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Radical Eyes for Equity: Understanding the “Science of Reading”: A Reader

In one way, ground zero for the “science of reading” movement can be traced to Emily Hanford in 2018, but cognitive scientists (Daniel Willingham and Mark Seidenberg, for example) focusing on reading and advocacy for students with dyslexia (or struggling to read in ways that some label as dyslexia) have also played key roles in the movement.

The “science of reading movement” has not been simply a media event, however. That advocacy has resulted in state education/reading legislation that has included third-grade retention of students based on reading test scores, mandating systematic intensive phonics (phonics first) for all students, and new mandates for teachers of reading and teacher education programs.

What is absent in most of the media and political endorsement of the “science of reading” is a critical lens for the claims as well as historical context.

The “science of reading” narrative, at best, is incomplete, and at worst, is deeply misleading.

Below are the key elements and links to help anyone better understand the issues:

Historical Perspective

What Shall We Do About Reading Today?: Looking Back to See Now More Clearly

Back to the Future of Reading Instruction: 1990s Edition

The “Science of Reading,” an Overview

The Big Lie about the “Science of Reading” (Updated)

The Big Lie about the “Science of Reading”: NAEP 2019 Edition

Systematic Intensive Phonics (Phonics First, Phonics versus Whole Language/Balanced Literacy)

Reconsidering the Evidence That Systematic Phonics Is More Effective Than Alternative Methods of Reading Instruction, Jeffrey S. Bowers (2020)

To Read or Not to Read: Decoding Synthetic Phonics, Andrew Davis

Does Phonics Deserve the Credit for Improvement in PIRLS? Stephen Krashen

The Problem with Balanced Literacy

Progressivism and Whole Language: A Reader

National Reading Panel (NRP)

The Enduring Influence of the National Reading Panel (and the “D” Word)

Reading Programs (Lucy Calkins)

Reading Programs Put Reading Last

In Defense of Balanced Literacy: Understanding and Responding to Student Achievement Partners’ Critique of Units of Study

Teacher Education and National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)

Twitter thread on NCTQ

Measuring Up: The National Council on Teacher Quality’s Ratings of Teacher Preparation Programs and Measures of Teacher Performance

If Teacher Education Is Failing Reading, Where Is the Blame?

Mississippi 2019 NAEP Reading Scores

UPDATED: Mississippi Miracle or Mirage?: 2019 NAEP Reading Scores Prompt Questions, Not Answers

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P.L. Thomas

Paul Thomas, Professor of Education, taught high school English in rural South Carolina before moving to teacher education. Recent books include Parental Choice?:...