Addressing the Reading Rut
The Nation’s Report Card, an education progress report released every two years, consistently indicates that students in the US are not improving in reading test scores. In a recent Atlantic article, literacy educators and researchers discuss why American students are so stagnant in reading. These experts indicate that the traditional focus on basic reading comprehension skills and textbook-style passages is not pushing students far enough and, as a result, they are falling behind in their analysis of complex, authentic texts.
What is the key to moving reading instruction forward? The article suggests that instruction should focus on challenging, disciplinary texts that are at or above students’ grade level – the types of texts they are likely to encounter on the SAT. Indeed, Timothy Shanahan, one of the researchers quoted in the article, demonstrates that students benefit from reading texts that might be considered too challenging. Rather than resorting to simpler texts, teachers should support struggling readers by metacognitively modeling their reading practices and apprenticing students as they develop their own skills. In addition, reading skills should neither be taught in isolation nor at the expense of content coverage. Developing a wealth of disciplinary content knowledge is critical, as connecting with relevant prior knowledge helps readers make sense of complex texts.
Academic Approach has developed professional development and instructional tools that seek to support teachers in moving their own reading instruction forward. Our SAT Curriculum Toolkit includes teacher training and curricular materials that engage students in skills and practices aligned with the expert guidance and reflecting the types of reasoning that students will engage in on the SAT. Additionally, we’ve created professional development that supports teachers in implementing our “teaching beyond the test” approach by focusing on skills-based instruction. To find out more about these programs and how you can help teachers at your school advance their reading instruction, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.