How coaches for teachers could improve reading instruction, close early academic gaps

By: | August 30, 2021

Several recent reports have found that many children are behind in reading due to the pandemic and its massive interruptions in schooling. A July report from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that elementary school children are on average four months behind in reading, compared to pre-pandemic data. Another recent report from NWEA, a nonprofit organization that creates K-12 assessments, found children are scoring 3 to 6 percentiles lower in reading compared to the spring of 2019. Data released late last year show 40 percent of first grade students and 35 percent of second grade students are “significantly at risk” of needing intensive academic intervention, compared to 27 percent and 29 percent the previous year.

Research shows that children who are not proficient in reading by the end of third grade are more likely to be held back and identified as struggling readers in high school; they are also less likely to graduate high school. For decades, America has struggled with reading proficiency. The percentage of fourth-grade students who are proficient in reading has slowly increased in recent years, but still lingers below 40 percent. Part of the problem, some experts argue, is that teachers do not always know or follow research-based methods when teaching kids to read. And while many schools may have a literacy coach or reading interventionist, these staff members are often stretched thin with multiple grade levels to support, said Monica Williams, the field director of the Jumpstart to Early Reading Program.

Those gaps are what Jumpstart is hoping to address this year through its coaching model, which will roll out in up to 40 schools this year.

Read more from The Hechinger Report.

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