Teaching At-Risk & Struggling Children to Learn to Read

What we need

…children struggling to read aren’t going to be helped by the one-size-fits-all approach that is typical in so many schools. Rather, we need teachers who are trained to use a toolbox of principles that they can apply to different types of children.

Maryanne Wolf, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.

Improved Teacher Preparation




A CRITICAL AND IMMEDIATE NEED:  All Maine teacher preparation programs should include required evidence-based reading courses, such as USM’s SPY 627, UM’s SED 545, and UMF’s SED 301, for all teacher candidates who will be teaching reading:  literacy specialists, K-8 teacher candidates, and English language learner teacher candidates.  This knowledge base also needs to be available for current teachers who are teaching reading.
See  this website’s WHAT WE HAVE section for current options in evidence-based reading instruction for Maine teacher candidates and current Maine teachers.
Read what some states, such as Vermont, are using as a guideline for increasing teacher knowledge for those teacher candidates who will be teaching reading:

The International Dyslexia Association’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading


Reading Licensure Exam


Teaching reading IS rocket science, and states are now beginning to require in-depth reading licensure examinations for reading and literacy specialists and often for classroom K-3 teachers as well.
Connecticut’s Foundations of Reading test

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Massachusetts’ MTEL Foundations of Reading test

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Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam for Reading Teachers K-12
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Maine Needs A Testing


What are other states doing?


Improving Reading Instruction For At-Risk And Struggling Readers!

Minnesota: Teachers Are the Answer
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In 2009-2010, Minnesota passed a law 122A.o6 subd.4  requiring the teaching of comprehensive, scientifically-based reading instruction. Connect to the Minnesota Department of Education site and read What Is Scientifically-Based Reading Instruction?

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Wisconsin:   Wisconsin Reading Coalition
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Vermont:  Vermont Blueprint to Close the Achievement Gap
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Connecticut:  Read Connecticut’s proposed reading bill HB 5350 focused on achieving universal literacy by grade 3.

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Read this Connecticut news story Education Reform as Simple, and as Complicated, as A-B-C.
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Be An Advocate For All Maine Children


Study the Advocacy section of the Reading Rockets website.
Visit Site


Kids Reading OutsideRead Parenting a Struggling Reader by Susan Hall and Louisa Moats. Broadway Books, 2002. See especially Chapter 3, “Why You Are Your Child’s Best Advocate.” Available in PB.

Read Why Kids Can’t Read: Challenging the Status Quo in Education, edited by Phyllis Blaunstein and Reid Lyon. Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.  A how-to book of essays for parents working toward reform in the teaching of reading. Includes how to have help from the media, and how to talk with teachers, principals, school committee members, and state legislators.


Contact Your Maine Legislators

Find all your Maine elected officials here by typing in your street address and town.
The linked information will give you your all your Voting Districts as well as your Polling Place.
Click on the tab marked Elected Officials to find your State Senator and State Representative.
You may email your State Senator and State Representative from his or her individual page from this Maine site.


What to Request of Your Legislators

Boys Reading

Tell your legislators that we are failing to teach at-risk and struggling children to learn to read in Maine. Explain who are the children at-risk: children of poverty, English language learners, minority children, and children with language-based learning disabilities. We can teach all but 2-5% of children to learn to read irrespective of their backgrounds–if their reading instruction is grounded in the scientific evidence of how reading develops.


Unfortunately, many teachers do not have the background or training they need to implement evidence-based reading instruction in their classrooms.


We need requirements for state college and university teacher training programs (K-8 classroom, literacy specialist, SPED, undergraduate, graduate) to include required courses in the science of reading, data analysis, multi-tier interventions, and science-based reading instruction. Our new teachers must be prepared to teach all students to learn to read.


Suggest your legislator research this issue further and give the link to the Reading Matters to Maine website.


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