Tu­tors must be well trained

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Mar­i­lyn Zecher, Rockville

I heartily agree that in­ten­sive one-to-one tu­tor­ing in foun­da­tional read­ing and math skills can re­duce the level of aca­demic fail­ure in Mary­land public schools. For those who can af­ford it, pri­vate tu­tor­ing is the cur­rent prac­tice for stu­dents who strug­gle to read. There are low-cost and free op­tions through the Dyslexia Tu­tor­ing Cen­ter in Bal­ti­more, but they can­not serve ev­ery stu­dent with low lit­er­acy skills.

The key dif­fer­ence be­tween good tu­tor­ing and poor tu­tor­ing is the qual­ity of the teacher prepa­ra­tion, and if tu­tor­ing is not of­fered by ed­u­ca­tors trained in the foun­da­tions of read­ing and code-based in­struc­tion, then sadly, any at­tempt to of­fer tar­geted tu­tor­ing will con­tinue to waste money and emo­tional in­vest­ment for stu­dents and their fam­i­lies.

Spe­cial­ized lan­guage in­ter­ven­tions taught by teach­ers pre­pared in the foun­da­tions of read­ing or com­mu­nity vol­un­teers must be based on ef­fec­tive ev­i­dence-based read­ing meth­ods also known as struc­tured lit­er­acy. The Mary­land Task Force to Study Im­ple­men­ta­tion of a Dyslexia Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram heard from read­ing ex­perts across the coun­try on the root causes of read­ing fail­ure (60 per­cent of stu­dents in Mary­land read below pro­fi­ciency). Based on pre­sen­ta­tions and ex­pert tes­ti­mony, the panel will re­port to the Gov. Larry Ho­gan and the leg­is­la­ture by year’s end meth­ods to cre­ate a dyslexia pi­lot pro­gram in Mary­land that in­cludes screen­ing for read­ing prob­lems, ev­i­dence-based in­ter­ven­tions and in-ser­vice teacher train­ing to ad­dress the gap in read­ing.

Re­sults of demon­stra­tion projects in Ohio, Arkansas, Kansas and Penn­syl­va­nia pro­vide de­fin­i­tive proof that im­proved iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, train­ing and in­struc­tion im­proves read­ing per­for­mance among the most at-risk stu­dents. In one school sys­tem, the as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent in­sisted on pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment and fi­delity mon­i­tor­ing of ev­i­dence-based read­ing in­struc­tion. The re­sult — stu­dent read­ing per­for­mance in­creased so dra­mat­i­cally that they are now on their way to be­com­ing one of the top sys­tems within the state.

Stu­dents in Bal­ti­more and across Mary­land de­serve ef­fec­tive read­ing in­struc­tion de­liv­ered by well-pre­pared teach­ers. The state should be lead­ing re­form ef­forts to close and the achieve­ment gap.

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