Nonfiction Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills, Study Finds
Another area I want to learn more about is the importance of curriculum. This is a VERY important study with impressive results in NYC (for more on this, see: http://www.coreknowledge.org/ck-nyc-pilot-results):
Children in New York City who learned to read using an experimental curriculum that emphasized nonfiction texts outperformed those at other schools that used methods that have been encouraged since the Bloomberg administration's early days, according to a new study to be released Monday.
For three years, a pilot program tracked the reading ability of approximately 1,000 students at 20 New York City schools, following them from kindergarten through second grade. Half of the schools adopted a curriculum designed by the education theorist E. D. Hirsch Jr.'s Core Knowledge Foundation. The other 10 used a variety of methods, but most fell under the definition of "balanced literacy," an approach that was spread citywide by former Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, beginning in 2003.
The study found that second graders who were taught to read using the Core Knowledge program scored significantly higher on reading comprehension tests than did those in the comparison schools.
It also tested children on their social studies and science knowledge, and again found that the Core Knowledge pupils came out ahead. Citywide, budget cuts and the drive to increase scores on the state reading and math exams have led many elementary and middle schools to whittle down their social studies and science instruction.
"This data shows a promising option for principals to consider," said Josh Thomases, the deputy chief academic officer for the city's Education Department.
He said the new curriculum could be useful in helping achieve the new learning targets, known as the Common Core, that New York and most other states have adopted. "As we align curricula and materials with the new Common Core Standards, we look forward to working with this group and others toward a higher standard," he said.
The pilot program and study were started in the 2008-9 school year by Mr. Klein, who worried that students suffered from what he called a "knowledge deficit." The study was conducted by the Education Department and paid for with $2.4 million in private donations raised by the Fund for Public Schools, a charity that supports department initiatives.