New York Daily News: The New Urgency of Reading Instruction

Three consecutive chopped school years had the desired effect on student learning. New research shows that a growing number of children are falling behind in reading, with black and Hispanic children as well as low-income and disabled children suffering the most. America’s public schools weren’t big jerks when it came to literacy before COVID. We are now in a full-fledged educational emergency.

Among dozens of studies saying essentially the same thing:

• A new report from Amplify, a private curriculum and assessment company, says the percentage of kindergarten students most at risk of not learning to read fell from 29% in the middle of the 2019-2020 school year to 37% two years later.

• Early reading skills hit 20-year lows last fall, according to a Virginia study.

• Last summer, consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimated that American students had lost the equivalent of nearly half a school year in reading. And in any case, the kids who started out disadvantaged experienced the steepest slide.

We don’t know exactly how bad things were going in New York, because very few students took state assessment tests during the pandemic. But if we wait for a definitive diagnosis before intervening aggressively, it will be too late.

Officials should analyze the data and identify schools, whether district-run or charter, that have been most successful in getting children of all backgrounds to read and read well at the earliest possible age. Share their techniques. Replicate them. As someone once said, leave no child behind.

About Geraldine Higgins

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