Trust the Science of Reading to Inform Pandemic Recovery
In 2019, trends in student literacy were already a concern for educators, as the Nation’s Report Card found that approximately two-thirds of U.S. students could not read proficiently. Then the pandemic happened.
The economic and health hardships of the past year have caused many children to miss out on mastering fundamental reading skills, which has further widened existing gaps in older students’ literacy skills. In fact, a reading assessment by researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education showed that reading fluency among second- and third-grade students is roughly 30% behind what would be expected in a typical year.
While those are worrying indicators, there were some bright spots in literacy acquisition during the pandemic that can offer educators a path forward come fall.
A pandemic-proof approach
As education news site The 74 reported, “During the pandemic, curriculum developers in San Antonio ISD created a year’s worth of carefully paced material in English and Spanish based on the science of reading.”
The science of reading is evidence from decades of research on reading acquisition and instruction that was conducted using gold-standard methodologies. This body of research has shown that learning to read and write is not a natural act—rather, this undertaking requires explicit, systematic, and cumulative instruction. Structured Literacy is the application of the science of reading into reading instruction.
At a time when San Antonio ISD students could not learn to read through exposure to the word-rich classroom environment, the science of reading still worked. Teachers holding class remotely were able to “give kindergarteners, first-, and second-graders bite-sized pieces of reading they could use in the world around them, wherever they were, on whatever newspaper, cereal box, road sign, app, or book was available.”
As educators prepare for the 2021–22 academic year and formulate recovery efforts to get students on grade level, the efficacy of the evidence-based science of reading method offers a way forward.
Time is of the essence
Educators cannot afford to experiment with instructional strategies that are not proven effective. When evaluating instruction to help students catch up, educators should keep the following questions in mind:
- Does it include assessments that can lead educators to the most targeted and time-efficient pathways to close the gaps for students?
- Is the instructional content being taught based on data from gold-standard research?
- Does the content include the components most predictive of reading success, such as phonology, orthography, morphology, semantics, and syntax?
- Is the delivery of the instructional content explicit, systematic, cumulative, and multimodal or multisensory?
Structured Literacy instruction informed by science of reading pedagogy meets these criteria and can help teachers accelerate progress. Because reading instruction typically provides one year of growth for one year of instruction, students are running out of time to make the critical gains they need to recover from interrupted literacy learning. However, the right interventions will accelerate learning to provide more than one year of growth for one year of instruction. Although acceleration is a strategy usually targeted for students who are struggling, all students have skills gaps that require some acceleration in the current environment.
The requirements of the upcoming school year are clear: Educators need evidence-based Structured Literacy instruction tools that can accelerate learning and help students reach literacy success.
Designed for this moment
Lexia is committed to the idea that, when taught the right way, literacy is fully within reach of the vast majority of learners. Through innovative, effective, and proven literacy solutions, Lexia gives students and teachers confidence in their own abilities—as well as in Lexia’s.
Across all solutions and services, Lexia's approach is rigorous, personalized, and structured. Firmly grounded in the science of reading and Structured Literacy, the company helps deliver the systematic and explicit instruction learners need to truly comprehend, retain, and apply literacy foundations. Lexia offers assessment, curriculum, and professional learning solutions that can meet the needs of all literacy students and the teachers who support them.
By enabling educators to provide differentiated literacy instruction for students of all abilities, Lexia's research-proven programs help to substantially reduce students' risk of not meeting grade-level standards. Lexia® Core5® Reading is an adaptive blended learning program that accelerates the development of literacy skills for K–5 students of all abilities. Lexia® PowerUp Literacy® for grades 6–12 enables students to make multiple years of growth in a single academic year.
Because Emergent Bilingual students are at particular risk of falling behind in reading, they need culturally responsive pedagogies that support individualized learning paths. Lexia® English Language Development™ supports Emergent Bilingual students’ English language acquisition by integrating speaking, listening, and grammar in the subjects of math, science, social studies, general knowledge, and biographies.
Teachers are the most essential factor in student success, but only about half of teaching institutions effectively prepare teachers for literacy instruction. With this in mind, the LETRS® (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) literacy professional learning portfolio of solutions provides educators and administrators with deep knowledge to be literacy and language experts, based on the science of reading. Lexia® Academy is an eLearning platform that supports educators’ professional development, while Lexia Success Partnerships pair literacy experts with a school’s leadership team to set goals that align with instructional and staff needs.
In a year when speed is a priority, Lexia solutions are proven and ready to go. Designed for implementation at scale, they currently serve more than 5.2 million students across more than 20,000 schools.
Hope for 2021–22
The science of reading informs our understanding of how language and writing systems work, while Structured Literacy incorporates that knowledge into effective instruction. Ultimately, instruction that is informed by the science of reading is the only proven way to ensure students can become proficient readers across the curriculum.
More than any other time in recent memory, this year calls for instructional strategies that will give students the opportunity to regain progress and continue their education with confidence.
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