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Special Report: Balanced literacy & dyslexia

Schools work to serve students with differing reading abilities

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Imagine being a fourth grader who can’t read. Or parents fighting to get a dyslexia diagnosis and proper services for their child in school. This is a decades-old problem — according to parents of former and current students. And while school districts believe they are better equipped than ever before to address these issues, some disagree, pointing to what they see as inadequate approaches to teaching reading in elementary school.

Seeing the term “balanced literacy,” the name Lucy Calkins and her Units of Study curriculum or the training program from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Program, gives many local parents — and others nationwide — pause. All three have come under fire going back several years, not just stemming from admissions of inadequacy and an incomplete approach — namely a lack of focus on phonics — according to a recent article in The New York Times.

Where some local parents really seem to have an issue with reading in schools is when they have a child who is dyslexic — a “learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding),” according to the Mayo Clinic — which requires more time and a more specialized multisensory approach to teaching using the Orton-Gillingham method used at the Windward School “for students with dyslexia and language-based learning disabilities,” according to its website, in White Plains and Manhattan or the Orton-Gillingham-based Wilson Reading System, which is not to be confused with Wilson’s Fundations program.

Parents of dyslexic children praise the Orton-Gillingham multisensory method that is used in all classes throughout the day at Windward School, noting that it’s not only the method, but the time spent using the method that helps their students.

Though multiple parents have said that two to four “busloads” of Scarsdale students attend Windward, Scarsdale Schools assistant superintendent for special education and student services Eric Rauschenbach said 14 elementary school students and eight middle school students currently attend that specialized immersive school, many of whom opted not to take the district up on services in Scarsdale before transferring their children.

“We also have many times that number of students who have decoding issues in our elementary and middle school who are participating in our Orton-Gillingham-based programs and making great progress,” he said.

One current Scarsdale mom of three, who asked to remain anonymous for the privacy of her two kids who are at Windward, said it was a struggle with the district to get her second child evaluated after “they totally missed my first child,” and at first initially “refused” to do the evaluation.

“I can tell you exactly why, because it’s too expensive for the district to deal with them because they have no one that’s properly trained,” the mother, who is also dyslexic, said. “Going to a three-hour course or a two-day course doesn’t make you a trained teacher in dyslexia. I can do the same thing, as a layperson, as they can and they are not trained in dealing with kids who are dyslexic. They are not trained in Orton-Gillingham and they’re not prepared.”

With the two kids in their second year at Windward, one is no longer medicated for anxiety brought on by struggles in the classroom and is “back to being herself” (outgoing, confident and social).

When this mom went through Scarsdale schools, dyslexia was something “no one talked about.”

“And now we’re able to talk about it and they’re still not doing anything about it,” she said. “At my first IEP [Individualized Education Plan] meeting for my kids they didn’t want me to use the word ‘dyslexia.’ It was just as bad as when I was a kid.”

This mother said she would like to see the district use the Windward approach — the district says it is — where it’s not about associating words and pictures, but “actually having to learn the words.”

“I think there’s a lot to learn and I think it’s something the district is capable of doing. The best place to start is they hired all these reading specialists for kindergarten and first grade and there’s no reason they shouldn’t know Orton-Gillingham. They should be testing kids to see if they have dyslexia or something else that can be impeding their reading,” she said. “They can look for dyslexia, they can look for auditory processing. That’s all stuff they should be able to do. If [New York City] can afford to do it, Scarsdale can, too.”

Evan Lazarus, now 23, was a fourth grader at Quaker Ridge Elementary School and, according to his mother, Tracy, could not read and could not write. Tracy said she was tired of her dyslexic son “being passed from year to year” and not showing progress. Having an aide sit with him during class was not effective.

“If you can’t read and the person who is sitting with you can’t teach you to read, you’re still not reading and writing,” she said. “He did the resource room. Those people are amazing, but I feel they didn’t have a program for kids who are dyslexic who need this immersive language learning experience.”

There were two things that pushed Tracy over the edge and led her to send Evan to Windward the next school year: 1) One of the district’s solutions was to allow Evan to type instead of write the following year and 2) was when the school psychologist told her, “Maybe someday your child can go to community college.”

“At that moment we knew we had to take our kid out of the school and send him to Windward,” Tracy said. “It was the best gift. Now I could afford to do that, but it’s extremely upsetting to me that I paid my taxes in this town and I was supposed to be sending my kids to a school that had great education. Here my child is not able to read and write in fourth grade, the impact on your psyche and everything about that is unbelievable.”

Evan, who returned to the high school for freshman year, graduated from SHS in 2016 and then from Tulane University last year, is the most avid reader in the family now and is gainfully employed by Quest Diagnostics in Brooklyn, where he lives.

For Evan to get his first progress toward reading and writing as a fifth grader meant he had a lot of catching up to do.

“You’re past those early moments of teaching reading and writing,” Tracy said. “Your brain is in a different place. It’s not a quick fix, but he left there reading and writing and he went back for Scarsdale High School and that was a great experience for him. The high school was the right place for him at that time and he had been remediated where he was able to be, in a mainstream setting with limited support, but he had good support. That set him up for his life going forward. If we didn’t intervene as parents, if we didn’t pursue Windward and we didn’t have the ability to pay for it, Scarsdale Schools would have never, never taught my son to read.”

While the end result was positive, looking back Tracy wishes she had done things differently, such as intervening earlier, being more aggressive and pushing the district to pay for the outside placement, though she did not want to sue the district.

“I just wanted my kid to be better and to save him academically so he could have a successful life, which he’s able to do now, and that’s not thanks to the Scarsdale school system elementary years,” she said. “The high school was a different experience. He was in the A-School [Alternative School] and had an amazing education there. The teachers cared for him, they took care of him. They understood his learning style and they worked with him.”

Evan was devastated to leave Quaker Ridge and not be able to experience the middle school with his friends, but deep down he knew it was the right thing at the time. Despite a summer of tears, getting on the bus to Windward that first day, he said, “I gotta do what I gotta do.” His mother still gets emotional telling that story.

Evan called his education “a long road” from sitting in third grade at a “special table” feeling “so othered” — though his classmates were “very supportive” and his teachers were “great” — and still not making progress.

“It felt very heartbreaking at the time that I couldn’t get the grasp of it,” he said. “I was very frustrated about that.”

Having to leave Scarsdale also made him “so heartbroken,” but soon enough he embarked on a “very life-changing” journey that led back to a successful high school, college and now start to his professional career.

“Windward changed his life and he’s all the better for it,” Tracy said. “I don’t have any regrets about that at all, but thinking back how incredulous is it that the school district can’t teach your child the basics and doesn’t own up to that?”

The Goldoff family moved to Scarsdale last year from New York City, where both kids, who are classified as dyslexic, attended private schools, including Gateway School and Mary McDowell Friends School. Locally they are both in public schools, one at Quaker Ridge Elementary School and heading to the middle school in the parallel program next year, the other actually at Edgemont High School.

Mom Beth Goldoff knew by the time her son was in second grade and wasn’t catching on with the Fountas & Pinnell method and after he made “no significant improvement” when he was in a co-taught class in third grade that he needed something more. She had taken him to the Yale Child Study Team at the Yale Center for Dyslexia as a third grader.

“We knew early on that that’s definitely what it was,” Goldoff said. “At the time they don’t specifically say it’s dyslexia. I don’t know why they don’t like that term in the schools, but they don’t. In NYC with free appropriate public education (FAPE) they do allow you to switch — and reimburse you.”

Goldoff’s son found success at Gateway, but as a fourth grader had “a lot of catch-up to do.” “He got there and it’s ‘forget everything you ever learned and now we’re going to start over with a very explicit O-G program’,” Mom said. “That was great. It was successful.”

When the family moved to Brooklyn they transferred both kids to Mary McDowell Friends, which was “wonderful.”

“Then the pandemic came and the tuitions at these schools are astronomical,” Goldoff said. “At the time the DOE [Department of Education] was a total mess. They were behind in almost three years of payments for us that we were owed back. At that time I had to go to hearings often and you have to constantly keep up with all your payment histories. You’d go to a hearing and the DOE wouldn’t show up or they didn’t have the proper IEP or it wasn’t updated. My husband and I kind of lost patience with that. It was just a lot of back-end work just to make sure my kids were getting a proper education. And they were, but it was too much.”

They had been thinking of moving and had an eye on Scarsdale, where her son started eighth grade in the parallel program at the middle school.

“He noticed from being at the special ed schools that he was very far behind [others in Scarsdale] because they were teaching just to him and where he was at, which was fine. But he definitely feels way more confident being in a neurodiverse community of children in school,” Goldoff said.

He transferred to Edgemont for ninth grade as he continues to use the Wilson method there and “because they can follow the program that he’s on and he is having a successful year there,” Mom said. “He’s happy at Edgemont — he really likes it. He’s kind of getting the best of both worlds of being a Scarsdale resident and having a nice program that works for him at Edgemont.”

Goldoff’s daughter has had “fantastic” teachers at Quaker Ridge using the Wilson method and making sure “she’s getting enough to sustain what’s going on.”

Goldoff would like to see the parallel program continue at the high school level and statewide she believes there needs to be “a better literacy program from the beginning,” adding, “I don’t believe kids should have to wait until third grade to fail and then to have to catch up … There’s a big overhaul that needs to be done.”

Edgemont mother of three Laurie Puhn Feinstein couldn’t agree more, both locally and at the state level. As a lawyer, human rights advocate and mother of a dyslexic child just finishing first grade, she is pushing for all schools to do better to serve students with special needs.

An important bill was recently passed in New York State to establish a Dyslexia Task Force that essentially could take care of the proposals in other bills being sponsored throughout the state:

• Require school districts to conduct early screening for dyslexia for all children.

• Establish interventions for children with dyslexia or other phonological learning differences.

• Ensure that all required literacy classes for teachers include the structured multisensory approach.

• Require a reading level assessment and dyslexia screening for certain individuals who are incarcerated.

Feinstein would like to see Edgemont and other schools get a jump on the first three bills, noting that New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently announced mandatory dyslexia screening in city schools.

“Why is the mandatory screening important is the question and the answer is because without it, dyslexia is often camouflaged as a[nother] disability,” Feinstein said.

She said the Calkins three-cueing method of looking at a picture and making a guess isn’t reading. She also takes exception with the Fountas & Pinnell leveled reader books that use repetitive sentence structure. Parents are told their kids are making progress from level to level, but a child “wise enough to catch on to what is expected” can “read” the book, or appear to do so, Feinstein said.

“That’s what happened to my child,” she said. “My child could memorize these books and I’m being told he’s making progress, and I can understand from the teacher’s perspective that he’s a bright child and he engages in the classroom and it looks that way. But my son’s dyslexia was only caught because I pushed and pushed and pushed.”

Feinstein credited “time” and “money” — her time and her money — for being able to get a private evaluation and to make sure she could provide what her child needs.

“I’m not saying the school wouldn’t have found it at some point, but they wouldn’t have found it by now,” Feinstein said. “What happens to children is it’s camouflaged and/or it’s called a behavioral issue, meaning that the child’s not paying attention, the child is hyperactive or they’re not learning because they’re not listening. Now that child may have an inattentive problem, that child may be hyperactive, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have dyslexia and in fact there’s almost a 40% overlap of dyslexia and ADHD.”

Without professional development and proper training, teachers can’t identify the issue or educate the student, she said. By the time a student reaches those later elementary school years, and learning to read becomes reading to learn, the student can’t advance in any subject in a meaningful way.

“Now you can’t learn social studies, you can’t learn science, you can’t learn math,” Feinstein said. “You want screening to be mandatory so you catch it in kindergarten or in first grade so the child can begin to receive intervention.”

Greenville and Seely Place elementary schools in Edgemont each have two reading specialists to work with the building’s youngest students and one is Wilson Reading System trained. What the students need, however, is the proper amount of time with the specialists and the system in order to make substantial progress over time. When that doesn’t happen in a wealthy school district, parents take matters into their own hands and send their kids to a private school like Windward. As Feinstein put it, “people who can buy their way out of this problem” do that. She doesn't fault them for it and she knows that if she needs to go that route she will do that. While the potential having to do that is disappointing, it’s also inequitable from a systematic standpoint.

Not only is Windward right down the road for those who need it, the Windward Institute provides training. “Where is the partnership [with local schools]?” Feinstein asks, noting that kids of all abilities should be proficient.

“You want to talk about mental health?” Feinstein said. “You know what it feels like to a child who can’t read? You know what mental health issues and self-esteem issues that child struggles with? To not know what’s going on and to feel stupid?”

Feinstein believes Edgemont schools are “trying” and has “optimism” going forward, but wants to see more partnerships to achieve the best outcomes for all students.

“We are not starting from scratch,” Feinstein said. “Edgemont has some good programs and set-ups and teachers on this issue. They have the capacity to be even better. There are caring teachers here. There are people who want the children to read. They want them to learn. They believe they can learn and we can work together on this. Some of this comes from parents needing more knowledge on how IEP goals should be written using SMART [specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented and time-bound], putting in progress that should be monitored monthly and the goals should be written so that is it data-oriented.”

Feinstein offered five important tips to parents to serve as advocates for their families:

1) If your child is having trouble learning to read and the school tells you it is a behavioral issue, not a reading problem, trust your gut. Behavioral issues could be exacerbated by an underlying disability.

2) Even if the school does not think your child needs to be evaluated, you can easily request it anyway by submitting a one-page letter asking for an IEP evaluation and stating that you have concerns that your child is not learning to read.

3) If you are told that children learn to read at different ages and you should be patient and wait and see, do not. Phonological Awareness (PA) precedes actual reading and can be measured with standard tests when given appropriately. PA difficulties are often the basis of a dyslexia diagnosis or reading disability for young children.

4) By law, the parent(s)/guardian(s) are vital and equal members of the CSE/IEP team. That means you can call a CSE (Committee on Special Education) meeting when you have reason to believe the IEP is not being followed or that it needs to be modified, and you are an equal collaborator on writing IEP goals and asking for services.

5) To learn more about obtaining the most out of the IEP process, read “Dyslexia Advocate! How to Advocate for a Child with Dyslexia Within the Public Education System,” by Kelli Sandman-Hurley (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2016).

Scarsdale’s balanced literacy

To Scarsdale assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment Dr. Edgar McIntosh and elementary ELA coordinator Dr. Susan Luft, balanced literacy means using a wide range of resources to educate students.

“What we do here in Scarsdale is we truly think about what the balance is,” McIntosh said. “The criticisms of Teachers College Reading and Writing Project are around its deficits, its identified deficits, in the area of explicit instruction, and that’s around phonics and phonemic awareness …

“There has been criticism about that, but what’s important to know is historically we’ve been very intentional about making sure students receive the explicit instructions around reading and writing to support all the different learners.”

He added, “What has been important to me all along since my time here (four years) is that we have never not had elements of explicit instruction in literacy that have gone alongside of what we do believe is a strength of the Reading and Writing Project, which is in developing the dispositions of a reader, the lifelong habits of a reader, a program that develops student agency and choice, and also engages students in critical thinking about reading and writing.”

Luft called Teachers College “a learning community” that has “tons of revisions every year,” which is what she likes about it. Luft called it the “basic foundation” for a larger scope of programs and stands by its inclusion in Scarsdale’s curriculum.

“Really what you have is almost like two camps when you hear about these reading wars,” she said. “You have the balanced literacy camp and then you have more of a structured literacy camp. What I think is the most essential piece in a balanced literacy program, which is what we foster here, is that you have all of those systems, you have a strong systematic phonics program that’s included.”

A typical day/week for a K-2 student in Scarsdale includes a reading workshop, writing workshop and a phonics workshop and shared and guided reading instruction.

“All of those systems together create the balance and so the balance does have an emphasis on decoding skills,” Luft said. “But it also has a strong emphasis on the love of reading and inspiration through books that are considered high interest. We’re reaching our audience of learners by providing them with what they come to school with and what they need once they get there, and that’s a spectrum, a variety.”

Luft, who works alongside another coordinator, Michelle O’Donnell, credited a “strong team of educators that are constantly learning” themselves with professional development that is “ongoing.” Luft has been with the district 23 years, McIntosh four and Teachers College Reading and Writing has been used for about 12 years in two Scarsdale elementary schools and eight years for all five.

“We’ve always had a balanced literacy curriculum,” Luft said. “We’ve always had that. We’ve always had a balanced literacy guide. There was a great deal of autonomy. Different teachers at different grade levels had professional choice in exactly what they were going to teach.”

Quaker Ridge and Heathcote elementary schools were the first to use Teachers College at the preference of the building principals. Fox Meadow and Edgewood were using Teachers College spinoff LitLife, while Greenacres continued with more of an autonomy structure.

“It came to a point where the need for more structure and more consistency across the five schools was expected by the curriculum office and I think by the community itself,” Luft said.

Now phonics is taught in a variety of ways using Teachers College, Heggerty Phonemic Awareness, Fundations and Fountas & Pinnell as some examples. “We have multiple sources that come together that are used to create our balanced literacy structure,” Luft said. “It’s not just one.”

The district relies on consultants and other experts in the field to “stay on top of what’s going on,” Luft said.

“When we heard about the Reading Wars in 2019 — they’ve always been around — and the latest criticism of T.C. we immediately leaned into some of our friends in the field for support,” Luft said. “Lately we’ve been studying the work of [Kari] Yates and [Jan] Burkins, who have written about rebalancing the balanced literacy classroom. Teachers across the district have been studying that work, not every teacher, but enough to spread it out. It’s hard to say we’re solely involved in T.C. instruction. That’s our basic foundation and then we go from there with our professional judgment.”

McIntosh said the district also follows NextGen state standards in ELA (English language arts) that are “foundational,” and the only way to do that is to diversify when it comes to decoding.

“The only way we can really honor and support our students and the expectations we have from New York State and from ourselves is if we provide both of those ways of learning and teaching,” he said.

Each building also has a reading interventionist for the first graders for students who are not meeting benchmarks. Scarsdale has Multi-Tiered System of Supports in place to focus on literacy and reading.

“We continue to respond to that as a way to make sure every single student in the class is both being challenged, having an opportunity to be creative, explore, expand. But if there are students who are struggling in some ways [we make sure] there are structures and systems in place to help support them,” McIntosh said.

For students with dyslexia, McIntosh said there are “structured approaches” delivered in a “range of ways.”

“They can be delivered within the classroom, but also there are students who benefit from a smaller setting for part of the instructional day,” he said. “Those are students who often have special education needs, so there is a very careful eye on those students who have been identified. The interventions that are used there are very closely monitored through their IEPs.”

Luft said Heggerty, and Orton-Gillingham Wilson and Preventing Academic Failure (PAF) are “proven” to help dyslexic students as they “target just that skill that they need” to help them “crack the code,” while also focusing on comprehension in the general classroom so the words have “meaning.”

“There is so much involved in the school day, so much that is literacy-based,” Luft said. “It’s the currency of school. There’s a lot of time spent on thinking this through and making sure it’s appropriate, educationally sound and also that it’s joyful. It’s really, really important to us and the children that they have a joyful experience when they come each day.”

McIntosh and Luft said the district made a large investment in decodable texts for primary learners to strengthen library classrooms and building libraries, too. “With a decodable book you can’t use the pictures to help figure out the word — you have to use what you know about phonics and phonemes,” Luft said.

Rauschenbach said the district does use “multisensory phonics instruction and reading instruction” within the learning resources centers and ICTs (integrated co-teaching classrooms) for students who need it. He said elementary faculty are trained to use Wilson and PAF.

“We take great care for kids that have decoding issues to really focus in on those either through our reading specialists or our special education teachers,” Rauschenbach said. “Disabilities aren’t always clear-cut, so for a student with dyslexia there is a comorbidity rate that is pretty high, so they often have other challenges that go along with that, so the program they need depends on what the totality of the student’s challenges and strengths are.”

Rauschenbach said the K-2 years are almost exclusively focused on literacy between decoding, comprehension, writing and listening skills. Rauschenbach said choosing between a focused, “homogenous” school like Windward and a public school that provides a “richer, wider experience from a curricular standpoint,” can be a tough decision for a parent to make based on the needs of each child.

“I don’t want to pretend that having dyslexia doesn’t make school harder — it does — but it’s trying to help those students make appropriate gains in the decoding realm and the reading realm while still also giving them the wide and rich access to the rest of the curriculum so they’re not playing catch-up later on down the road,” Rauschenbach said.

Rauschenbach referred to the “end of the road” as “very bright” for Scarsdale students who have learning disabilities. Prior to his eight years in the district office he was a high school LRC (learning resource center) department chair and teacher for seven years. Kids who stayed in the district or came back from private schools like Windward all thrived at the high school.

“Our kids really do phenomenally well moving on to post-secondary colleges that are super competitive and finding the right fit for themselves,” he said. “We have had kids with dyslexia at all levels of classes when they hit the high school. They do very well and many of the kids who go to Windward do return to us for high school and they fit right in with classmates who have been here the entire time.”

During Rauschenbach’s tenure, the special education program has expanded and LRC teachers have received “access to multisensory approach training” and new hires become certified if they aren’t already.

“I think we have special education programs that we can be very proud of,” Rauschenbach said. “We have interventions that meet dyslexic kids where they are at, and have them make good progress. I would encourage the people who are feeling … that we can’t handle dyslexic kids to come and talk with me and have that conversation.”

One of the districtwide goals of the recently former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Hagerman was to keep more special needs students in district for both the cost saving to the district, but also to keep them connected to their community. Luft believes the reading interventionists have helped accomplish that goal.

“It is our goal that our literacy program K-12 meets the needs of all the students in Scarsdale,” McIntosh said. “That’s ultimately where we want to land. There are programs that have been built and will continue to be built to meet the range of needs of kids through the 8-1-2 classrooms. It’s been expanding as another way of holding our students in our community. It’s something we’re very passionate about and interested in doing.”

Edgemont making strides

Edgemont has spent the last six or seven years revamping its elementary level literacy program, according to director of K-12 curriculum and instructional technology Dr. Michael Curtin, who said that work is “continuing.” Part of the goal was to make reading instruction more consistent across the two elementary schools, each grade and each classroom by adopting a “workshop approach,” which he noted includes phonics instruction.

Curtin said Greenville and Seely Place elementaries are not Teachers College schools “per se,” as the district doesn’t have trainers work with faculty, but the approach to reading is based on Teachers College, in addition to being “eclectic” and “recognizing that no one program is going to be a silver bullet, that every kid is unique and different and no program is perfect.”

“The big sort of criticism of Lucy Calkins’ work is that it focuses too much on high-level comprehension and strategies as opposed to low level phonics and we reject the notion that that’s an either/or,” Curtin said. “They’re both important components. That’s where the term ‘balanced literacy’ comes from — it’s recognizing that there should be balance.”

The district “upgraded” to Wilson’s Fundations for K-2 for phonics.

Edgemont used to have “a little bit of a mishmosh” from teacher to teacher and has used a literacy consultant for seven years to work on “a more consistent, unified and articulated approach,” Curtin said.

Curtin noted that while state tests are “not incredibly useful” to measure the success of the reading program, the Fountas & Pinnell benchmark assessment is administered twice a year and this year the district started using the Renaissance Star Reading assessment for grades 2-6, though perhaps most important is the informal teacher observation assessment. All the same assessment strategies are used by Scarsdale as well.

“We really try to look at how a kid reads from many different perspectives and I think the results so far have been encouraging,” Curtin said. “We definitely see kids, especially kids who are struggling readers, making really good progress. Both teachers in the classroom and the specialists in the buildings are better able to meet their needs given all the time we’ve spent on professional learning and curriculum development in literacy over these last years.”

With two reading specialists in each elementary school, Curtin said the schools are well equipped to help students in need and have changed the old approach to give the students more time to work on reading.

“Because the approach we’ve adopted really does a good job of accommodating a wide range of readers and reading abilities within a single classroom, it really allows teachers to differentiate,” Curtin said. “Now those same students will stay in the classroom for their reading lesson with their homeroom teacher and then get supplementary support from their reading teacher at a different time during the day.”

To help students with dyslexia, Curtin said the district is training reading teachers and special educators in the Wilson Reading System.

“We are [also] talking about sending additional teachers for their Level 2 certification so that we can actually have teachers on staff who can teach other teachers how to do that,” Curtin said. “We also are now starting to talk about sending teachers for training in PAF, which is essentially the Windward approach to reading instruction for kids with learning difficulties.”

Curtin said Edgemont is trending toward “keeping kids in the district.”

“I think we’re able to support a broader range of students than we were before because of the work we’ve done on literacy and the different model that we’ve adopted,” he said.

Curtin said Fountas & Pinnell’s “Literacy Continuum” is “one of the bibles of reading instruction” and “describes every little step involved in learning to read.”

“No one program is going to give you all of those thousands of steps, but the goal is to understand the process by which a student learns how to read and make sure that we have an array of tools to support that progression because it’s going to look different from one kid to another,” Curtin said.

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