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Boosting Adolescent Reading Achievement

March 24, 2010

In a recent Kappan article, literacy professors Catherine Snow and Elizabeth Moje discuss and dispel  the “inoculation fallacy” – the idea that getting students to proficiency early in their school careers will prevent failure later on. Conventional wisdom has been that reading instruction is finished at 3rd grade.  In later elementary and secondary grades emphasis is on  content-area reading comprehension   It was assumed that students who read well in early elementary would be successful without additional reading instruction. “The need for literacy instruction does not end with the 3rd grade,” they say, “or even in high school.”

For the last several years, Saline Area Schools has used the Reading Apprenticeship program to support the ongoing literacy instruction in regular academic classes.  This effort has been led and facilitated by Ms. Laurie Erby and Ms. Jennifer Nelson.  We now have staff trained in the Reading Apprenticeship model from 5th grade through 12th grade and it has been growing each year.  The article reinforced that we are addressing a critical need for our students here in Saline.

The authors of the article stated, “Intervening to help struggling readers gets harder with each passing grade, but it is not impossible, even for young adults.” I found it interesting that they also urge teachers to understand and tap into the “impressive literacy skills” that many low-achieving students display outside of school – for example, when exploring websites and reading “fan fiction.”

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