An article about how to teach reading made the front page of the Sunday edition of The Seattle Times yesterday.
Veteran education writer Katherine Long went to Pennsylvania, where she drove 500 miles across the state learning about districts that have adopted a curriculum based on the latest science around reading instruction. Their approach is being replicated here in Washington state by some teachers. Parent advocates in the dyslexia community are fueling much of this work through their tireless advocacy, hoping it will catch fire and create a much-needed statewide re-alignment of reading instruction with best practices.
This fresh round of scrutiny around how reading is taught comes on the heels of mostly flat and in many cases disappointing results from the most recent Nation’s Report Card (NAEP or National Assessment of Education Progress). In Washington and nationally, reading (and math and science) scores were very much a mixed bag, and were especially weak for students who were already scoring on the low end of the scale.
So how did Washington do?
NAEP scores are worth taking the time to understand because they are widely considered the best opportunity for one state to see how their students compare to students in other states. “I always turn to NAEP results to make comparisons between the academic performance of our students and their peers nationwide,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction in a press release.
4th Grade – mixed results
Washington 4th graders scored at the national average in math and reading. In looking at trends over time, Washington 4th graders in 2019 are essentially scoring about the same as they did in 2003, while nationally and in Massachusetts (considered the gold standard in public education) performance is up. Yet earlier this decade, Washington 4th graders were above average in reading and math.
8th Grade – steady improvement
For Washington 8th graders the news is more positive. They scored above the national average in math and reading. And those scores have improved since 2003.
Washington’s NAEP scores relative to other states
Matthew M. Chingos is vice president for education data and policy at the Urban Institute. He put together this chart to show the top and bottom five states with the biggest changes (gains or declines) in scores. Washington’s scores dropped farther than all but two states.
National reaction from education policy leaders
Want to learn more about national reaction NAEP scores? Read What to make of the 2019 results from the Nation’s Report Card at Education Next here.