Remote Learning Has Made Kids Reading Difficulties Worse


One study found that early reading skills, which are essential for children attending the most disadvantaged schools, have fallen to a 20-year low. This is not surprising, considering that most public schools canceled kindergarten in 2020.

These children are now woefully unprepared for school.

According to The New York Times, 60% of Boston’s high-poverty students have been identified as being at high risk of reading problems. This is twice the number of children at high risk prior to the pandemic.

The pandemic has not only highlighted the problem of American schools’ inability to read, but it also revealed the extent of the crisis. When I was in my first grade sixty-two year ago, reading was simply a matter learning grammar and phonics. Although there were some exceptions to these rules (e.g. “I” before “E”, except after “C”, was part of the drill), reading was, for the most part a matter of cognitive learning. Reading skills were developed using logic and memory.

Children don’t learn phonics the same way they used to. Public school districts all over the country are looking for teachers who can teach their children the basics of grammar and phonics.

The pandemic did not cause the literacy crisis. Results from 2019 national and international exams revealed that reading performance in America was declining or stagnant, with widening gaps between the high and low performers. Experts believe there are many causes, but experts agree that the problem is caused by a lack of teachers who have been trained in phonemic awareness and phonics — the skills necessary to link the sounds of spoken English with the letters on the page.

These problems have been made worse by the pandemic.

Why haven’t children been taught how to “sound out words” or the basics of phonics? This is because in the 1990s, there was a new way to teach children how to read.

APM Reports: Reading instruction in American schools is based on a flawed theory about reading. This theory was disproven by cognitive scientists decades ago, but it remains deeply embedded in curriculum materials and teaching practices. Many beginning readers learn these strategies in school: memorizing words, using context and guessing words, and skipping words they don’t know. This makes reading more difficult for many children. Children who aren’t able to read well can find it hard to master the skill.

This theory is known as “Three Cueing” and it stems from the idea that readers use three types of information (or “cues”) to identify words while reading. Although it was initially a questionable assertion, Ken Goodman, an education professor, proposed it in 1967. It has since been adopted by the majority of American children.

Goodman argued that reading does not require precise or detailed perceptions of letters and words. These three cues are what Goodman argued instead:

Graphic cues (what does the letter tell you about the word?)

Syntactic cues (what type of word could it possibly be, for instance, a noun, or a verb)

Semantic cues (What word, based on context, would make sense?

Goodman concluded that

Reading skill requires not more precision. It is about making better first guesses, using better sampling techniques, greater control of language structure, broader experiences, and greater conceptual development. As the child gains reading speed and skill, he will use fewer graphic cues.

As a result, this academic charlatan has been exposed. Actually, American children were taught to recognize the sounds of letters and words for over 200 years. This gave them the ability to “sound out” words. Parents will tell you that children who learn how to read using the “whole word” approach are more successful than those who look for meanings or syntax in words.

Despite the depressing reading scores of the past 30 years, those who are opposed to the Three Cueing approach were pushed to the sidelines. They have been falling. American public schools are falling apart in America’s attempt to fulfill their most important mission, which is to prepare children for adulthood.