‘It can teach all children to read’: Md. State Superintendent of Schools on new literacy approach

By 2027, Maryland’s State Board of Education wants to see the state’s students’ reading scores go up.

The goal is to make the reading scores on the National Association of Educational Progress — sometimes referred to as “the nation’s report card” — go from near the bottom to within the country’s top 10.

Carey Wright, the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, is bullish on the “science of reading” approach outlined in the draft.

“It’s a very strategic way of teaching children to read,” Wright said in an interview with WTOP. “It has decades of research behind it that proves that it works, and it can teach all children to read,” she added.

Currently, Maryland’s Department of Education is asking teachers, parents, staff and students to weigh in on its draft policy for reading instruction. From now through July 19, the online survey will be open for comments.

The science of reading approach is often referred to as a return to teaching “phonics” in state classrooms, but Wright said it’s much more than phonics.

While phonics — understanding the relationship between letters and sounds — is part of the science of reading method, Wright said the science of reading also includes vocabulary-building, comprehension and fluency, meaning the ability to read smoothly and accurately.

The state’s draft policy also includes a call for screening for “reading deficiencies” among children from kindergarten through 3rd grade. That includes screenings for dyslexia, for example.

Wright said, “It’s a good way to rule something out, if you will, at an early age,” rather than to wait until a child is older “only to find out that they really needed this special help all along.”

The state’s “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” a multibillion dollar education reform plan, requires the state and county school districts to maintain funding levels that match state education goals.

Wright told WTOP that plan includes making sure that teachers entering the field, and even seasoned educators, get high-quality training in literacy.

“We’ve got to be figuring out” how to support new teachers and classroom veterans alike with mentoring, induction programs and a variety of other supports, she said.

Along with improving student reading scores in the early grades, Wright said the state is examining math instruction. That will be discussed at the next State Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, July 23.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up