Can common ground be found on teaching reading in California?

Credit: Allison Shelley for American Education

An elementary student reads a book to himself during class.

People that have been perceived as being in opposite corners over how to teach reading in California released a joint paper Thursday agreeing that foundational reading skills like phonics, vocabulary and comprehension should be taught explicitly and systematically to all students.

And children who are learning English as a second language, who make up 1 in 4 first graders in California, also need lessons to practice speaking and listening in English, and to make connections with other languages they know.

In addition, they agreed that all children should be screened early to identify both needs and strengths in reading, taking into  account students’ level of English language proficiency and the language in which they have been taught. They agreed that such screeners, while identifying children who may face difficulty learning how to read, should not be used to diagnose dyslexia or other reading disabilities or to segregate students into separate classrooms as special education students.

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