Reading instruction is finally catching up to research

Increasing numbers of state legislatures are mandating that a phonics-based approach be used to teach young children how to read.  Not all states are on board yet, despite a massive study more than 20 years ago that culled research and concluded that teaching children phonemes (the sounds associated with letters) and phonics (assembling letters into words) is the most successful way to teach reading.

Three children with signs around their necks that read: Meniruze words, Phonics, Whole Language

Beginning in 2014 in Mississippi, states have forced teacher training programs, school districts and public school teachers to switch to a phonics-based approach to teaching reading.  Here are states* which have passed legislation mandating a phonics-based approach or strengthening laws already mandating such an approach.

  • 2013: Mississippi
  • 2014: South Carolina
  • 2015: Nevada
  • 2016: Michigan, Mississippi
  • 2017: Arkansas
  • 2018: Montana, Nebraska
  • 2019: Alabama, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, West Virginia
  • 2020: DC
  • 2021: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas
  • 2022: Arkansas, Arizona, Kentucky, Utah, Virginia

As you can see, the number of states passing laws to require phonics-based reading instruction has steadily increased with the greatest increase in 2021.  Educators surmise that because students were home for months in 2020 because of the Covid 19 virus, parents became more aware of how their children were being taught to read.  As a result, they demanded change.

While not all states have updated their education laws concerning the teaching of reading, the trajectory is in that direction.  Expect improved reading scores on national tests as students being taught using this approach infiltrate into higher grades.  Mississippi has already noted this positive change.

*according to Education Week

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