2020: Experts Say Widely Used Reading Curriculum is Failing Kids

Most Americans have likely never heard of Lucy Calkins, but their children’s teachers probably have. Calkins, a professor of education at Columbia University, has created one of the nation’s most widely used reading instruction programs, and, according to a groundbreaking new report, the program is deeply flawed.

Calkins’ Units of Study series, which thousands of American teachers are using to teach children to read, “would be unlikely to lead to literacy success for all of America’s public schoolchildren,” the report concluded. “Children who arrive at school already reading or primed to read … may integrate seamlessly into the routines of the Units of Study model and maintain a successful reading trajectory. However, children who need additional practice opportunities in a specific area of reading or language development likely would not.”

The report was released by the nonprofit educational consulting group Student Achievement Partners (SAP). The group asked prominent reading researchers to review Calkins’ Units of Study, more commonly known as “reading workshop.” It appears to be the first time a group of reading researchers has reviewed a curriculum and determined whether the lessons reflect more than 40 years of scientific research on how reading skill develops.

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