The National Assessment of Educational Progress results — which showed a 3-point drop in fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores since 2019 — may feel discouraging to educators, but they were not significantly different from those recorded in 1992, the first year NAEP issued the details, and they were somewhat predictable. It was, after all, the first Nation’s Report Card since COVID-19 led to widespread school closures. During school closures, students simply didn’t have access to consistent, in-person instruction with a teacher trained in the most effective techniques for teaching literacy, such as the science of reading. Compounding the problem, many schools were not providing the most effective reading instruction before the pandemic or even today, when it’s most critical.
The good news is that we do know the most effective methods for teaching reading — and right now is a great opportunity to put them into practice.