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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Three years growth in a few months? Don't buy it.

May 4, 2007

Every week headlines from newspapers around the world tout "reading interventions" that claim fantastic results.

Singing software that "boosts students' reading skills by more than a grade level in nine weeks" or a physical education program during which students "did reading exercises and gym activities at the same time" and after the 2 1/2-month study, students increased three grade levels in reading.

Wouldn't it be nice?

To be honest, I haven't looked at the data from the projects I read about. But based on the newspaper stories, I am skeptical about 3 years of growth in 2 ½ months. Aren't you?

Anyone who has worked with a struggling reader knows how hard it can be, and how long it can take to see appreciable growth (particularly as measured by standardized tests). It takes an enormous amount of hard work and dedication from both the child and the teacher. Even then, progress can be slow.

There is a powerful practice called progress monitoring that teachers should be using to assess students' performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. I suspect these "reading interventions" might be using measures such as these to demonstrate growth (I hope they are) and make wild claims about 'increasing three grade levels' (I hope they're not).

If you'd like to learn more, the National Center on Student Progress Monitoring has a webinar called The ABCs of Progress Monitoring in Reading that I encourage you to watch.

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"A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom" —

Robert Frost