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It is no accident that you can read and understand this sentence. A solid education has empowered you with these basic skills. Yet today it literally is millions of Among our nation’s children who fall behind in reading and, sadly, many who cannot read at all. Your child may be one of them.
The latest data provides information – and they are alarming. The National Assessment of Education Progress released its latest 4th and 8th grade reading scores for US students and found that nearly 70 percent of these children test “proficient” in reading and are in real trouble. It’s not just scary – it’s heartbreaking, especially because most parents think their kids are doing well.
How did it happen? In a recent podcast series, “Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read So Wrong,” journalist Emily Hanford shares the stories of parents who discovered their children couldn’t read and the many challenges they faced in seeking help.
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One parent, Corinne Adams, realized her son was not being taught to read in kindergarten when she helped teach him at her remote school during the pandemic. When she turned to Twitter to share her experience, Adams quickly found parents across the country had children who hadn’t been taught how to read.
This nationwide failure is real, and it has the potential to rob our children and grandchildren of the opportunity to reach their full potential. To cite one example, economist Eric Hanushek estimates that students affected by pandemic-related learning losses will earn 6-9% less over their lifetimes.
Effective policy is the way forward. This is why I founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education 15 years ago. Our organization recently hosted more than 1,200 attendees at the annual National Summit on Education in Salt Lake City. Attendees heard from Hanford and Hanushek and many other speakers in a policy-focused discussion.
Central to our work is that each of these solutions begins with what is best for students. This is why I strongly believe that every child should have access to every educational option, which was passed in neighboring Arizona with its Empowerment Scholarship Account program.
But it does not end here. In Utah, leaders have already taken steps to enact commonsense policies. Senate President Stuart Adams is a champion for accountability that grades schools using letter grades – so schools are held accountable. Utah Sen. Anne Milner champions some of the basics of early literacy policy, including literacy coaches, screeners to immediately identify children who are struggling, and early intervention, monitoring and supporting students until they are on grade with their peers.
Yet success in education is never final, reform never complete. Much more can be done. This begins with ensuring that all early literacy curricula are consistent with phonics and the science of reading and non-rejection principles. States would be wise to follow the lead of Arkansas and Louisiana, which have banned curricula involving “3-cuing.” As the podcast series I mentioned earlier exposed, this failed approach literally teaches young children to guess words instead of sounding out letters and actually doing the learning work. how to read.
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I don’t expect parents to know this – they shouldn’t. But there is an industry that profits from this curriculum, despite overwhelming evidence that it damages a child’s reading skills.
It’s time to put the students first and end what isn’t working for the kids.
But so much is at stake – we all must play a part to help every child rise. There are things that parents, guardians, grandparents, and any trusted adults in a child’s life can do to help students recover lost learning.
Invest just 20 minutes a day reading with a child. And research shows that an extra 30 minutes of extra math work a week helps students make academic gains.
As a national problem, it requires a national effort. A national commitment to excellence in education for every child is needed. I know that Americans have the power to help every child close these gaps and ensure that every child can access their God-given potential for a meaningful life.
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Our children are not being taught to read and we need a national commitment to save their future
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