Is Your Curriculum Aligned to the Science of Reading?
By Alana Mangham, M.A.Ed.
Do you remember when the educational initiative took the United States by storm? Common Core State Standards came about in 2010, and over the next several years, more and more states adopted the English and math standards. Teachers were knee-deep in unwrapping standards to better understand what each student needed to master. Schools were holding vertical alignment meetings across grade levels, and the most significant shift of all was educators did not have materials aligned to the CCSS. Almost instantly, teachers or curriculum companies either created resources that started slapping “CCSS approved” stickers on the cover. In an educator’s eyes, it was a relief to see we were not alone. We were thankful that we had something to get us started and aligned with Louisiana’s newly adopted standards.
After years of professional development training, sales pitch meetings, calls, and emails, I began to realize several products were not Common Core aligned. Several companies did not make significant or beneficial changes but just enough to get that “fancy” sticker slapped across the cover. I even remember attending a curriculum training where the company stated, “Look, we have been doing this all along. No need to worry or change anything you are already doing.” Yikes!
Fast forward to 2019. Literacy rates were stagnant when the Nation released The National Assessment on Education Progress, NAEP. Emily Handford reported on failing literacy rates, science-based reading instruction, and banning guessing reading strategies and became the forefront of headlines and social media. Karen Vaites wrote about the lack of evidence when using leveled readers, while Lucy Calkins, queen of balanced literacy, published an article titled, No One Gets to Own the Term “The Science of Reading”, sparking the reading wars again. It was about time.
Facebook groups, Twitter supporters, podcasts, virtual conferences, online webinars, and researchers from all walks of life joined forces supporting the science of reading. We have not stopped educating others and sharing valuable information on how the brain learns to read and the best delivery method for all students. Several conceptual models are the “go-to’s” for the science of reading. The Simple View of Reading created by Gough and Tumer, Scarborough’s Reading Rope created by Dr. Hollis Scarborough, Nancy Young’s Ladder of Reading and Ehri’s Phases of Word Development are just a few science of reading conceptual models.
Cognitive and neuroscientists have over forty-plus years of research that enabled various science of reading conceptual models. It takes a deep understanding that balanced literacy folks have misunderstood attempting to be apart of the in-crowd. Adding science of reading conceptual models as updates to a curriculum, promoting students to read leveled readers, teaching reading strategies that have students guessing at words and referring to picture clues contradict the research.
If we continue to use practices that do not support the research, we will continue to see stagnant literacy rates. It is time to call out the companies that add “aligned to the science of reading” stickers on their products and hold them accountable for an accurate understanding of how the brain learns to read.
Alana Mangham, M.A.Ed.
Literacy and Learning Specialist