« Tenn. Standards Win High Marks for Handling of Civil Rights Movement | Main | STEM Education a Prime Focus of Defense Department Grants »

The Reading Wars Never Die

In the wake of a recent controversial report that ranked teacher-preparation programs, combatants of the Reading Wars that dominated the 1990s have taken up arms again.

The spark was a June report by the National Council on Teacher Quality that rated colleges of education. That report drew lots of flak for its methodology and conclusions. But it's also drawing another kind of response: attacks for overlooking best practice in preparing teachers to teach literacy.

Responses from the International Reading Association's literacy-research panel and from some members of the Reading Hall of Fame outline their criticisms of the NCTQ report.

The paper from the IRA's literacy-research panel contends that NCTQ "needs to learn more about the factors that shape effective teaching practices and, therefore, effective teacher education."

It blasts the group for downplaying or overlooking key things in its standards for judging good teacher-preparation programs, such as writing, speaking, and listening skills; cross-disciplinary literacy skills; and a commitment to diversity. The report also erred, the IRA panel says, by focusing exclusively on the five areas singled out by the National Reading Panel in 2000 (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary) in preparing elementary-level teachers, to the exclusion of all other skills.

In a statement published in The Washington Post's Answer Sheet column, some members of the Reading Hall of Fame—which includes some of the most revered names in reading instruction—take aim at the report, in part for its emphasis on alternative ways of preparing teachers and casting current preparation programs as anti-reform.

The Hall of Famers blast the NCTQ for representing direct-instruction phonics as the only "scientific" way to train teachers to teach reading, and for arguing that reading can be taught "out of context without regard for who the learners are and what they are asked to read."

In an attempt to defuse a vested-interest criticism of their argument, the Hall of Famers argue that they don't oppose the NCTQ report just because it found many of their own texts unacceptable for training teachers. The issue, the group says, "is that anyone or any group can impose their judgment and become arbiters of books or methods."

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login | Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments

  • Linda: My problem with homework is they give too much and read more
  • Seo Article Writer: Hello I just see your site when I am searching read more
  • Car Insurance Guy: Ah!!! at last I found what I was looking for. read more
  • cyptoreopully: Hey there everyone i was just introduceing myself here im read more
  • Connie Wms: Good grief. We have gone round and round forever with read more