Dr. Nell Duke, literacy expert and professor at the University of Michigan, says that "because of the complexity of teaching children to read and write, some of us treat it like it is rocket science because it is like rocket science!"
A majority of children learn to read adequately regardless of the instructional methods teachers use in school, but a full 40% of children require explicit scientifically based reading instruction to become capable readers. Among poor and minority populations, only about 16% are proficient in reading by 4th grade, compared to 42% in the general population. How these students ultimately fare as readers is profoundly affected by the reading programs they are subjected to. (Moats, 2007).
Texas & Nationwide
Scientifically based reading research has identified five essential components of effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension strategies. Yet the National Council on Teacher Quality 2016 Teacher Prep Review states: “coursework in just 39% of programs equips elementary and special education teachers to use all five fundamental components of reading instruction, helping to explain why such a large proportion of American schoolchildren never learn to read beyond a basic level.”
According to The Nation's Report Card (NAEP 2015), only 28 percent of 4th graders in Texas public schools are proficient readers. The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that 80% of Latino 4th graders in the nation are reading below grade level. The challenge is compounded because 80% of children in Texas have fewer than 100 books in their homes (Unite for Literacy).
While the challenge is widespread and complex, most reading failure is unnecessary and avoidable through excellent, informed instruction (Brady and Moats, 1997). As the National Reading Panel concluded, the classroom reading program should include a strong code-emphasis instruction (Ehri, 2004; Foorman et al., 1998). The most effective code-emphasis instruction is explicit, systematic, and cumulative, building skills on one another. Its goal is to teach students the correspondences between phonemes (speech sounds) and graphemes (the letters and letter groups that spell phonemes). In addition, effective lessons carry those skills into text reading and devote substantial instructional time to building fluency both at the word and text reading levels. Research-based instruction also includes robust vocabulary and comprehension components (Moats 2006).
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