The reading wars may finally be at an end as a result of events in Mississippi (“There Is a Right Way to Teach Reading, and Mississippi Knows It,” The New York Times, Dec. 6). The state has made sure that its teachers understand the science of reading.
The operative word is “science.” In 2013, the state’s legislators provided funding to train its teachers what that means. It comes down to a formula: decoding ability x language comprehension = reading comprehension. Phonics encompasses decoding, but it alone is not enough. Children can learn how to sound out letters but still not understand what the word means. To do the latter, children need to be given activities that widen their meaning.
Since training teachers, Mississippi has seen its 4th graders now reading at the national average, while every other state’s 4th graders made no significant progress on this year’s test or actually lost ground. I realize that correlation is not causation, but I submit that the science of reading warrants far greater attention by other states.
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