Books are Enough

The Power of Free, Self-Selected Reading

For the Love of God- STOP using READ180

Scholastic has made billions from the packaged Read180 program. In some districts teachers are forced to spend 4 days out of the classroom just to learn how to “implement” this program.  I have seen the harmful consequences of the “program” for years. 

Most students I see coming to high school after having been bored to tears with Read180 in middle school have several things in common.

1. They have no reading stamina.

2. They cannot self-select books.

3. They think reading is boring.

4. They have a difficult time in high school since they have had limited access to books and time to read.

These issues are magnified for students in poverty who grew up in houses bereft of books. These students are crime victims. Throwing students on computer programs and forcing them to read and answer questions all the time is a great way to murder the reading spirit. And if that does not work- there is plenty of isolated skill practice to extinguish any lingering spark left in the spirit.

I challenge any school district to let me go up against your Read180 program with my students. You can give me the “lowest” group you want according to any measure. We read and discuss real books. We develop book-loving citizens which should be the goal of all teachers.

Read180 is a creature of the educational testing complex and I aim to end its use. Who has the testicular fortitude to take my challenge? If we create avid readers in elementary school and support them through secondary school there is little need for “remediation” and kids do just fine.

Reading researcher Dick Allington once noted that the kids who need to read the most are given worksheets and computer programs while those with high test scores get to read and are not subjected to stunting pedagogy. Allington also notes that volume reading predicts growth in “struggling” readers. 

My definition of a “struggling reader” is one who has not had access to books or time to read them- like the Read180 crowd.

We have a choice. We can either welcome kids into the community of readers or the community of test takers. To those who choose the latter- let them be anathema.

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