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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Training teachers in 'science of reading' improves reading

Low-performing California schools improved third-graders' reading by training teachers in how children learn to read, according to a new Stanford study, reports Dana Goldstein in the New York Times.


For about $1,000 per student, schools retrained teachers and administrators in "the principles of the science of reading, a movement focused on foundational skills such as phonics, vocabulary and comprehension," she writes.

By third grade, students gained the equivalent of an additional quarter of a year in English and 12 percent of a year in math. The intervention involved students from low-income families who were in kindergarten or first grade when schools closed in 2020, Goldstein notes.

It cost as no more than many intensive tutoring programs and much less than lowering class sizes, researchers said. "After training school staff on reading research and how to use data to drive improvement, principals and their teams were able to chart their own path forward," writes Goldstein.


At Bel Air Elementary in Contra Costa County, grant money paid for teacher training, reading specialists to work with students in small groups and a new phonics-based curriculum, writes Carolyn Jones on CalMatters. The school "closely tracked student progress."


It worked, said Robert Humphrey, who was the principal. “Students were running up to me saying, ‘Mr. Humphrey, want to hear me read?’ The glimmer in their eyes, the smiles on their faces . . . It’s been an absolutely amazing turnaround.”


Behavior problems declined. Morale rose for teachers as well as students.


“The takeaway is that targeted, well-designed science of reading interventions can make a big difference,” said Sarah Novicoff, a doctoral student who worked on the study.

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