It will take a Marshall Plan for reading to close New York City’s achievement gap, writes Sol Stern in City Journal. He wants to fund “scientifically based reading programs” for K-3 students in the city’s 300 lowest scoring elementary schools.
It would provide the schoolsâ€™ principals with the research supporting such programs, allowing them to choose the ones that would best suit their schools. To maximize the impact of the reading intervention, the children would be in classes no larger than 15 students . . . The teachers in the targeted schools would receive extra training in implementing scientifically based reading programs.
Research-backed (phonics) instruction has worked in schools serving low-income, minority students, Stern writes. Why not make it the norm?
As he mentions, many poor kids start school knowing fewer words (and knowing less about the world) than middle-class students. I think a Marshall Plan (Stern and I are dating ourselves) also would fund preschool classes focused on developing the language skills of disadvantaged students; the elementary curriculum would be knowledge-rich to support reading comprehension.