Everyone, including MREA, wants students to be proficient in reading. The key questions are:
- What are more effective instructional methods?
- What methods efficiently use teachers’ time?
The legislature is considering two very different answers to these questions.
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Reading Research (MCCR) conducts applied research on reading and research on teaching approaches that facilitate reading instruction. Using research-based approaches to literacy, the center developed Path to Reading Excellence in School Sites (PRESS) to work with teacher and administrators to establish school-based systems and practices for elementary students to become capable readers. PRESS utilizes four strategies:
- Quality core instruction
- Data-driven instructional decisions
- Tiered interventions
- Ongoing-embedded professional learning
In SF1222/HF1376, MDE proposes a workable, researched-based, updating of already required school district literacy plans (see pages 10-13) to help improve reading proficiency among the state’s third graders. View the bill text. MREA supports this methodology being proposed by Sen. Pratt and Sen. Nelson.
A Different Approach
Yet, other Minnesota lawmakers are seriously considering adding a required personal learning plan for students not proficient on the third grade Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA). This new proposal, SF468/ HF538, is sponsored by key education leaders at the Capitol, including Sen. Pratt (Chair, Sen. E-12 Policy), Sen. Nelson (Chair, Sen. E-12 Finance) and Sen. Wiger (Ranking Minority Member, Sen. E-12 Finance).
Under this proposal, these personal learning plans shall be:
“…developed and updated as needed in consultation, to the extent practicable, with the student and the student’s parents by the classroom teachers and other qualified school professionals involved with the student’s elementary school progress. A personal learning plan shall address knowledge gaps and skill deficiencies through strategies such as specific exercises and practices during outside of the regular school day, periodic assessments and timelines, and may include grade retention, if necessary, to meet the student’s best interests. Read the bill
The state estimates that this personal learning plan will only take a teacher one hour to write in consultation with parents and have zero financial cost to the state. This seems grossly underestimated, especially given open-ended nature of the requirement. Even at one hour, it is estimated this will take a total of 22,000 hours annually as there are an estimated 22,000 Minnesota third graders not proficient in reading. Learn more.
This could become an ineffective use of teachers’ time in this area. Research shows that achieving higher reading proficiency requires hands-on reading and related activities between teachers and students.
SF468/ HF538 fails to provide more effective and efficient reading instruction methods to increase reading proficiency.
MREA asks the legislature to reject this unnecessary requirement on teachers and instead support effective, researched-based reading instruction as described in SF1222/HF1376 (Pratt/Erickson). View the bill text.