Policy, Politics, Statistics

July 24, 2017

When I talk with teachers, I often find them flummoxed by my descriptions of "unexpected" schools. That’s the term I use to describe high-performing and rapidly improving schools with large populations of children of color and children living in poverty. These schools don’t fit the well-worn pattern of academic achievement tightly correlating with family income and ethnicity, a connection...

April 11, 2017

People who haven’t hung around schools much might be puzzled by the essential argument that I am making in my new book, Schools That Succeed, which is that schools should be organized in ways to ensure that all students learn a great deal. They might think: “They’re schools! What else would they be...

April 3, 2017

In 1987 then-U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett flew to Chicago and pronounced its schools “the worst in the nation.”

“I’m not sure there’s a system as bad as the Chicago system,” he said.

Detroit and a few other cities were clear rivals, but...

February 22, 2017

On one of her first days on the job, Betsy DeVos did what any U.S. Secretary of Education might do: She visited a public school.

Such an event might have gone relatively unnoticed if not for widespread worries that she neither understands public schools nor appreciates their central importance in building a civic community.

So, good for her.

She needs to see how public...

October 17, 2016

A well-designed summer program can help low-income students read and do math better. In fact, attending a summer program regularly for as little as five weeks for two years in a row could result in about a quarter of a year’s gain in both reading and math for students from low-income families.

That is the rather surprising finding of...

March 31, 2016

I recently learned that my work has been used as justification by school officials who advocate deliberately concentrating poverty in a few schools.

My reaction is dismay.

The high-performing, high-poverty schools I write about hold many lessons, but none of them is that we should deliberately...

January 4, 2016

2015 was a banner year for all who care about what happens to dyslexic boys, girls, men and women, according to Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity (YCDC) Co-Directors Bennett Shaywitz, MD and Sally Shaywitz, MD.

Open Doors

"Truly, the door has opened and light is beginning to come in for dyslexia," writes the YCDC team in an email. The doctors are referring to a changing...

October 6, 2015

Here we go again.

Last week, Dale Farran and a team of researchers at the University of Tennessee concluded that preschool education gets kids off to a great academic start, but by the end of kindergarten the results start to wear off. And, by the end of second grade you can’t even tell that the kids had attended preschool or not.

That suggests that preschool education is a lousy...

June 11, 2015

We Need Diverse Books™ (WNDB) just launched a Booktalking Kit that is now available to download at no cost. The kit is comprised of 30 titles and helps to increase the comfort level involved in identifying, reading, and discussing books that feature diverse...

December 18, 2014

Headstrong Nation's "Learn The Facts" sheet underpins current thinking by this national advocacy group of adult dyslexics and parents. The goal is to achieve greater understanding and acceptance of the challenges and strengths of those who struggle to read due...

November 4, 2014

Want to win an argument about literacy? Just claim your approach is “balanced.”

Balanced is a affirmative term. That’s why Fox-News claims to be “fair and balanced.” It not only makes your position sound reasonable, but implies your opponents may be a bit off, you know, imbalanced.

So it is not too surprising that school principals and district literacy leaders often...

January 30, 2014

President Obama's 2014 State of the Union speech put preschool in the spotlight. Obama challenged Congress to build on programs that exist in 30 states to provide high-quality preschool for every child. "Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education," he said. "And as...

December 5, 2013

Have you ever thought of how the digital world influences us — and by extension, our children? A number of recent articles made me rethink access, about the use and popularity of digital books by young readers (and their parents), and about what and how is presented in them in both mediums. We've all heard about the digital divide; a...

November 7, 2012

Important professional books — you know, the sort you need to have close at hand, come along every once in a while. We've gathered many of those titles in our Research by Topic section. Look for those listed under Foundational Research. There you'll find the citations for important work such as Chall's Learning...

February 15, 2012

If you've been following the news, you may have read about proposed state legislation (in Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and Tennessee) that would make students repeat third grade if they can't pass the state reading exams.

Our Rocket Blast carried the story...

May 24, 2010

Most of us are familiar with the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), whose scores form the Nation's Report Card. The most recent Report Card came out in March 2010, and scores suggested students reading performance from 2007 to 2009 remained essentially flat. As before, almost a third of the nation's fourth...

July 22, 2009

The elementary school my girls go to recently underwent a huge renovation to accommodate predicted growth in our area. In addition to the growth, about 100 kids are being redistricted to our school because the other local school is overcrowded. Our school will be opening with over 500 kids this fall, a much larger population than we've had in the past.

We'll have four or five...

June 30, 2009

I read with interest this story from the Washington Post that describes one family's experience with year round school.

As a Mom who juggles work and young kids, the transition to summer for my family is nothing short of absolutely chaotic. My house has become nothing...

April 16, 2008

Around our town, parents of preschoolers are busy observing in classrooms and filling out lengthy application forms for next year's preschool. Most of our preschools have a $25–$40 application fee and waiting lists a mile long, so it's a process that many undertake cautiously and anxiously.

I'm often asked what to look for in a good preschool program. I'll share some resources on the...

March 18, 2008

We're approaching the fourth grading period at our school, which leads some teachers and parents to think about whether a struggling child should be retained. It's never an easy conversation to have.

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"Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear." —

Judy Blume