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Schools try to overcome pandemic reading woes

Learning To Read
Posted at 3:45 AM, May 02, 2023

Third graders across the country face a looming crisis.

The majority will move on to fourth grade next year and will be expected to read well. But many haven’t received adequate instruction because of pandemic-fueled school interruptions and reliance in some places on ineffective teaching methods — likely including schools in your area.

From their first days in school until the end of third grade, students receive support from their teachers to perfect their reading and comprehension.

Starting in fourth grade, students are expected to read class instructions, math problems, and books by themselves and to improve their reading on their own.

Research shows students who do not read proficiently by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school or not finish high school on time.

Experts believe one of the most effective ways to help students catch up is with so-called “high dosage tutoring,” essentially small-group or one-on-one tutoring with a skilled teacher multiple times a week.

Some districts have used COVID relief money to pay for this expensive help, while others have struggled to find the staff to offer intensive support.

Just as districts try to make up for pandemic interruptions to learning, many also are shifting the way they teach young children to read.

More educators are embracing phonics-based lessons in line with scientific research showing many students need to learn this systematic approach to decoding words.