies
In 2022, after years of pandemic disruptions to students’ reading progress, schools were scrambling for ways to help them progress faster. Small-group instruction in reading is a commonly used approach to do just that. But as Education Week’s Sarah D. Sparks points out: they don’t always work.
Districts looking to use small reading groups should take a look at recent studies, she writes.
10. What Teachers Can Do to Help Struggling Readers Who Feel Ashamed
For the millions of students who struggle to read at grade level, every school day can bring feelings of anxiety, frustration, and embarrassment. That’s why it’s critical to support students’ social-emotional needs alongside their reading instruction, experts say, especially in later years.
How can teachers help mitigate feelings of shame? This popular guide to supporting struggling readers provides some useful answers.
Explore our top stories and catch up on key developments in K-12 education.
- The Teaching Profession, in Charts
- Masking, Miscarriages, and Mental Health: Stories That Stuck With Us
- 5 Things We Learned About Student Mental Health
- 5 Popular Teacher Stories You May Have Missed
- A Difficult Year for School Safety: 6 Big Themes
- The 8 Most Consequential Developments in Education Law