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Elementary schools should implement ‘science of reading’ approach

US Department of Education | Wikimedia Commons

A new, science-based approach to reading is highlighting the flaws of outdated school systems in the United States and education experts must advocate its influence in elementary schools.

According to The New York Times, the COVID-19 pandemic set back children’s reading rate significantly. While the pandemic exacerbated the gap, students have been missing their reading benchmarks for years before.

Literacy experts are struggling to find ways to catch up, making it necessary for them to recognize that the old system of educating students is not working and that new methods should be practiced.

Indiana’s Reading Recovery, which initially gained acclaim for its one-on-one reading support for first graders, is based on the idea that children can learn to read over time through exposure to books and examples.

While this approach may sound appealing, it falls short of providing students with a strong foundation in reading and is being cut short or altered in many schools in the state.

One major criticism was that skills teachers taught were short-term and it reflected in students’ test scores. Although the Reading Recovery’s individualized approach is helpful in the modern curriculum, teachers lacked the proper foundation to help their students retain knowledge.

The science of reading proposes five pillars of instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. These five pillars provide a promising way to teach young students as it covers important components ignored by other methods.

The new approach fosters the idea of why, rather than going through the motions of the curriculum. By training teachers in the science of reading, the education system can help assist children of all reading levels.

Mississippi’s reading scores have soared in elementary school through this approach, in addition to screening reading deficiencies or learning disabilities such as dyslexia in students’ early years.

Teaching children how to read will never be easy. There is no “one-size-fits,” which is why the urgent need for change in literacy education cannot be overstated.

American education is increasingly shifting toward science-based approaches for a reason: they work. These methods provide students with the tools to become proficient readers, setting them up for success in all areas of their academic journey.

Education evolves to meet the needs of the times and it must ensure that the next generation of learners is equipped with the tools they need to thrive in a world that demands strong literacy skills.

By doing so, every child can receive high-quality, research-backed instruction in literacy. This transformation should provide teachers with the training and resources necessary to implement these approaches effectively.

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