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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Los Angeles schools will follow reading science, says Carvalho

"If we are going to follow the science, then we should really embrace all science, including the science of reading," said Alberto M. Carvalho, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified, at the annual California Reading Summit. "That includes training kindergarten to third grade teachers in effective reading practices.”

"Carvalho emigrated to the United States from Portugal as a penniless 17-year-old with little knowledge of English," notes Karen D'Souza in EdSource. After boosting reading scores in Miami, he now runs the nation's second-largest school district.

Only 42.2 percent of California third-graders read at grade level, down from 48.5 percent before schools closed. Los Angeles students lost ground at every grade level, except for eighth grade, recent state scores show.

"Carvalho has overseen efforts to train teachers in structured literacy, an approach that builds on decades of exhaustive scientific research," reports D'Souza.

"Despite a national push toward research-based methods, many teachers have been left in the dark about how reading works by their teacher preparation programs," Emily Hanford said at the summit. “They are teaching themselves this stuff late at night and on weekends and paying to go to webinars and conferences and paying for training on their own,” she said.

But it would be even better education professors embraced reading research and prepared teachers to teach effectively.

The state's disadvantaged students are not developing strong reading skills: Only 30 percent of disadvantaged third-graders read at grade level, down from 37 percent in 2019.

State superintendent Tony Thurmond is likely to be re-elected tomorrow, despite lackluster leadership. He wants all students to read by third grade, but hasn't committed the state education department to the science of reading.

Update: Los Angeles Unified's eighth-graders jumped in reading on NAEP, while other students nationwide did worse, notes Linda Jacobson on The 74. On state tests, they improved very slightly. Many people doubt the validity of the NAEP scores, she writes.

Part of the gains are explained by testing a different sample. "In 2019, the last time the nation’s students took NAEP, L.A.’s high-performing, affiliated charter schools weren’t included. This year, they were."

In addition, district enrollment is down by 10 percent an immigration has declined in Los Angeles County, and there are thousands of missing students.

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