State School Board Members Speak on Avon on ‘The Science of Reading’
Education trends come and go. The “science of reading” may go on for a while.
Joyce Rankin, a member of the Colorado Board of Education, was in Avon on Friday to give a presentation to a small group at the Avon Public Library about the ideas behind the science of reading.
Rankin is a Carbondale Republican and this year represents the 3rd congressional district, which includes a small portion of Eagle County. She was invited to Avon by Rep. Matt Solomon, a Republican who is running for Senate for Colorado’s 8th district this year.
Rankin, who has a long career in elementary education, gave the group a quick look at the history of the ideas behind the science of reading and an overview of what’s happening in elementary schools across the state.
Rankin said The Science of Reading is a research- and evidence-based method for getting young students to read above grade level.
The state initiated this idea in a reading to secure the Academic Development Act of 2012.
Rankin said the bill gave school districts funding to establish their own programs, but nothing about the accountability part. The bill has amended that part.
By law, all educators teaching grades kindergarten through third grade must take at least 45 hours of instruction in the science of reading.
The Colorado Department of Education provides the training for free, and Rankin said some school districts pay teachers for the time they spend training.
Rankin says there is no single provider of reading training science.But she added a program called “LETRS” It is the “gold standard” in this field.
Teachers had until August 1st to upload proof of completion of the training. Bob Rankin, who attended the session, said about 17,000 of the state’s nearly 20,000 early grade teachers meet that requirement.
Joyce Rankin acknowledged that teaching children to read scientifically is difficult, requiring 90 minutes of training a day.
“We are constantly evaluating how each student is learning (or not learning),” says Rankin. “It’s not easy and it takes time, but the more you do it, the better you get at it.
The system can include children reading to each other, and there are other, more fun exercises.
“You’ll see a lot of change if it’s used,” Rankin said.
She noted that one of the state’s smaller districts implemented the program shortly after the READ Act was passed. Their students’ reading scores rose in all grades, including kindergarten.
Rankin said state officials are using the program as an example of how the system works because the school district has a steady student population.
Audience member Addison Hobbs asked Rankin about students who speak languages other than English.
Rankin replied that most scientific reading work is done in English. This means that students “have to work hard” to catch up.
Bob Rankin said the 2019 bill has support from nearly every political segment in the state.
The science of reading, says Solomon, “is an example of how everything works if we put the box aside…there’s something the rest of us can learn here.”