Choosing instructional materials wisely is one of the most important jobs education leaders and teachers have. Through culturally responsive and sustaining education, all students experience learning that is collaborative, joyful, and empowering. Through this approach, students see their cultural experiences, funds of knowledge, interests, and daily life elevated in all aspects of schooling—from educators’ beliefs and behaviors to the content in the curriculum. Many educators want to embrace culturally responsive and sustaining teaching, but they lack the instructional materials necessary to do so well. This report argues that embracing high-quality instructional materials that are both rigorous and relevant is crucial to addressing equity in education. The report offers promising practices for state and district leaders.
Embracing Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Instructional Materials
Jenny Muñiz (August 2021). Embracing Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Instructional Materials: Promising Strategies for State and District Leaders. Washington, DC: New America.
Learning across boundaries:how parents and teachers are bridging children’s interests
Lori Takeuchi, Sarah Vaala, and June Ahn. Learning across boundaries:how parents and teachers are bridging children’s interests. Spring 2019. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Worksop. New York: New York.
When a young person discovers something that sparks an interest, opportunities to unlock even deeper levels of learning emerge as she becomes motivated to master her knowledge about a particular subject. This report presents findings from separate surveys of 1,550 U.S. parents and 600 pre-K–8 teachers on whether, to what extent, and how U.S. children ages 3–12 are linking their learning experiences across home, school, and community settings. The inquiry paid particular attention to the ways in which caregivers and teachers support and, in some cases, impede the development of young children’s interests and the learning associated with pursuing these interests. Focusing on differences across demographics, the developed environment, and socio-economic status while taking an equity perspective, findings highlight areas of weakness and strength in this ecosystem of connected learning, suggesting what we need to pay attention to if we are intent on facilitating seamless learning across boundaries.
Expanding the Canon: How Diverse Literature Can Transform Literacy Learning
Zapata, A.; Kleekamp, M.; King, C. Expanding the Canon: How Diverse Literature Can Transform Literacy Learning (December 2018). Literacy Leadership Brief. Newark, DE: International Literacy Association.
This brief tackles this issue of expanding the canon of literature from only the classics and award winners to a wide array of works including various perspectives and peoples. The brief states, "Rich possibilities for pedagogy can emerge from literature collections in which all cultures are encompassed, none are excluded, and the site of cross-connections and nuance become the critical points to drive home. For students to recognize their own communities in the books they are taught or self-select is critical to the personal engagement that drives deeper literacy."
Kids & Family Reading Report
Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report. New York: NY.
This biannual survey explores the reading attitudes and experiences that most influence children's reading habits, including reading aloud at home, independent reading at school, presence of books in the home, and more.
Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition
Scholastic (2015) Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition. New York: NY.
This biannual survey explores the reading attitudes and experiences that most influence children's reading habits, including reading aloud at home, independent reading at school, presence of books in the home, and more. Findings from the 2014 survey show that just over 1,000 children ages 6 to 17, only 31 percent said they read a book for fun almost daily, down from 37 percent four years ago. The report asks what makes children frequent readers, creating two models for predicting children's reading frequency-one each among kids ages 6–11 and 12–17-constructed through a regression analysis of more than 130 data measures from the survey. Across both groups, three powerful predictors that children will be frequent readers include: (1) the child's reading enjoyment; (2) parents who are frequent readers; and (3) the child's belief that reading for fun is important.
How Well Are American Students Learning? With Sections on the Gender Gap in Reading, Effects of the Common Core, and Student Engagement
Loveless, T. The 2015 Brown Center Report on American Education How Well Are American Students Learning? With sections on the gender gap in reading, effects of the Common Core, and student engagement (March 2015) Washington, D.C. The Brown Center on Education Policy, The Brookings Institution.
Part I of the 2015 Brown Center Report on American Education: Girls score higher than boys on tests of reading ability. They have for a long time. This section of the Brown Center Report assesses where the gender gap stands today and examines trends over the past several decades. The analysis also extends beyond the U.S. and shows that boys’ reading achievement lags that of girls in every country in the world on international assessments. The international dimension — recognizing that U.S. is not alone in this phenomenon — serves as a catalyst to discuss why the gender gap exists and whether it extends into adulthood.
Girls, boys, and reading
Tom Loveless. How Well Are American Students Learning? Brown Center Report on American Education, March 2015, Volume 3, Number 4. The Brown Center on Education Policy, The Brookings Institution.
Girls score higher than boys on tests of reading ability. They have for a long time. This section of the Brown Center Report assesses where the gender gap stands today and examines trends over the past several decades. The analysis also extends beyond the U.S. and shows that boys’ reading achievement lags that of girls in every country in the world on international assessments. The international dimension — recognizing that U.S. is not alone in this phenomenon — serves as a catalyst to discuss why the gender gap exists and whether it extends into adulthood.
Can Readability Formulas Be Used to Successfully Gauge Difficulty of Reading Materials?
Begeny, J. C. and Greene, D. J. (2014), Can Readability Formulas Be Used to Successfully Gauge Difficulty of Reading Materials? Psychology in the Schools, 51: 198–215.
Teachers, parents and textbook companies use technical "readability" formulas to determine how difficult reading materials are and to set reading levels by age group. This study from North Carolina State University shows that the readability formulas are usually inaccurate and offer little insight into which age groups will be able to read and understand a text. In the study, 360 students (grades 2-5) read six written passages out loud. The researchers assessed the students’ performance, giving each student an "oral reading fluency" score, which is considered a good metric for measuring reading ability. The researchers then used eight different readability formulas to see which level each formula gave to the six written passages. Results varied widely, with one passage being rated from first grade to fifth grade level. The levels assigned by the readability formulas were then compared with researchers’ assessments of each student’s actual ability to read the material. Seven of the eight readability formulas were less than 49 percent accurate, with the worst formula scoring only 17 percent accuracy. The highest-rated formula was accurate 79 percent of the time.
The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children
Naidoo, Jamie C. The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children, adopted by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) on April 5, 2014.
This white paper explores the critical role libraries play in helping children make cross-cultural connections and develop skills necessary to function in a culturally pluralistic society. The paper calls for libraries to include diversity in programming and materials for children as an important piece in meeting the informational and recreational needs of their community. The white paper also includes a comprehensive list of diversity resources, online collection development resources, awards for culturally diverse children’s literature, multicultural children’s program resources and more.
The Joy and Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion
Bridges, L. (2014) The Joy and Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion. New York: Scholastic.
This summary of research and expert opinion highlights the importance of reading volume, stamina and independent reading and how that builds comprehension, background knowledge, vocabulary and fluency skills. The report also discusses the value of reader choice and variety in developing motivation and confidence; guided reading and interactive read alouds in schools; and reading aloud plus talk at home.
Print Books vs. E-books
Chiong, C., Ree, J., & Takeuchi, L. (2012). Print books vs. e-books. Joan Ganz Cooney Center.
This initial small-scale study explored parent–child interactions as they read print and digital books together. How do adults and children read e-books compared to print books? How might the nature of parent-child conversations differ across platforms? Which design features of e-books appear to support parent-child interaction? Do any features detract from these interactions?
The Effect of Mandatory Reading Logs on Children’s Motivation to Read
Pak, S.S.; Weseley, A.J., The Effect of Mandatory Reading Logs on Children’s Motivation to Read. Journal of Research in Education, v22 n1 p251-265 Spring. 2012
Reading logs have become a practice in many elementary schools. Although lack of autonomy undermines intrinsic motivation, no study has examined the effect of logs. In this study, second and third-grade students were assigned either a mandatory or voluntary log and surveyed about their motivation to read at baseline and after two months. Students with mandatory logs expressed declines in both interest and attitudes towards recreational reading in comparison to peers with voluntary logs, and attitudes towards academic reading decreased significantly from pre- to post-test across conditions. Future research should explore alternate ways to promote reading.
Contexts for Engagement and Motivation in Reading
Guthrie, J.T. (2001). Contexts for engagement and motivation in reading. Reading Online, 4(8). International Reading Association: Washington DC.
Engaged reading is a merger of motivation and thoughtfulness. Engaged readers seek to understand; they enjoy learning and they believe in their reading abilities. They are mastery oriented, intrinsically motivated, and have self-efficacy. Teachers create contexts for engagement when they provide prominent knowledge goals, real-world connections to reading, meaningful choices about what, when, and how to read, and interesting texts that are familiar, vivid, important, and relevant.
Dimensions of Children’s Motivation for Reading and Their Relations to Reading Activity and Reading Achievement
Baker, L., & Wigfield, A. (1999). Dimensions of children’s motivation for reading and their relations to reading activity and reading achievement. Reading Research Quarterly, 34, 452-477.
This study was designed to assess dimensions of reading motivation and examine how these dimensions related to students' reading activity and achievement. A heterogeneous urban sample of fifth- and sixth-grade children completed the Motivation for Reading Questionnaire, designed to assess 11 possible dimensions of reading motivation, including self-efficacy, several types of intrinsic and extrinsic reading motives, social aspects of reading, and the desire to avoid reading. The students also completed several different measures of reading activity and reading achievement. The strength of the relations between reading motivation and reading achievement was greater for girls and for white students. Cluster analyses revealed seven distinct groupings of children based on their motivational profiles that were related to reading activity and, to a lesser extent, to reading achievement. The study demonstrates that reading motivation is multidimensional and should be regarded as such in research and in practice.
Changes in Elementary School Children's Achievement Goals for Reading and Writing: Results of a Longitudinal and an Intervention Study
Meece, J.L., & Miller, S.D. (1999). Changes in elementary school children's achievement goals for reading and writing: Results of a longitudinal and an intervention study. Scientific Studies of Reading, 3, 207-229.
An achievement goal framework was used to examine changes in students' motivation for reading and writing in the late elementary years and to evaluate a classroom intervention project. The longitudinal study involved 431 students in Grades 3 to 5. Results showed significant declines in task-mastery and performance goals within the school year and across grade levels. There were few sex differences in students' goals for reading and writing. The intervention project included 8 teachers and 187 students in Grade 3. This study showed how various instructional modifications can influence students' achievement goals, perceived competence, and strategy use in reading and writing. As teachers provided more opportunities for students to complete challenging, collaborative, and multiday assignments, students became less focused on performance goals, and low-achieving students reported less work avoidance. The educational implications of this research are discussed.
School Libraries Work! A Compendium of Research Supporting the Effectiveness of School Libraries
Scholastic, Inc. (2015) School Libraries Work! A Compendium of Research Supporting the Effectiveness of School Libraries (2016 Edition).
School Libraries Work! seeks to empower librarians, classroom teachers, school and district leaders, policy makers, parents, and communities by arming them with the most powerful research-based frameworks, recommendations, and support for school library programs. This compendium updates and builds upon the 2008 edition, reinforcing the most relevant themes from that report while highlighting recent research at both the national and state levels. At a national level, this report highlights key findings from the National Center for Literacy Education, along with the School Library Journal's (SLJ) national analysis of the relationship between librarian staffing and the National Assessments of Educational Progress (NAEP) fourth-grade reading scores. Free registration required to download the report.