Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

Colorado Reading Directorate

Ohanian Comment: The letter below is written on Colorado Department of Education letterhead. Does "Colorado Reading Directorate" sound like something out of Soviet bureaucracy's insistance on control? With all the loyal apparatchiki marching along in step.

Guess whose name tops the list the Directorate wants to acknowledge and thank for their support in the development of the Colorado Teacher Preparation Approval Rubric and Review Checklist for Literacy Courses, which accompanies the letter? None other than Douglas Carnine, Ph.D. Professor of Education University of Oregon/ CO-RTAC* (Colorado Reading Technical Advisory Committee).

The line between NCLB and content control of college education courses is direct, as is the line between speical education and required lockstep reading methodology. Named first on the Directorate list is Debora L. Scheffel, Ph.D., Chair. She is identified as Director of Colorado Reading First and Competitive Grants and Awards. She is a Professor in Special Education at University of Northern California.

Next is Jeanette P. Cornier, Principal Consultant, Office of Learning and Results / Colorado Basic Literacy Act. You can read her Power Point Presentation, The Reading Crisis:
Why Thousands of Colorado’s Kids Aren’t Learning to Read.
Louisa Moats reports in her newsletter that Jeanette Cornier has established a network of LETRS trainers to deliver training in their districts throughout Colorado.

NOTE: LETRS is a commercial program offered by Sopris West Educational Services, a Cambium Learning™ company. They list 60 Moats products. Oh yes, Louisa C. Moats, Ed.D., is listed in the Rubric acknowledegments.

Dianne L. Lefly's background is in Developmental Psychology, Educational Psychology, and Quantitative Research Methods. Her research expertise outside of education is in learning disorders and reading acquisition.

Jo M. O’Brien, M.A. Assistant Commissioner, Office of Learning and Results / Reading Standards. She served as the Director of the Kentucky Department of Education's School Improvement Office, playing a central role in implementing the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

Edward A. Steinberg, Ph.D. Assistant Commissioner, Center for Exceptional Student Services and At Risk Education. Formerly leader of Special Education Services in the Cherry Creek School District.

When the U. S. Department of Education rules that reading method and behavioristic methods advocated by some special ed educators are synonymous, then other reading theorists and/or practitioners need not apply. This is not a fight for reading turf. This is a fight about what's good for kids. It's a fight about inflicting scripted, lockstep, behavioristic learning theory on all children.

Colorado Department of Education
William J. Moloney
Commissioner of Education

August 15, 2006

Dear Dean of Education (Personalize):

As you will recall, a few months ago I sent you a letter to better acquaint you with the pending procedural changes regarding the approval of Teacher Education Programs by the State Board of Education (SBE) and the compelling reasons for increasing the rigor of literacy course criteria.

The Colorado Reading Directorate (CRD) was tasked with revising this process and I am pleased to announce that the criteria have been developed and are now available. These criteria, grounded in the Performance-Based Standards for Colorado Teachers, have been vetted by our national reading technical advisory committee, university faculty, and reading specialists from states currently pioneering this type of process.

Enclosed you will find the Colorado Teacher Preparation Program Approval Rubric and Review Checklist for Literacy Courses. These two documents will be used by reviewers to ensure programs are aligned with the current findings of scientific research in the area of literacy.

Questions and comments about this process are best pursued by direct communication with Dr. Debora Scheffel (Chair, Colorado Reading Directorate) at 303-866-6635 or scheffel_d@cde.state.co.us.

Again, I realize these changes will involve significant time and effort for you as well as for us; however, given today’s realities it is imperative that we take bold steps to improve reading achievement. Colorado’s students deserve nothing less.

Sincerely yours,

William J. Moloney
Commissioner of Education

Encl: CRD Rubric & Checklist

Colorado Teacher Preparation Program Approval Rubric
and Review Checklist for Literacy Courses
July 2006

Recent advances in scientific research in reading have necessitated a sense of urgency to move the knowledge acquired from the convergence of research findings into daily practice in the classrooms of Colorado.
Reading achievement scores among Colorado’s children over the last several years show limited growth. As a result, the Colorado State Board of Education has established a focused priority on increasing literacy achievement in Colorado.

To this end, the Board amended the Rules for Administration of the Colorado Basic Literacy Act and the Educator Licensing Act to reflect the findings of scientific research in reading (e.g., National Reading Panel, 2000.)
In 2006, the Colorado Reading Directorate was charged with the responsibility for reviewing and evaluating applications for teacher preparation program approval in all areas touching on literacy.

This packet includes the Colorado Teacher Preparation Program Approval Rubric and Review Checklist for Literacy Courses*. These materials were designed to be used in the review of literacy courses conducted by the Colorado Reading Directorate in order to ensure that teacher preparation programs address the most current scientific research on literacy standards, assessment and instruction.

The Colorado Department of Education looks forward to working in partnership with the institutions of higher education and designated agencies toward enhancing the quality of teacher preparation programs in Colorado and ultimately increasing student reading achievement.
*CDE recognizes that Teacher in Residence and Alternative Licensure candidates may acquire literacy proficiencies through a variety of means including, but not limited to, course work.

Colorado Department of Education, 201 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO 80203


Colorado Reading Directorate

Debora L. Scheffel, Ph.D. Chair, Director of Colorado Reading First and Competitive Grants and Awards

Dianne L. Lefly, Ph.D. Supervisor of Measurement, Unit of Student Assessment / Reading Researcher

Jeanette P. Cornier, Ph.D. Principal Consultant, Office of Learning and Results / Colorado Basic Literacy Act

Jo M. O’Brien, M.A. Assistant Commissioner, Office of Learning and Results / Reading Standards

Edward A. Steinberg, Ph.D. Assistant Commissioner, Center for Exceptional Student Services and At Risk Education


The Colorado Reading Directorate would like to acknowledge and thank the following people for their support in the development of the
Colorado Teacher Preparation Approval Rubric and Review Checklist for Literacy Courses:

Douglas Carnine, Ph.D. Professor of Education University of Oregon / CO-RTAC*

Elaine Cheesman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Special Education University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Judith S. Dodson, M.A. Literacy Consultant National Teacher Trainer

Marion Joseph, Education Policy Consultant Former CA State Board of Education Member / CO-RTAC*

Lynn Kuhn, M.A., CCC-SLP Literacy Consultant Former CO Reading 1st Professional Development Coordinator

Louisa C. Moats, Ed.D. Literacy Researcher and Policy Consultant Author and Teacher Development Specialist / CO-RTAC*

Richard K. Olson, Ph.D Director, Colorado Learning Disabilities Research Ctr University of Colorado-Boulder / CO-RTAC*

Bruce Pennington, Ph.D. John Evans Professor, Dept of Psychology University of Denver / CO-RTAC*

Barbara Rhine, Ph.D. Former Director of Bilingual & Special Education University of Northern Colorado

Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D. Professor of Pediatrics Yale University School of Medicine / CO-RTAC*

Susan M. Smartt, Ph.D. Senior Research Associate Vanderbilt University

Grace L. Sussman, Ed.D. Assistant Professor of Reading University of Northern Colorado

Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D. Education Consultant Former Sr. Research Associate Commissioner, Massachusetts DOE

Louise Spear-Swerling, Ph.D. Professor of Special Education and Reading Southern Connecticut State University

Cheryl Wittmann, Ph.D. Teacher Quality Specialist Maryland Department of Education
Colorado Department of Education, 201 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO 80203

*Colorado Reading Technical Advisory Committee

I can't find the rubric online and I can't post charts here. If you need to see it, I can send you a pdf file. As a tradeoff for my time, I hope you will offer to buy a CD: No Child Left Behind? Bring Back the Joy. All proceeds from the $15 CD go to the World of Opportunity in Birmingham, AL. Singing songs of resistance is a good way to begin the new school year. Well, hey, if you're really grateful, Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools is available for purchase. Sale of my books maintains this website.

How This Assault on Educational Professionalism ws Introduced to the Public

SBE Work Session (Wednesday, May 10, 2006):
Evie Hudak's notes (Hudak is the Colorado State Board of Education’s liaison to the Colorado Special Education Advisory Committee.)

Commissioner Moloney introduced the newly formed Reading Directorate, a group of CDE staff who have some background in literacy, psychology, and reading development. This group was formed to help CDE in areas of policy and practice related to closing the achievement gap in Reading, and they will be reviewing all the proposed teacher preparation programs and Teacher in Residence programs to determine their capability of ensuring that new teachers are able to teach the 5 components of literacy, based on the Colorado Basic Literacy Act.

From the Rocky Mountain News. May 10, 2006

Teacher schools faulted
Commissioner says new grads lack skills in teaching reading

William Moloney has appointed a 'directorate' to review teacher training.

By Berny Morson

May 10, 2006

The Colorado Department of Education is stepping up scrutiny of teacher preparation programs amid concern about poor reading instruction in elementary schools.

At issue is whether graduates of the state's 19 public and private teacher education programs are ready to step into a classroom and teach reading with methods that have been shown to work in extensive research.

"They're wonderful people, they love kids, they're dedicated," Education Commissioner William Moloney said of the new teachers. "But they have not the skills needed to help those children."

"We know how reading can be taught. We can take you to the classrooms in schools in the districts where they're doing it right," Moloney said. "There is a known way how to do this."

Moloney and other education department officials cite a bundle of five teaching strategies, called "building blocks for teaching children to read." It was designed by two research groups under a U.S. Department of Education grant and is available at the federal agency's Web site.

Moloney has appointed a five-member "reading directorate" within the education department to review college-level teacher training programs as they come up for certification. Unapproved courses do not count toward a teaching license, which is necessary to work in public schools.

The reading directorate will make a presentation today to the state Board of Education.

Higher education officials say they want to work with Moloney, but defend their present programs.

Eugene Sheehan, dean of the University of Northern Colorado's College of Education, said debate about how to teach reading has gone on for years. UNC employs a variety of approaches.

"If we send our teaching candidates out with one way to teach reading . . . then we have done those new teachers a disservice and we will have done their students a disservice," Sheehan said.

Not all public school officials agree with Moloney that education school graduates are unprepared.

Sue Gill, human resources director for Jefferson County Public Schools, the state's largest district, said entry-level teachers are hired with the expectation that they will need training in the district's reading strategies.

"We don't expect them to be experienced," Gill said. "So do they come in with the fundamentals of how to teach a student to read? Those at the elementary levels definitely do."

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education plays the main role in certifying teacher education programs. But the commission cannot certify a teaching program without approval of the state Board of Education, which acts on the recommendations of the commissioner.

Programs from three schools - UNC, Adams State College in Alamosa and the private, for-profit University of Phoenix - were yanked from the Board of Education agenda in April. They will be reviewed by Moloney's reading directorate before coming back to the board.

The reviews will cover the curriculums of education school courses, but could also include classroom visits, to ensure that the curriculum is being followed, said Deborah Scheffel, who heads the directorate.

Education school programs not based on research are likely to run into trouble.

In correspondence concerning the University of Phoenix program, Scheffel was critical of a course curriculum that gave equal weight to methods other than ones based on awareness of sounds and letters.

Referring to the research-based approaches, Scheffel, wrote, "The concern is that if University of Phoenix faculty lack or do not value this knowledge base, teacher candidate knowledge and skills will be compromised, which ultimately affects Colorado K-12 student achievement."

Phoenix vice president Darren Adamson said the school will do whatever it takes to meet standards.

"We'll do our very best to meet the requirements. We will meet the requirements," Adamson said.

Moloney described the correspondence with Phoenix as a "template" for the concerns other education schools will encounter.

A similar letter went to UNC dean Sheehan on Thursday.

Among factors driving the push on reading is a suspicion that many students are being classified as educationally disabled when their only problem is an inability to read.

Those students "should be called instructional casualties," Cherry Creek School District special education director Ed Steinberg told the state board in April.

"The scandalous nature of this is that we watch these kids fail," Steinberg said.

Keys to reading

The Colorado Education Department is stressing five reading "building blocks" designed by the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement and the National Institute for Literacy.

• Awareness that words are made up of sounds.

• Awareness that letters symbolize sounds.

• Fluency: the ability to move quickly through sentences, recognizing whole words and grouping them into phrases.

• Vocabulary building.

• Strategies students can use when they don't understand a passage.

• For more information go to www.nifl.gov/partnershipfor reading/publications/reading _first1.html

From the Denver Post, July 7, 2006.

State's teacher programs told to cover 5 reading elements

By Karen Rouse

During reading time at Westview Elementary School in Northglenn, student teacher Jonathan Brown gathers a group of four or five students and listens closely as they read aloud.

He listens for the words that make them stumble, tells them to sound out letters and helps them find clues by looking at word roots.

"Maybe that root of the word is something they've learned," said Brown, who is earning an elementary teaching license at the University of Colorado at Denver.

Brown does this to gauge whether his students have "phonemic awareness," one of five reading components that state and national experts say teachers must know if their pupils are to learn to read proficiently.

State education officials say the concept is so crucial that they will no longer approve teacher-preparation programs that fail to teach the five components: phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, fluency and vocabulary.

If teacher-preparation programs don't include those components, the State Board of Education has "the right to shut down these programs," said William Moloney, commissioner of education for the state's 1,700 public schools.

The Colorado Department of Education in April created a "reading directorate" to scrutinize all teacher-preparation programs that deal with literacy, said Debora Scheffel, chairwoman of the initiative.

It will address what the department considers a reading conundrum in Colorado. A little more than 60 percent of public-school students can read at grade level on state tests, and a national assessment found that just 32 percent to 37 percent of the state's students are proficient, Scheffel said.

For years, the Department of Education has reviewed teacher-preparation programs and typically grants approvals that allow programs to operate for five years, Moloney said.

With the directorate in place, three institutions in the state - Adams State College, the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Phoenix - have all been granted only year- long provisional approvals while they undergo a state review.

But leaders of the state's colleges and universities that offer teacher-preparation
programs have taken issue with the new directorate.

Eugene Sheehan, dean of the School of Educational Research, Leadership and Technology at the University of Northern Colorado, said the reading directorate was imposed on higher- education institutions without specific details.

"They didn't have their criteria in place," he said.

Scheffel acknowledged that the department has not yet completed the criteria to guide higher-education institutions.

The five components for reading were originally outlined in 2000 by a group of literacy experts, parents, teachers and others, said Peggy McCardle, a reading expert with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the panel's report.

"We kind of always knew these were the parts of reading," she said. "What people weren't really paying attention to is how you teach them."

Cheryl DeLong, director of literacy in the Douglas County School District, agrees that in many districts, teachers don't understand the significance of the reading components. Teachers, she said, "should come with knowing those components and understanding what they are and how to teach them."

Lynn Rhodes, dean of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, said she hasn't seen evidence that a child's inability to read is directly linked to teachers coming out of higher-education programs.

"They have absolutely no data to suggest that the new teachers are the contributors to this," she said. "Learning is lifelong. ... We can't train them to do specific reading curriculum. We teach them how to think about and teach reading in general."

— multiple authors, including William J. Moloney
multiple sources




This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.