Ask a teacher

| 23 Feb 2012 | 12:41

    According to state test results, 62 percent of last year’s third graders failed the state reading test. The failure rate was over 50 percent for the two years before that.At Apshawa, 45 percent of the kids failed.

    Not one kid was advanced. The problem was mostly “reading comprehension.”Usually, a child has trouble with this because his/her reading isn’t automatic.The child is using too much of his brain to try to figure out the words; he/she can’t work on understanding what he read.

    Reading should be automatic by second grade. This test was taken at the end of third grade.

    What is the solution?Phonics. The reading program we're using has less phonics than most. Children are taught not to break up the word. Instead, they try get clues about the word from thepicture or the surrounding text. They are trying to memorize all words.

    The kids at Marshall Hill are very similar to the kids at Upper Greenwood Lake, yet the Marshall Hill kids didn’t fail as badly. 35 percent of these third graders failed the state test. That’s not great, but it’s better than 62 percent.

    Why are some of our other schools doing better?

    Parents report that some teachers are secretly adding phonics to their lessons.Good for them, but all our children deserve phonics.It's time for our school district to switch to a phonics-based reading program. Don't take my word for it.Ask a teacher.

    These views are my own and don't represent those of the West Milford school board as a whole.I wish they did, but they don't.

    Barbara Carter Hewitt