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NCLB Outrages

Teachers learn dated methods

Note: For an example of the extremist method mentioned by Krashen, see (Not the Official) DIBELS Clearinghouse Buy their book that warns the world about DIBELS.

Sent to USA Today, May 23, 2006 by Stephen Krashen

�Teachers learn dated methods� (May 22) and the study it reports on ignore research by demonstrating that the �scientific components� of reading are dead wrong.

The �phonics approach� many consider to be new and wonderful is actually an extremist method that insists that children study and learn all the major rules of phonics in a strict order. Cal State Fresno Prof. Elaine Garan has shown that intensive systematic phonics is superior to �lighter� phonics approaches only on tests in which children are asked to pronounce words presented in a list, and provides no significant
help on tests that require that students understand
what they read.

There is very good evidence supporting the �outdated, discredited� approach, whole language, which claim that we learn to read by understanding texts. According to my analysis of the research, those in classes in which more real reading is done do better than students in traditional skill-based classes on tests of reading comprehension, and have no problem with �skills� such as phonics and spelling.

By Greg Toppo

Most U.S. undergraduate teacher-education programs give prospective teachers a poor foundation in reading instruction, according to a new study by a Washington-based non-profit group that is working to reform the nation's teacher-education system.

The report, released on Monday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, looked at coursework and textbooks used at 72 leading colleges of education and found that most use what the council considers outdated, discredited approaches to teaching reading � especially for underprivileged children.

Kate Walsh, who heads the council, says teachers' colleges and education reformers have "an enormous ideological difference about what they think is important to teach new teachers."

Sharon Robinson, president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, says education schools are adopting new approaches, but such changes take time to affect what's taught to young teachers.

"The professional community does indeed see the need for change," she says. The new research "is in fact starting to influence the field." She says teachers' colleges haven't rejected the research, "but the community has to find a way to accept this work in a way they can use."

Monday's study finds that only 11 colleges currently teach teachers about all five so-called scientific components of reading, which dictate that students should learn reading through phonics, vocabulary and similar means.

Other approaches often require students to learn by memorizing key words and inferring the meaning of others through the context of a sentence.

Many educators have embraced the phonics approach, but many others � especially older teachers � say it offers children an incomplete picture of reading and leads to heavily scripted lessons. But Walsh says that if education schools embraced scientifically designed programs and rigorous teacher training, "there would be far less need for a scripted curriculum."

— Greg Toppo and Stephen Krashen
USA Today


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