Recently, author, speaker, and consultant Mike Schmoker’s took on current literacy programs. He writes:

A cautionary tale: Not long ago, I was assisting a school district that had adopted a prominently endorsed literacy program. Our work began with a review of the program, which had an unassailable conceptual base. Yet, as several of us examined it, we noticed some profound shortcomings: The program abounded in minutiae, low-level worksheets, and excessive skill instruction, leaving little time for reading, discussion, and writing. Moreover, its highly scripted lessons were patently misconceived–the content and assessments were misaligned with the unfocused, haphazardly assembled array of (so-called) ‘learning objectives. In other words, the lessons lacked the most obvious elements of good teaching. For all this, the program’s visiting consultants had recently doubled down on their insistence that it had to be followed to the letter.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Our concerns led to conversation with the program’s highest-ranking official and one of its prominent endorsers. Point-by-point, they conceded that our perceptions were accurate, that the exigencies of program development had led to significant gaps between the program’s initial conception and its actual teaching materials. To their credit, they urged us–contrary to the company’s on-site consultants–to replace large portions of the program with those elements it lacked. On our own, the said, we should include more purposeful reading, high-quality books, discussion, and explicit writing instruction.

We must reckon with the fact that even popular, highly praised commercial programs often lack a robust evidence base…”

Schmoker doesn’t stop there, but I will, believing that that these three paragraphs tell you all you need to know about commercially packaged, Common Core-related literacy programs.

In a word, they’re lacking and can’t compare with a knowledgeable teacher who shoves the canned program in a drawer and instead designs thoughtful, evidence-based, well-delivered lessons.

Actually, having seen several teachers rely on these scripted lessons, I say, “Skip the drawer and toss it in the trash!”.

Apologies to those who rely on these programs; hopefully, no offense taken… ~ Carol