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How can we help older students who struggle to read?

Forbes writer Natalie Wexler interviewed Advanced Education Research and Development Fund (AERDF) Reading Reimagined Program Executive Director Rebecca Kockler about her answer to this question.

Many students above third or fourth grade struggle with reading. Evidence suggests a large contributing factor has been overlooked—and there may be a fairly simple way to address it.

One question that hasn’t gotten enough attention is whether students are able to make the transition from deciphering, or “decoding,” simple words to decoding the words with multiple syllables they encounter at higher grade levels.

The solution is to provide students with decoding instruction at higher grade levels—but not the same kind that the evidence indicates works in K-2. At those lower grade levels, children need to practice the phonics patterns they’ve learned using simple “decodable” texts (think, “The cat sat on the mat”).

For older students, Kockler says “you have to do this simultaneously with building knowledge” and other kinds of instruction—for example, morphology (understanding prefixes and suffixes). And, “you have to do it in the context of meaningful text.”

Read the rest of her words and how else Reading Reimagined’s work is focused on eradicating illiteracy.


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