California teachers union kills science of reading support for teachers – Orange County Register

How can teachers teach kids to read if teachers don’t have the training they need to teach reading the right way?

What sounds like some sort of academic tongue twister is actually a huge challenge right now for many states, including California. 

With the nation’s literacy crisis front and center, lawmakers from coast to coast are passing policies to ensure kids are learning to read from educators who are using proven methods—based on the science of reading—that yield positive outcomes. 

Until recently, California seemed ready to join this national movement toward high-quality literacy instruction. 

With support from more than 50 organizations, including the California PTA and NAACP,Assembly Bill 2222 would have provided much-needed support and training for teachers. 

It should have had a clear path to victory.

Instead, it died without ever receiving a hearing. 

That’s because the California Teachers Association—among the most powerful special interest groups in the state—claimed it might give teachers less say over reading curricula. 

Here’s the problem: We know some methods of reading instruction should be tossed in the trash bin of history and never used again, because they don’t align with the science of reading. 

The science of reading is about understanding how students learn to read effectively and identifying the best methods for teaching children to decode words, build vocabulary and comprehend text. Research shows that a strong foundation in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, including knowledge building, is key to reading success.

Decades ago, most of us learned to read using that proven approach—remember the old “Hooked on phonics worked for me” catchphrase? But many others were taught using harmful techniques such as three-cueing, which encourages kids to use pictures to guess at words  instead of sounding them out. 

Now, absent clear direction from the state, California’s many school districts may continue using low-quality instructional materials and methods like three-cueing for decades to come. 

Yet there’s no time to wait in fixing the problem: California’s student outcomes in reading are trending in the wrong direction.

According to data from NAEP, commonly known as the Nation’s Report Card, less than one-third of California fourth graders score “at or above basic” achievement levels in reading.

That means more than two-thirds of the state’s fourth graders are reading at a level of basic or below. In 2022, California’s average fourth grade reading score hit its lowest point in seven years.

Solving this crisis starts with ensuring educators in the classroom are equipped with the right tools to teach kids how to read. Other states are leading the way as California falls behind. 

For example, North Carolina, Louisiana and Alabama require state-adopted science of reading training for all K–3 teachers and administrators. Mississippi and Florida require science of reading training for teachers in districts where readers are struggling and make the training available to all teachers. 

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