Evolving Position Statement on the Teaching & Learning of Reading

The Elementary and Literacy Education Department Faculty’s evolving position statement about the teaching and learning of reading.

Based on our expertise in the social and cultural foundations of literacy education, we affirm the following principles about the teaching and learning of reading:

  1. Reading instruction should be culturally responsive and antiracist, drawing upon children's cultural and linguistic assets to build skills and strategies in reading. We are committed to addressing the predictable unjust racial and socio-economic disparities in reading outcomes and opportunities within the state of Minnesota and nationwide.
  2. Reading instruction should inspire children to be active citizens in the world around them, see their agency and voice, and imagine futures that are more just.
  3. Each of the five “pillars” of reading instruction described in the National Reading Panel Report (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary) must be supported in the teaching and learning of reading. Also, a full spectrum of literacy research should be used to understand the processes of reading.
  4. Explicit, systematic phonics instruction is a vital aspect of a comprehensive reading program. Further, phonics instruction should be embedded within meaningful opportunities for children to read and write to the greatest extent possible. Graduates of our reading programs have significant opportunities to learn about the integral role of explicit phonics instruction within any classroom.
  5. Reading, writing, and oral language are reciprocally related processes. Development in one promotes development in the others.
  6. The teacher is the most significant variable in determining students’ reading achievement, not a curriculum, program, or approach. We strive to provide pre-service and practicing teachers with a wealth of research-based strategies so that they are able to critically analyze and successfully adapt any curriculum to meet the needs of all students.
  7. Effective teaching of reading includes equally valuing students’ inquiry and joy in reading, alongside a commitment to teach skillful decoding skills and strategies. Learning is most effective when we incorporate children’s social, emotional, intellectual, and imaginative dimensions as assets.