The path to reading requires quality curriculum

June 12, 2019 | Getting Smart

Here’s a hard fact: A staggering 60 percent of fourth grade students in the United States are struggling to read. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, one-third of fourth-graders and one quarter of eighth-graders aren’t reading at a basic level. Fewer than 40 percent are proficient or advanced. These numbers are even more concerning when we look at the significant proficiency gaps based on race and income and we realize that these gaps have barely moved in the past 25 years.

Emily Hanford’s expansive coverage of this issue in “Hard Words – Why aren’t kids being taught to read” has spurred a national conversation on the “right” way to teach reading. In story after story after story, we’re hearing the complex challenges teachers are facing in helping students to become proficient readers with a focus on the need for stronger training and professional development. And while this op-ed in Education Week started to touch on the important role instructional materials play in this conversation, curriculum has largely been ignored.

We believe materials matter. Research shows that students primarily learn through their interactions with teachers and content. Our organization,, provides free reviews of K-12 English language arts (ELA), math and science programs with a laser focus on the important role of curriculum and why instructional materials need to be aligned to high-quality standards.

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