Reid Lyon, an early champion of evidence-based literacy, just released an excellent piece that we highlight below and recommend for those who are passionate about advancing reading for all children.
In his 10 Maxims: What We’ve Learned So Far About How Children Learn to Read, Dr. Lyon summarizes 50 years of research, addressing the multiple abilities, skills and knowledge that go into the complex process of learning to read. Unfortunately, these critical insights are often ignored by our education establishment. Over 60% of school districts still use discredited curriculums misaligned to this science. To understand the many reasons why outdated curriculum is still being used, listen to Journalist Emily Hanford’s brilliant and superbly researched Sold a Story which describes why the system often fails to do what we know works.
The good news is that over 30 states have adopted Science of Reading laws in the last few years, building momentum for this urgent shift. But we know legislation is not enough. It’s essential for educators and parents to understand what the shift to the reading science approach means in practice and for our teachers to be supported in learning these new ways of teaching. So many elementary school teachers have not been trained by their preparation programs to teach their students how to read effectively, based on the brain science we know. These teachers and principals need effective, actionable support to shift their practice. Without this, legislation is just a high-level policy that won’t cascade down to our classrooms and impact our students.
We have a national reading crisis - where almost 70% of our students don’t read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade. These students are four times more likely to drop out of high school and of that 70%, a devastating 75% will never catch up. This lose of talent has dire consequences for our economy and these children’s life outcomes. Scientists say only 5% of children, compared to the current 70%, lack the cognitive ability to read effectively if taught correctly. So, we should have 95% of our children reading at grade-level in the United States, yet only 30% do now.
Nothing is more urgent in education than overhauling our literacy teaching. Understanding how the brain learns to read is a critical first step we can all take!