Fight Over Phonics Forces Curricula Revisions In Number Of U.S. Schools
Lucy Calkins, an education professor and creator of the popular “Units of Study” curriculum used by a quarter of U.S. elementary schools, has significantly revised her approach to early reading instruction, as reported by The New York Times. In response to mounting criticism from parents and educators who promote the “science of reading” and an increased focus on phonics, Calkins has overhauled her curriculum to include daily structured phonics lessons and more rigorous texts, swapping out light reading assignments. The revised curriculum, due for release this summer, also includes a 20-page guide summarizing 50 years of cognitive research on reading. Calkins has traditionally championed “balanced literacy,” which emphasizes thematic exploration and personal choice in reading, over phonics-focused approaches. Her shift reflects a growing consensus on the importance of phonics in early reading education, with brain science and educational policies increasingly favoring this method. Critics of Calkins suggest that her previous approaches have contributed to a literacy crisis in America and critique her singular influence on literacy education, although assessments of her methods’ effectiveness have been mixed.
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