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Along with her background as a 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.
How important is it to match a reader to a text?
The Common Core Standards are national standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. They've been adopted by over 45 states and six provinces, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. According to the Common Core website the standards "provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers."
The Common Core Standards place a new emphasis on informational text. There's specific wording about the craft and structure of texts, the integration of knowledge and ideas across multiple texts, and a range of reading and levels of text difficulty. Reading Hall of Famer Tim Shanahan (see Shanahan on Literacy) posted recently about an IRA Webinar in which he outlines what he sees as some of the challenges the CCS present for teachers. Among the challenges (and there are many, but that's too long a post): (1) students will likely be taught from texts that are more challenging than in the past, and (2) the emphasis will be on stretching students to meet the demands of the text rather than matching the text to the reading level of the student.
That's quite a paradigm shift for teachers who work in a district where the edict has been on matching a reader with a specific leveled book. Sure, there are scaffolding strategies teachers can use with students, but if the foundational skills and the "cognitive hooks" needed for understanding aren't there, I worry that a lot of instructional time will be wasted using text that is too challenging. What are your thoughts?