What do we mean by reading comprehension?
Let us begin with Allington's article, "What Really Matters When Working With Struggling Readers". Right off the bat I am taken aback that there is research that states "…every child could be reading grade level by the end of first grade. The bad news is that almost no schools in the United States have anything in place that much looks like what the research says young children need to become engaged reader." WOW! The main question in my head is how is this possible? The article was published in 2013, is it still true 4 years later?
He is right on the button, we are led in education not always by best practice and pedagogy but rather as he states "buy our stuff". In my years of teaching I have seen some "bad stuff" that schools are stuck with because the district or even the principal was swayed by the publishers great sales person. I also understand the need to have professionals working with struggling readers and finding funding that is being spent in the wrong places to get true reading specialists or training to teachers in "targeted professional development".
However, I must disagree with eliminating paraprofessionals from instructional roles. In my classroom I could not focus on the those who struggle nor could I individualize my teaching for all the abilities in a first grade classroom without the help of my teacher assistant. She is a vital part of our day. I have trained her well and given her strategies to help me help the students. I think training can be provided to train paraprofessionals to assist teachers better. However, if more schools employed professionally and expertly trained reading specialists then maybe we could achieve that.
I do think we are not preparing teachers to work with struggling readers as we should. Go back 30-28 years and what I remember from my undergraduate reading course was NOTHING on how to work with children who struggle. So perhaps we need to do a better job of training our teachers and providing them with the tools they need to be successful with these students. If the research supports that we need more experts to work with the children then by the same we should be able to use these experts to help us teach our teachers. Why is not every school hiring true reading specialist? Funds need to be allocated for these positions. Our schools are under such pressure to perform on assessments that we have likely lost focus as to what the reading specialist is there to do. If we utilized our reading specialist/coach to the maximum then our teachers would be better trained allowing then our reading specialist to serve his or her role as a true support to the school team.
We also need to educate parents more. I fear that the electronic age of convenience is disrupting our education and as Keene and Zimmerman write, "Electronic media, including the Internet, video games, and portable devices, have increasingly drawn Americans away from reading books." They continue to speak of a problem that is leading to the decline of reading.
But this throws some questions out there. How as educators do we compete? How do we make parents understand the importance of putting the devices away? You can't go into a restaurant, or a park even and not see a child on a device. It is alarming to read that this will lead to a "retreat from participation in civic and cultural life." Are we becoming a "Wall-E" society?
Wife, Mom, Educator and Lifelong Learner