By Janice Kirkel,WBGO

Students in New Jersey are still suffering from the learning loss of the pandemic. Standardized tests from the spring show nearly half of students reading below grade level, with the scores below what they were in 2019.

Paula White of the education nonprofit JerseyCan said there’s a science to teaching reading.

“Phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension,” she said. “Some folks think that science of reading is just phonics, phonemic awareness, just sounding out words. That is a very important component but those are not the only components. We also have to focus on fluency as well as building vocabulary.”

White said students have to get to a point where they’re not using all their mental energy just to figure out words.

“If students cannot tackle and identify and read words then they will spend all of their cognitive bandwidth just trying to find out what those words actually are, which will leave them no additional bandwidth to actually derive meaning from the text,” she said.

In math there was a slight rise in the percentage of students performing at or above grade level, but still only about 38% of students did. White said reading ability affects performance there too.

“We also need to recognize that reading and math are closely correlated, especially when you get to the upper grades. The reality is that every subject is predicated upon reading well,” she said.

White said many schools use a somewhat scattershot approach to teaching reading — and it just doesn’t seem to be working.


Recent Posts

More posts from In the News

See All Posts