Frequently Changing Reading Programs Leaving No Time for True Measures of OutcomeAs a teacher in a public school system I have been amazed how each year Iave been taught a new method to teach...

Frequently Changing Reading Programs Leaving No Time for True Measures of Outcome

As a teacher in a public school system I have been amazed how each year Iave been taught a new method to teach reading to students.  In this age of stress on passing the EOGs in order to meet No Child Left Behinds expectations, I have seen schools grasping for the magic bullet when it comes to reading programs.  Each reading program that I have learned to use has taught me some very good things.  However, I am concerned a period of one year is not enough time to determine if the program is actually working.  In some cases the programs have only been in place six months before a new program is hailed as being "the one" to increase our students reading abilities.

Asked on by mkcapen1

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kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I wait with bated breath every time a 'new' piece of research comes out which we have to foist on the teachers and the students. I was a guinea pig child for the ITA project in the seventies, which utilised a phonetic alphabet. Thankfully I learnt to read, in spite of what I was taught in school, from two devoted parents who used praise, patience and encouragement. For those who also experienced this approach, school was a baffling time and the 'experiment' was dropped. Why do we not have controls on the number and frequency of 'new' teaching ideas? As others have commented, education makes too popular a platform for change - even when it is not needed.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Completely agree with this - and unfortunately on the other side of "the pond" I don't really think it is much better here in the UK. Every new government or Education Secretary seems to want to make his or her mark which results in massive upheaval and instability. It is really interesting as some directors of schools etc will deliberately leave of planning and preparation while they wait to see who will win an election and be given the poisoned chalice of education, as there is no point working towards something that is likely to change. What a sad way to treat education!

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree with the previous posts--you simply cannot effectively implement a new program of any kind in a year.  We do the same thing at the high school level with planning and grading programs.  I cannot even begin to imagine the expense that goes into buying the rights to and materials for the new programs.

On a more positive note, one method that has worked for me is by doing personal research and practice and implementing that myself in the classroom.  I'm not sure what your administration is like, but normally mine does not mind if I tailor a new program to work with proven methods in my classroom.

booksnmore's profile pic

booksnmore | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Teacher training is also huge. Administrators cannot expect new programs to be successful unless teachers have the opportunity to be trained in the new methods. All too often it's assumed that giving teachers new books/curriculum/materials/resources will solve problems. Yet we hand them the books and close the door behind them. And if programs are changing yearly (or every six months!) it's pretty difficult to keep up with teacher training. No one has that much time or money.

lrwilliams's profile pic

lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I have been involved in  districts where we look for new ways to teach reading seemingly on a yearly basis. I think that any of the researched based interventions will work when implemented with fidelity. My experience has been that this is the down fall of new programs, teachers fail to implement them appropriately, administrators don't see the desired results so they look for a different program. Fidelity is probably the hardest thing to monitor with interventions as a lot of teachers do their "own thing" once the classroom door is shut.

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

Mkcapen1 makes an excellent point--researched based interventions. In Missouri we use the term best practices. It seems to me that researched based best practices will not vary so widely that a new program would be implemented every 6 months or so.

Also, Frank Smith has a wonderful book entitled The Book of Learning and Forgetting, and he makes some wonderful observations. I think it should be a must read for any teacher.

booksnmore's profile pic

booksnmore | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

That's really tough! I'm not sure how well a new program can even be implemented in six months, let alone have time to produce true measures of outcome. It would seem to me that most teachers would need at least six months to familiarize themselves with a program enough to present it with integrity. When I do teacher trainings with a new curriculum, I often follow the same group of teachers for a year as they begin implementation. While we look at scores from the first year, we always have to take into account that the program was new to the teachers and the students. That "newness" could certainly affect outcomes. Who is pushing for the constant turnover in programs?

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lisansophie | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Frequently Changing Reading Programs Leaving No Time for True Measures of Outcome

As a teacher in a public school system I have been amazed how each year Iave been taught a new method to teach reading to students.  In this age of stress on passing the EOGs in order to meet No Child Left Behinds expectations, I have seen schools grasping for the magic bullet when it comes to reading programs.  Each reading program that I have learned to use has taught me some very good things.  However, I am concerned a period of one year is not enough time to determine if the program is actually working.  In some cases the programs have only been in place six months before a new program is hailed as being "the one" to increase our students reading abilities.

That certainly can be a frustrating situation.  6 months to one year are not enough time to evaluate a program.  I do feel however that is important to keep abreast of new teaching strategies to enhance a reading program.  Research based programs are wonderful but new research is coming forward all of the time. 

jmtgr1's profile pic

jmtgr1 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted on

That's really a tough situation to be in. I also teach reading, but practically, I teach them how to read better with not so much emphasis on any test in particular and with an addtional focus on vocabulary and writing.

Our kids come to us without any knowledge of the abc's; 123... or what a real book looks like. We start from ground zero and up....jm

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

That's really a tough situation to be in. I also teach reading, but practically, I teach them how to read better with not so much emphasis on any test in particular and with an addtional focus on vocabulary and writing.

jmtgr1's profile pic

jmtgr1 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted on

What I find amazing is how long we keep a reading series. We constantly change every three to five years, confuse our students and our teachers, and then fear sets in when the Board of Education is going to do a "Walk Through" to see if we are on task! Hellooooo....when a teacher has to look to make sure he/she is reading and teaching the correct task for a certain day, or for that matter look up the answer to a question before he/she asks a student, to make sure she/he has the right answer, we already have a problem.......need I say more? YES I DO! We start the students out with DIBELS so they can read with speeeeeddd....ha... then by the time we get them in the 4th grade we have to sloooowww them down so they can be able to comprehend what they have read! What ever happened to reading and then answering the questions? I rest my case....jm

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I have not found it to be written in stone in my field if I alter the program, but if it is a program that the Local Education Agency is following closely, then we can not change it.  Usually, I am able to take something away from each program and tie them together.  However, I really would like to see slower changes in the reading programs or control groups established.  Since I each science as well as language arts, I have to teach the students about variables.  I would like to really be able to determine my own research base on the programs so that I know which one works best. 

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The principals and heads over our curriculum spend a lot of time searching for research based interventions that will benefit the students.  I believe they are on the right track, but I would like to see less variables and more focus on one type of intervention.  With so many types of interventions occurring it is difficult to determine which has program been the most effective, what students it has helped and why, and how it can be tweaked to promote further success.

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