- Susan Pimentel, co-founder of StandardsWork, has three “research-based practices,” that she believes should be implemented in elementary schools, she wrote on the Thomas B. Fordham Institute site.
- To start, students should be encouraged to read material that challenges them. Additionally, educators could expose students to more social studies and science topics as a way to deepen their knowledge and add context to what they read.
- Finally, Pimentel, who was the lead author of the Common Core State Standards for English language arts, wrote that schools should be encouraged to beef up their curriculum, so that they are “…tailor-built to both state standards and the latest research.”
Rote memorization is a skill that can help students with their education, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to deeper learning. And reading to glean information to plug into standardized tests doesn’t help students make connections. Reading and writing that’s woven into the curriculum can be a better way to use literacy skills in an engaging way.
Curriculum designers who want to help boost literacy may want to do what Chemawa Middle School in Riverside, California, did when they seeded writing instruction across the full curriculum. While writing and reading fold easily in social studies and English language arts classes, all courses have some literacy requirements — including science and mathematics.
To that end, administrators may want to develop a schoolwide literacy action plan, along with professional development for teachers so they feel supported and engaged as well, experts say. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development notes that schools “…need to obtain broad buy-in to the plan — it should not be developed by a small group of people and kept secret." Otherwise, “students will not receive equal access to quality reading and writing instruction and regular guided practice in content-area reading and writing.”