Tuesday, March 15, 2022

What's the big fuss on reading?

 This is not intended in any way to be exhaustive: this is a quick catch up.

If you're curious as to why Worcester's TLSS subcommittee was talking about their reading program for early elementary, Fountas and Pinnell, you maybe have avoided hearing about the latest round of the "reading wars." Without (as I said above) going into too much detail, the question over how young children are taught to read, and what works and what doesn't, is at question here.

From a Worcester perspective, the district has been using F&P in at least some schools for some time; you can, for example, find it cited in this 2015 document about district assessment. There's been a heavy investment in the program under the current administration; you might recall the deliberation and the School Committee's subsequent movement of funds away from such training (Irene Fountas is at Lesley University) during last year's budget. 

While the backup for the subcommittee only references the 2020 EdReports review of F&P, finding that it didn't align particularly well with the Common Core (or Massachusetts state, for that matter) standards, what's more core (I'd say) to the concern is what's discussed in the 2019 APM Reports piece on cued reading and related strategies: it's that it literally is not how our brains work. If you're going to read one thing, read that. Lucy Caukins (if you hear "Columbia Teachers' College" in this issue, it's probably Caukins) subsequently responded, while F&P doubled down. The backup for subcommittee quotes from F&P in conceding that some phonics might be necessary, but even that seems to make it clear that the question over cuing students as a strategy that (in layman's terms) teaches them to guess is one that they're not moving on. 

The motion coming out of TLSS this evening is for an updated report in June; there may well be further discussion Thursday night. 

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