Raleigh, North Carolina — North Carolina spent more than $50 million on K-12 schools to rethink how teachers help children learn to read and write. Education leaders hope a new phonics-heavy approach can reverse years of decline in reading comprehension.
But an important part of the K-12 effort is state colleges and universities preparing these educators to teach reading. What most of them are doing so far hasn’t been good enough, according to a new report.
State colleges of education will spend the next few months addressing the recommendations of reviewers who found few fully integrated North Carolina’s new reading requirements.
This effort is one of many over the next few years to overhaul how North Carolina public school children learn to read, with most efforts focused on the K-12 level. . A recent report filed with the University of North Carolina System Board of Trustees found that the only effort required at the college level is off to a rocky start for some universities.
Director Randall C. Ramsey said at a January meeting that children can succeed only when teachers have the best strategies and practices to help them. The report found that some of its preparations were lacking.
“We will not tolerate it any more,” he said.
“Frankly, this number should scare and horrify everyone in this room,” Ramsey said at the conference.
Universities do not select the curriculum for K-12 schools or play a policy-making role in state K-12 schools. But the university, as the state’s trainer of future teachers, plays an important role in preparing future educators to help children learn to read.
Wendy Floyd Murphy, vice chair of the board, said the board spends a good deal of time discussing building renovations, salaries, fees and parking. He said he also faces concerns about ensuring that
Most fourth graders do not read well and “few spend adequate time on this topic that affects so many people.”
Changes in reading instruction
In 2021, the North Carolina legislature passed a reform bill that would move the state to a more phonics-based approach.
Lawmakers then allocated more than $50 million in federal pandemic stimulus to train state pre-kindergarten on the new approach through fifth-grade teachers, other teachers, and some administrators. They also provided funding to hire 123 literacy coaches statewide, many of whom are still employed, to help school districts implement phonics-based programs. Schools must develop a program-aligned curriculum and instructional plan by the 2024-25 school year.
Legislators further called on state teachers’ colleges to ensure coursework is consistent with a phonics-based approach by the fall 2022 semester. It does not include funding, staff or other initiatives to make it happen.
Therefore, the UNC system secured private funding to provide the same training to a small number of faculty members in each university’s faculty of education.
Additionally, faculty using the system collaborated on a common idea framework to help the school implement change.
What the report found
After developing the framework, TPI-US reviewed 73 courses across 15 UNC system colleges just prior to the Fall 2022 semester.
Reviewers say only 6 out of 15 colleges consistently practice the new reading approach in all or most courses. The remaining nine, they wrote, need “substantial course content and/or improvement in faculty instruction.”
Poorly rated schools often did not incorporate all elements of reading science into all applicable courses and did not have a consistent approach in each class. Also, reading comprehension was not taught to meet the needs of more diverse learners. such as those with dyslexia.
The reviewers urged schools to adopt a framework for teaching reading and writing that incorporates the science of reading into all relevant courses.
Only one school, East Carolina University, North Carolina’s largest college of education, was rated “inappropriate.”
At ECU, the mandatory introductory reading instruction course is designed to teach children another way to read, rejecting the science of reading.
The university, which independently enrolls about 3,000 teaching students, declined to be interviewed by WRAL News upon request. University spokeswoman Janine Manning Hutson said in an email that the state of East Carolina “welcomes” the report as an opportunity to align its courses and programs with the resolution and the 2021 law.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, with more than 1,500 teaching students, was the only one rated “strong.” Good ratings were given to North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina Wilmington, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Fayetteville State University, and North Carolina A&T State University. Together, these schools will enroll approximately 3,700 primary school students during the 2020-21 school year.
The remaining schools (those in need of improvement) enrolled about 6,700 primary school students in the 2020-21 school year.
TPI-US also surveyed 15 private universities with educational programs, enrolled a relatively small number of students, and judged only 3 of them to be ‘good’ or ‘strong’, while the remaining 12 I found that the school needed improvement.
Over the past year, faculty at the UNC System College have been “self-studying” reading instruction programs, according to Jill Griffenhagen, associate professor of literacy education at North Carolina State University. North Carolina State University scored highly on the report, but Griffenhagen said the university is looking at the latest research to see if its curriculum includes everything it needs. That’s it.
“Obviously we have a sense of urgency,” Griffenhagen said.
That drift can easily happen over time, but preventing that drift is something universities and researchers can do, she said.
Specifically, North Carolina State University has been practicing a phonics-based reading approach for years.
That’s also why UNC-Charlotte achieved a “strong” score, Dean Malcolm B. Butler told WRAL News. The faculty has been reassessing for some time, he said, and is moving towards what the research shows.
Erin Horne, associate dean of professional education at North Carolina State University, says survey and test score data show that North Carolina State graduates feel prepared to teach, and that reading instruction is relatively easy. says it’s going well.
TPI-US researchers suggested that colleges in the UNC system take a more unified approach to education, regardless of college or teacher grade. This includes using common terminology and defining concepts in the same way.
The researchers wrote that schools need to revise their course syllabuses and materials and make sure they use resources that connect what they know with what they teach. I suggested learning from a teacher who teaches reading and writing.
Researchers have found that students in education need more instruction on the relationship between writing and reading to help guide their writing.
Schools need to make sure faculty members have a better grounding in phonics-based approaches, write the researchers. Many schools now teach phonics, but do so under the umbrella of ‘Balanced Literacy’. This can mean many things, but often indicates a reading program that uses a “queuing” method of learning words and does not involve writing. I can’t explain the difficulty of spelling when choosing children’s literature, letting children learn to read on their own.
At UNC-Charlotte, too, Butler expects more changes.
The university’s writing instruction for students with disabilities has outdone critics, he said.