Letter: Young readers need better teaching tactics

Letter to the Editor graphic

Across the country, March is celebrated as National Reading Month. How are we doing as a state in reading? The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released its 2022 report last fall, and it wasn't good. Minnesota’s fourth- and eighth-graders scored worse on national reading tests last year than they have in decades. For example:

  • Only 32% of Minnesota fourth graders read at or above grade level
  • Only 30% of Minnesota eighth graders read at or above grade level

This is not the fault of teachers or students. For decades, we have adopted an ineffective and unscientific approach known as whole-language or balanced literacy. That approach focused on memorizing words or using pictures to figure out what a word says.
However, there is a solution. It's called the science of reading. By contrast, this approach is research-based and relies on a phonics-based approach for teaching reading. Students are taught all the sounds of the English language through systematic phonics instruction. Students are taught to sound out words which help them to decode English words instead of guessing. States that have adopted science of reading-based programs are seeing success and increasing reading scores.

Minnesota's school students are the future of our state. It's time for action. Our students deserve better. Minnesota needs reading instruction based on the science of reading.

Paul Kampe, Red Wing

What To Read Next
Get Local