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Parents say new reading instruction needed after test scores remain low

Parents are calling for a change in the way reading is taught in schools as reading proficiency scores remain low across New York State, particularly among dyslexic and economically disadvantaged students.

Tina Carney, whose son Brennan has dyslexia, noticed her son’s reading was falling behind when he was 9. However, educators advised her to wait for him to catch up. It wasn’t until Carney began tutoring her son from home during the COVID-19 pandemic that she realized the instruction he was receiving in school was inadequate. Carney found that the approach used in Brennan’s classes, “balanced literacy,” which emphasizes learning words through context and images by reading grade-level storybooks, did not prioritize sounding out new words.

Now, Carney is advocating for a science-based approach to reading instruction that focuses on training teachers on the cognitive science behind learning how to read.

According to Tarja Parssinen, founder of the WNY Education Alliance, data collected by the alliance reveals that dyslexic and economically disadvantaged students who don’t have access to tutoring or assistance from a parent consistently score low on reading assessments.

Parssinen explains that some educators and administrators view the push for a new approach to reading instruction as a “pendulum swing” or a fad, but she stresses that the science behind the new approach has been there all along.