January 2, 2009

Simply put, there’s no perfect method or commercial program for teaching struggling readers how to read. Every method or program has flaws. As Richard Allington, past President of the International Reading Association, has noted, no program is complete, no program is a...

November 2, 2008

In a previous column, I discussed whether to pass struggling readers who work hard to succeed, but fail their tests. This group gets far more sympathy from teachers than struggling readers who appear unmotivated to learn.

For struggling readers who fail—despite working...

September 1, 2008

Several months ago, The New York Times published a blog by Will Okun, a Chicago high-school teacher who was worried about Etta, a conscientious, enthusiastic, hard working student whom he might have to fail. His blog was touching, perceptive, and troubling. It dealt wi...

April 2, 2008

It’s tough, frustrating, and demoralizing to have moderate-to-severe reading difficulties. Unless people have experienced the struggle, they cannot truly understand its social and emotional ramifications. Unlike stuttering or cerebral palsy, it's invisible. Consequentl...

March 2, 2008


Sixth grade students rated grade retention as the single most stressful life event, higher than both the loss of a parent and going blind (Jimerson & Kaufman, 2003, p. 627)


Teachers often debate whether to retain children who struggle with reading.

Those who support re...

January 1, 2008

Liam struggles with reading. He's far below grade level. In class, he won't attend to anything. He fidgets, he makes lots of noise, he disrupts everyone. He rarely opens his books. When he does, he doesn't look at what we're reading. He complains incessantly: "I hate r...

October 1, 2007

Teachers often complain that reading and learning evaluations provide them with little new information. Often, they comment: "I knew this all along. These scores don't help me choose the right materials or design instruction. What a waste of time and energy. Now what d...

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