By Joana Gias, NJSpotlight News

Gov. Phil Murphy’s commitment to phonics in schools, articulated during his State of the State address on Jan. 9, was welcomed by educators who have long been calling for New Jersey to go back to the basics in teaching literacy. A different approach to reading was introduced several years ago that moved away from phonics and instead had students use other cues like looking at pictures to decode words.

“The pendulum is swinging back to where literacy needs to be focusing, which is on those basics — vocabulary, phonological awareness, phonics,” Katherine Bassett, CEO of the New Jersey Tutoring Corps, said.

The JerseyCAN organization formed the Legacy of Literacy Coalition, made up of several groups committed to teaching the basics, or the science of reading. The coalition sent a letter to Murphy on Friday to commend his literacy agenda, which they say should include key items, like training for all teachers in the science of reading, appropriate screening to know exactly where students are, and better communication with parents.

“If you have the accurate data, you know the areas of weakness; you should be addressing those areas of weakness while at the same time you maintain the other skills that have already been mastered,” said Dionne Ledford, the executive director and superintendent at Roseville Community Charter School.


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