Rep. Bojanowski’s comments, relating to truly serious reading teaching problems in Kentucky, were made in relation to the need to re-educate Kentucky teachers about what scholarly research shows what works best to teach reading.
As the results of the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Grade 4 Reading Assessment dramatically show, reading education in the Commonwealwealth of Wealth is in a bit of a mess right now:
Statewide, only 31% of fourth graders in Kentucky tested Adequate or above on the NAEP reading — less than one in three students. Among black fourth-graders in Kentucky, only 15% achieved the NAEP mark for reading proficiency.
Even more shocking is that 38% of the state’s fourth graders tested Below Basic for NAEP Grade 4 Reading, meaning more than one in three Kentucky Grade 4 students does not have even a partial proficiency in reading. Among the state’s black students, a truly shocking 58% were tested at this lowest NAEP proficiency level.
Given that the 4th grade and up curriculum is based on the assumption that students can read to learn, attracting so many essentially weak to non-readers in 4th grade is a major problem to have.
There are efforts to change this cruel picture. Currently, Kentucky’s new Reading Academies for teachers are conducting professional learning about what is scientifically the best way to teach reading. The Reading Academies use the same Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) program that has been particularly successful in Mississippi.
But many problems remain. In the first “Phase 1” of reading academies, which are currently voluntary for teachers, fewer than 2,000 teachers have enrolled, although 2,400 places have been funded. Around 20,000 teachers appear to need such training, so the remaining unmet need is truly significant. Rep. Bojanowski fully understands this.
Additionally, Rep. Bojanowski is a working teacher in the Jefferson County Public School District. Their demand for mandatory further training in reading classes should therefore be particularly emphasized. It looks like one eminent education insider doesn’t think just enrolling in reading academies voluntarily will get the job done.
So it looks like poor reading performance could be an ongoing problem when the Kentucky Legislature reconvenes in 2023.
Technical Notes: Data from the NAEP comes from the NAEP Data Explorer.
The Courier Journal reading panel can be viewed online here.
Rep. Bojanowski’s comments begin at 21 minutes and 50 seconds into the video.
The Courier-Journal’s 5-part series “Between the Lines” on Kentucky’s reading problems is also worth checking out.