Georgia’s reading scores: No great leaps this year.

The latest NAEP scores are the usual mixed bag for Georgia: The 2009 reading scores in fourth and eighth grades are relatively flat , but both grades gained five points in the percentage of students moving into at least the basic proficiency level between 2005 and last year.

While math scores are improving, national reading scores are remaining flat, raising issues about whether children are reading enough.

While math scores are improving, national reading scores are remaining flat, raising issues about whether children are reading enough.

Sixty-three percent of Georgia’s fourth-graders scored at basic proficiency or better, compared with 66 percent of students nationally.

Among the state’s eighth-graders, 72 percent scored at basic proficiency or better, compared with 74 percent nationally.

In explaining the nation’s sluggish scores, experts point to the fact that today’s students are spending an increasing amount of their lives in front of screens, playing video games, texting friends or surfing the Internet.

The New York Times spotlighted an interesting aspect of the new reading scores:

The new scores indicate that one group of students has made significant gains in reading over the last decade: the nation’s worst readers. The average scores of fourth-graders in the bottom 10 percent for reading increased by 16 points from 2000 to 2009. In contrast, the average scores of the nation’s best fourth-grade readers, those in the top 10 percent, rose by only 2 points during the same period.

“All the progress in reading is being made at the bottom,” said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution “Our worst readers are getting better, but our best readers are staying about the same.”

While Georgia still trails the nation, the state contends that we’ve been improving at a faster clip.  However, fourth grade scores slipped a bit in 2009, which seems troubling given the intense focus on reading in Georgia schools.

Georgia is garnering national attention for some scores. In its release today, Education Trust cited Georgia for narrowing the Latino-white gap by seven percentage points.

The  Georgia Department of Education sent out its own release, noting:

A higher percentage of Georgia’s 8th graders are scoring at or above basic and proficient levels in reading than ever before, according to results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress released today. Seventy-two (72) percent of 8th graders scored at the basic or above level, compared to 70% in 2007. The national average shows 74% of 8th graders at the basic or above level, but had only a one percent increase from 2007, compared to Georgia’s two percent increase.
released today. Seventy-two (72) percent of 8th graders scored at the basic or above level, compared to 70% in 2007. The national average shows 74% of 8th graders at the basic or above level, but had only a one percent increase from 2007, compared to Georgia’s two percent increase.

“Since day one, my vision has been for Georgia to lead the nation in improving student achievement,” said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. “For us to accomplish this we have to improve at a faster rate than the nation, and our 8th graders are doing that.”

Georgia’s 4th graders saw a slight decrease since 2007 in the percentage of students at basic levels and above, but the percentage of students at or above proficient increased one percentage point while the nation had no increase.

Georgia students in grades 4 and 8 took the NAEP exams in reading last school year. The students who were tested had been taught using the state’s new Reading/English Language Arts curriculum for four years. The NAEP is given to a representative sample of students in every state.  Scores are broken into four categories — below basic, basic, proficient and advanced.

55 comments Add your comment

K Teacher

March 24th, 2010
12:33 pm

As long as parents take no interest in reading with and to their children, reading scores will continue to lag.

Political Spectator

March 24th, 2010
12:50 pm

@K Teacher: There was a time when parents did not teach their children prior to their children entering school. Parents thought it was the school’s job to teach students. They also believed the school could teach their children better than them. Today, it is the general belief that students need to learn at home before coming to school. I do not necessarily agree with that premise.

My belief is parents need to support the school more as the school do its job. My belief is that parents need to send a motivated, hardworking, never give up student to school so that the school can educate the student.


March 24th, 2010
1:16 pm

My own observation is that the more the parents read to their kids when they are young, and the more the kids read outside of school, the better the kid will do in school. I volunteer weekly at my childrens’ elementary school by helping young children with their reading, and I see a tremendous difference between students whose parents read to them at home, and encourage them to read, versus those students with parents who do not do that. I think that, the more that parents want their children to succeed in school, the more they should read to their children, and encourage their children to read on their own as well.

Nature Dude

March 24th, 2010
1:18 pm

There was a time when people read vs. watching tv. Turn off the tv and read to your 3,4, and 5 year olds. I was born in 74, and reading books by 79, but my parents were active in my learning, and I didn’t have 20 kids channels to watch.

Dave Foust

March 24th, 2010
1:24 pm

i read the article twice yet i don’t see the work “fixin” used once whats going on in Georgia???

Dave Foust

March 24th, 2010
1:25 pm

Enter your comments here

@ RobertNAtl

March 24th, 2010
1:46 pm

Robert, You are so right – I bet your own kids are great students!

DeKalb Conservative

March 24th, 2010
1:50 pm

The Latino spotlight was an excellent point. Perhaps we can learn a lesson here. If Georgia trys to assimulate with Latino culture more, perhaps the Latinos can help raise the rest of the students up, white, black, yellow, red, etc.

DeKalb Conservative

March 24th, 2010
1:51 pm

@ Maureen

On the Latino-white gap closing, what are the specifics? Obviously Latinos increased, but did whites stay the same, increase, decrease?

Attentive Parent

March 24th, 2010
1:55 pm

I want to know what Florida is doing with its ELL reading instruction especially. We need to emulate because this story says that their Hispanic students are now outscoring the average Georgia student in reading.

It was a shame to read in the actual NAEP report that Georgia hasn’t shown statistically significant gains in years. Should we send a delegation to Tallahassee?

Maureen Downey

March 24th, 2010
2:13 pm


In fourth grade reading, Georgia Hispanic students scored 208, compared to a national average of 204. (Georgia’s average white score of 229 was same as national average.)

In 8th grade reading, Hispanic students in Georgia scored 254, compared to a national average of 248. (Our white scores were 268, compared to 271 nationally.)

White scores are stagnant or slightly slipping.


March 24th, 2010
2:21 pm

Let’s begin by getting rid of the scripted lessons such as SFA and Direct Instruction. Allow teachers to teach reading.

@Political Spectator, at the time in which you speak, standardized test scores weren’t being used the way they are today. I’m nearly 40 and I was able to pass on the books my parents read to me to my kids. Also, there were fewer discipline problems to prevent the teacher from teaching. Students were reluctant to act out because there were consequences at home. Plus, today we have the ridiculous expectation that ALL students will go to college. It’s most definitely a different world than what you speak of.

The best readers are the ones where parents are reading to their kids. That’s a no-brainer. Parents must take responsibility for their children’s education. I’m not surprised about the Latino gains. I find that many of their parents are quite supportive and want their kids to get an education.


March 24th, 2010
2:22 pm

filter again…


March 24th, 2010
2:45 pm

I think poverty impacts education and Georgia does have a fair amount of people living under the poverty

DeKalb Conservative

March 24th, 2010
3:14 pm

Any idea why white scores would be agnant or slightly slipping? Is this likely a plateau that is a statistical reality, or are there things that can be done to improve this?

Are white scores seen as a benchmark, or something that needs improvement?

old teacher

March 24th, 2010
3:16 pm

Many children are reading some before kindergarten. I even did in the dark ages. But, the best things a parent can do, even in today’s over busy families, are 1. 2. Teach your child to behave and respect adults. 3. Help increase attention spans…years ago a 2nd-3rd grader could pay attention and was expected to and, 4.Support the schools….sometimes even consider that the teacher is probably right. She has no time to spend on faking a behavior issue. They do not throw away papers. Sadly to say..some children lie to stay out of trouble.
Even poor, low IQ kids can learn to be quiet and listen when they are supposed to. Obviously Latino kids are.

Reading Is Fundamental

March 24th, 2010
3:20 pm

Political Spectator – I couldn’t agree with you more because that is precisely my story. Prior to starting school my neighbor served as my babysitter, and I specifically recall watching Sesame Street almost every day, and I am sure I learned a small amt from that. So TV in and of itself is not awful, the content of programming is what makes it terrible for kids.

K Teacher, your comment seems to suggest that the parents of students of other states with higher scores than GA are reading more to their children and that is why they do better. If I had to guess, the parents in other states on average are not reading any more or less than parents in GA read to their kids. As an involved parent, I get a bit irritated when I continually hear from educators how parent need to read to their child, do this, do that, etc… Frankly speaking my wife and I (and many other involved parents we know) feel as if we are practically home-schooling our kids after they come home from school each day AND on the weekends, for that matter. As a result, they do well academically; but if we were to completely halt all of our homeschooling efforts and left it up to the schools, I am certain that their grades would immediately begin hovering around a C average as opposed to the A’s with occasional B’s that they receive now, and none of them are the sort of kids that cause issues in class or who are not attentive and engaged in the classroom. I am not sure if the problem is the teachers or the entire system of public education (though I lean more towards the latter).

It further pains me that everyone talks about preK education and the importance of children starting school ready to learn when the public schools are not truly equipped and ready to receive children who are truly ready to learn. There are many high quality preK programs that exist (my experience has been in Christian preK programs where the Abekka curriculum is used) where by the age of 4, students are already reading fluently and comprehending and have pretty much covered the entire kindergarten GPS. By the time they are ready for public school they are already on an assessed 1st or 2nd grade reading level. Unfortunately in schools I am aware of there is nothing in place to challenge those students when they enter kindergarten!!! And I do not consider the gifted programs or skipping a grade (as a result of socialization concerns) as the answer. Personally speaking, my children are not gifted; they have just been exposed to and taught things at a time in their life that is a bit earlier than some. As a parent it’s as if you’re screwed if you prepare your child, and screwed if you do not. I realize that every child may not start at that level, but why would we not have a “formal” system in place in schools where there is at least one teacher in each grade level that is there to receive kids that happen to be about one year or more ahead of grade level? I specifically say “formal” because many of us realize that there is an informal system in place of getting your child in the “right” (read “qualified”) teacher’s classroom year after year. Although I am aware that this exists, this still pains me because as a parent it simply means that process of insuring our kids receive a good education like having 2 additional full time jobs between my wife and . So for teachers, if you have to wonder why some of the more involved parents give you a hard time from time to time— perhaps it’s because we feel a bit bitter and TIRED because we spend much of our time homeschooling and trying to “work the system” to insure our child can have a shot at being able to compete with their global counterparts! I know that people hate this model, but those children should be grouped together in the same classroom and in my opinion if they are kindergarteners, they should be taught the 1st grade curriculum as opposed to repeating work that they have done 1 or 2 yrs prior!!! That is insane! If we truly embraced the children that start school ahead, and keep them on that trajectory once they enter the public school system, is it not conceivable that we would begin to see higher gains on the NAEP and other standardized test? Also I find it interesting that in some schools (event top performing school in Cobb) you see that grade level scores in some schools seem to trend downward from kindergarten thru to about 4th or 5th grade. Makes me wonder what is going on, or not going on, that a child can start off at a high level in kindergarten and then be average or below average on standardized tests by 2nd or 3rd grade. Some of that could be due to parents with advanced kids getting frustrated and removing their kids from the school—I am not sure.

I am not suggesting from my comments that teachers are the sole issue because I realize there are policies, procedures and methodologies that may dictate much of what teachers have to do in the classroom. The entire system of k-12 public education needs to abandon the bureaucracy, and the one size fits all models. If we can do that successfully in GA, then maybe we will start seeing our NAEP scores increase to the point that we can all proud of our state’s academic ranking.

If the public education system can not right the ship on its own, then choice options (charters, vouchers, hb251 transfers that offer true choice, tax supported scholarship, etc…) need to be significantly expanded so that we can increase the odds that the needs of INDIVIDUAL children will be met.


March 24th, 2010
3:22 pm

Serious, people are poor and uneducated in some parts of Georgia. It’s that simple. It’s cycle and it will never end. Nothing can be done.


March 24th, 2010
3:42 pm

The top achievers, regardless of race, are “slipping” because the focus isn’t on them anymore. NCLB makes the lowest learner the priority. That has been the focus here in Georgia for a while now. No wonder our brightest have stopped making gains.

Dana Roberts

March 24th, 2010
3:45 pm

Most public school systems do not have a separate class for reading, so reading is compressed with LA — this is a mistake. All children from K-8 should have a separate reading class that stands completely only from learning the conventions of grammar.

Parents have to start reading to their children and instead of buying a game, buy a book!

news flash

March 24th, 2010
3:47 pm

Atlanta’s school superintendent, Dr. Beverly L. Hall, is the 2010 recipient of AERA’s Distinguished Public Service Award.

In addition to receiving the award at the Annual Meeting, Dr. Hall will offer a presentation titled “Using Data Every Day, Every Way to Transform Atlanta Public Schools.” Her presentation is scheduled for Sunday, May 2, at 10:35 in the Colorado Convention Center, Korbel Ballroom 1D. Drs. Charles Payne and Lorraine McDonnell will be respondents at this session.


March 24th, 2010
4:05 pm

I will never forget when my daughter started Pre-K and I learned that she was 1 of 3 students that could read, and about 1/2 of the class could not spell their own names! I was told that they had to stick to the curriculum and could not offer her any additional work. At the time, I could not afford private school, so she was just … for lack of a better word…stuck. Needless to say, I got numerous notes because she would finish tracing her letters or what ever other mundane assignment she was given and begin talking to other students and/or singing to herself in class. She also would look at other students papers and tell them they did something wrong and commence to erase their work. Pre-K and Kindergarten were very frustrating times.

Jefferson Jackson

March 24th, 2010
4:36 pm

“K Teacher” hit the nail on the head. Kids won’t read well until parents turn off the TV’s and the GameBoxes and get kids interested in reading. And Chris, you’re wrong. Something can be done; it’s called attacking poverty. Do you think people in the northeast are just smarter than people in the south? Certainly not! They’re just better paid, better schooled, and better fed. It makes a difference.

high school teacher

March 24th, 2010
4:38 pm

Cammi317, Pre-K is not a mandatory class. It is in fact for students who might not be ready for kindergarten otherwise.

Dana, I despise the term “language arts.” I wish we could go back to ~gasp~ teaching in isolation – 6 weeks of grammar, 6 weeks of writing, 6 weeks of reading/literature.

Attentive Parent

March 24th, 2010
4:55 pm

That would be Bill Ayers’ AERA? Great.

It appears it is the high achieving metro high schools that saw a drop in this year’s 10th grade PSAT scores not across the board.

Also many TAG programs seem unwilling to treat the standards as a floor, not a ceiling. Some of the high achieving TAG kids are being asked to do work years below their current academic level.

Just anecdotal but consistent with the highest achievers no longer being able to be challenged before high school.

We may well be closing the achievement gap by slowing down the highest performers. Too bad if being bright is their gift and not sports or a pretty face where no such leveling occurs.

[...] View original here: Georgia's reading scores: No great leaps this year. | Get Schooled [...]


March 24th, 2010
5:32 pm

Want to know why reading is slipping? Because the focus is on remedial and ESL readers. Summer reading lists provided by DeKalb County Schools are lightweight and topically boring. State requirements and the ridiculous Language Arts textbooks utilize excerpts and pop culture rather than challenging content. We’re lucky that my children’s teachers at their middle school looked at the standards, put aside the textbooks, sniffed, and put REAL books and poetry in front of them. That’s the exception, I fear.

Yes, parents should encourage reading – for pleasure. Their school reading should be the challenge – digging into the story, building their vocabulary, making connections with the world past and present, writing about what they read. Would my child pick up Shakespeare rather than Lightening Thief? Probably not. But both have value in building reading skills and a lifelong reading habit. (My kid loved A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream – to his great surprise.)

Thanks to Mrs. Allen, Mrs. Hackett, Ms. Duncan, Mr. Davis, and a continuing series of outstanding Language Arts teachers for proving that reading can be taught with rigor and measurable improvement for even the most advanced readers.

gifted one day a week

March 24th, 2010
5:33 pm

TAG programs do treat the standards as the ceiling. Being gifted one day a week doesn’t keep the academically gifted very motivated. Unfortunately, schools can get more money when they serve gifted with this one day a week model instead of being gifted everyday. Georgia has some strange funding loopholes when it comes to serving our brightest students- and the students are getting the short end of the stick.

Free Market Educator

March 24th, 2010
6:03 pm

Jefferson Jackson said
“Do you think people in the northeast are just smarter than people in the south? Certainly not! They’re just better paid, better schooled, and better fed. It makes a difference.”

These songs are dedicated to the better schooled, richer, fatter people of the northeast:
And my favorite John Kerry speech:


March 24th, 2010
6:40 pm

The elementary school my children attend does have the one-day-a-week TAG class, but they also teach TAG strategies in all classrooms, and in fact have a TAG teacher who specifically trains classroom teachers in TAG strategies. (At least, they do this year, pre-budget cuts. Next year: Who knows?) My school’s approach is that all children can benefit from the strategies used in TAG classes, not just the kids who have tested into TAG. (Don’t ask me the specifics about “TAG strategies”; all I can do is explain the philosophical approach, not the classroom specifics.) Although I am not an education professional, this seems like a sound approach to me.

On the subject of TAG: My girls enjoy their TAG classes and I am a supporter of the program. But in the privacy of my own mind, I have sometimes wondered if there shouldn’t be “DOT” classes in addition to, or instead of, “TAG” classdes (”DOT” being my internal acronym for classes filled with “Disciplined, On-Task” students). In other words, find a way to group the children who consistently exhibit disciplined, on-task behavior in the classroom and let them be in a classroom of other, similar students. I would hazard a guess that “DOT” students would equal the academic performance of TAG students over time. And they would not be slowed down by the disruptive students who tend to disproportionately occupy the time of many classroom teachers.

18 years as a teacher

March 24th, 2010
7:47 pm

No Child Left Behind = No Child Gets Ahead

That said, both of my own children are in the gifted program at their school and they are served one day a week by a gifted teacher. The rest of the week they are not challenged. That’s why the scores of the highest readers are not increasing.

The 1st and 2nd grade report cards in my district were changed in the last couple of years to become more “standards based” and the grades that are given are DNM (does not meet), IP (in progress) or MS (meets standard). Did you notice that there is no category for EXCEEDING the standard? So the children learn early on that they only have to satisfy the minimum expectations.

Attentive Parent

March 24th, 2010
8:14 pm

How many teachers are aware that Kathy Cox has done numerous presentations in state and out of state on using Response to Intervention for Gifted KIds?

Yeah! Sounded good in a speech but it seems to have been just empty rhetoric.

The saddest thing is all the discussions that aren’t occurring for everyone in the classroom because the kids who are ready to move on don’t get a chance.

My God the End of Times is truly near

March 24th, 2010
8:50 pm

Isn’t that like giving Bernie Madoff the Financier of the Year Award?

D Oh E

March 24th, 2010
9:30 pm

We are happy to report that a percentage of the percentage was a percentage more than the percentage of the percentage in the percentile previous to the percentage of the previous percentage.

World class standard bearers are setting the standard for standardizing world class standard bearing.

Gwinnett Parent

March 24th, 2010
9:37 pm

Reading Is Fundamental-Hit the nail on the head. My daughter’s first grade class is covering topics she learned in preschool. Eventhough she has all E’s and is reading 2.5 yrs above level and is doing 3rd grade math, she did not do well enough on the COGAT and must sit in class daydreaming. Her teacher was worried because she daydreams in class, but did not understand how she had such high academics. Because my daughter loves to learn and begs me for enrichment, I am stuck with the job of homeschooling in the afternoon. It would be nice if our children could just be children. However, when a child spends 7 hours at school and does not learn anything new, it is very heartbreaking. Everytime I think it is possible to relax and just depend on the school to educate her and just do whatever the school expects, I am reminded of what a dismal education system we have.


March 24th, 2010
9:55 pm

Cammi317, why in the world would you send a child who could already read to Pre-K?


March 24th, 2010
10:12 pm

What do you guys think the math scores will look like?

L R, Dallas, GA

March 24th, 2010
10:58 pm

While I agree that parents certainly have a degree of responsibility* the bulk of the accountability belongs to the school system and the teaching staff. In 2009 eighth graders in Georgia was lower than those in 32 states/jurisdictions.

Go here – 2009 Results

The board of education should be embarrassed and ashamed.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ann Duffy. Ann Duffy said: RT @AJCGetSchooled: Georgia’s reading scores: No great leaps this year. But closing the gap for Latino students #gaed [...]


March 25th, 2010
9:06 am

I am always asking why we don’t stratify classes according to ability and or behavior. There are so many bright kids of all races/classes who want to learn; NCLB only ensures that the teachers cater to the 2-3 stragglers/behavior problems in a class. I do a bit of homeschooling, too, just to keep my kids stimulated. I wish NCLB or whatever education reform we have will include incentives for educators to produce students who exceed standards.


March 25th, 2010
10:03 am

Free market educator rather be fatter then dumb as a brick.

Cyndy Tolbert

March 25th, 2010
10:56 am

While reading instruction and support is ideally a collaborative effort between parents and teachers, it is the primary responsibility of the formal education system to provide students with sufficient and effective reading instruction. It is a misconception that reading classes in post-elementary settings are unnecessary. Middle school students need reading instruction. Reading is addressed in a segement of the English Language Arts standards for middle school; however very few school systems in the state devote separate and specific class time for reading instruction. Reading classes in most schools are designed to address the needs of a small population, the students who demonstrate below grade-level reading abilities. While these students, no doubt, need reading remediation, the entire middle school populations across the state could benefit greatly from daily classes designed to facilitate the advancement of reading. The standards dictate the necessity for reading across curriculums; however very few science, social studies, math, and language arts teachers ever set aside time in their instructional calendars for reading instruction. In addition, a vast majority of middle school teachers in this state are not adequately trained to effectivly teach reading. It is sadly ironic that a critical skill on which the foundation of education is based is all but abandoned after 5th grade in a vast majority of school systems in this state. I strongly believe that reading scores and reading aptitudes throughout Georgia will increase when reading instruction once again becomes a focus in the middle school, and even high school, curriculum.

high school teacher

March 25th, 2010
11:11 am

oldschooldoc, I would love to have classes grouped by ability, but according to the “experts,” that’s a detriment to education.


March 25th, 2010
12:16 pm

@D Oh E : Thanks- I needed that chuckle!! :)


March 25th, 2010
12:26 pm

How strange. My 7th grader is in advanced reading. I don’t know what the heck she’s teaching…but all my child’s reading that I see is done under parental supervision…she has no minimum amount of pages, books, or anything-they read some “stuff” in class and are supposed to read 15 minutes a day(of something, anything, but no assigned readings)at home…can you believe that?? 15 minutes! I have to pull a book out of her hand and turn the lights off at night to get her to stop reading. I taught all my kids to read before kindergarten after finding that my nephew made it to 3rd grade still unable to read- and his mother is a teacher! Somebody is clearly missing something somewhere! Parents and teachers NEED to get their acts together and figure this out!

Attentive Parent

March 25th, 2010
12:47 pm


A student with a rich oral vocabulary from home who is taught to read phonetically is ready to read anything in print by second grade. They do not need years of reading lessons. They are ready to move on and learn from books.

The fact that they are not being allowed to because so many schools primarily use whole language techniques and call it Balanced Literacy or Guided Reading has the tragic consequences in Georgia showing up in NAEP.

No late elementary or middle school student should have to look to context to figure out the word. It can help with the meaning but they should know enough about phonemes and their letter symbols to know how to pronounce.

I believe that reading instruction is needed in too many Ga middle and high schools but it should not be necessary. It is a result of inadequate or faulty previous instruction and not the natural order of things.


March 25th, 2010
2:29 pm

Wow! Aren’t we all proud!! Keep drinking the Kool-aid folks! Yes, our public schools are doing just great! Teaching does start at home, however, why are we passing students to the next grade level if they aren’t at least reading on grade level. OH, that’s right NCLB. It might hurt their self-esteem and mommy and daddy might get mad.


March 25th, 2010
2:36 pm

Maureen, please give us the true results for middle school Ga math students. I would also like the results for the PSAT for this years 10th graders public school only. Most private schools aren’t using the new Ga math. That is one of the main reasons parents are sending the 9th group there this year!

balanced literacy aka whole language

March 25th, 2010
6:34 pm

Wow, attentive parent. You are attentive. Most teachers also feel that reading is not best taught through “balanced literacy”, but our hands are tied. Someone is always in our room with a checklist making sure we implement this joke. If we express a concern for our children, it is brushed off as teachers resisting change.


March 25th, 2010
7:09 pm

To Attentive Parent:
just wondering where you get your information on Balanced Literacy.

My school uses a Balanced Literacy Framework – it is nothing like whole language. It includes phonics, grammar, small group reading with flexible groups, whole group reading (adding Reader’s Workshop at the upper elementary grades), writing, and grammar. We also include the listening, speaking, viewing, and presenting standards. While our school did not take the NAEP exam this year, our students are showing great progress on the ITBS and CRCT. By the way, we are a Title I school, 96% FRL, 90% minority, and 60% ESOL.

“No late elementary or middle school student should have to look to context to figure out the word” Say what? context clues are used to determine meaning, not pronunciation. Of course upper elementary and middle school students should use context clues to figure out a word! And if you know as much as you say you do, you would also know that knowing all the phonemes and letter symbols will still not help pronounce some words. Using context clues to determine meaning is a reading strategy that should be taught to all students.

I agree that students who come to school with a rich vocabulary are better readers – but ready to read anything in print? really? good students don’t need reading instruction after second grade? I would love to know your source for that one. Twenty years in schools, a reading specialist degree, and a PhD in curriculum and instruction from a major research institution and I have to disagree.