EdNext Podcast: Overcoming Knowledge Deficits to Boost Reading Comprehension

It is often said that, of the subjects taught in school, reading is first among equals – a prerequisite for success in any other area, especially as students move on to college. If that’s the case, though, there is cause for concern. While the math achievement of American students has risen steadily in recent decades, especially in the early grades, reading scores have barely budged. What’s behind those trends? And what can teachers do about them?

In this week’s podcast, Education Next’s Marty West talks with Doug Lemov, Colleen Driggs, and Erica Woolway, authors of the new book Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction.

Doug, Colleen, and Erica are all leaders of the Teach Like a Champion team at Uncommon Schools, where they work to design and implement teacher training programs based on the study of high-performing teachers.

As they explain in the podcast, they were intrigued by data showing that students’ reading scores are much more correlated with their family’s income than math scores are.  They also heard from college professors about their many students who are unprepared to handle college-level reading assignments. They wondered what was happening with reading instruction and began studying teachers to see what might be going on.

You can find an excerpt from their book which focuses on the role of background knowledge in reading comprehension here. Their book offers practical strategies that teachers can use to help students to overcome knowledge deficits.

Read a transcript of this podcast here.

The EdNext Podcast is available on iTunesSoundcloudStitcher and here every Wednesday.

—Education Next

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