Phonics Is Back; Did It Ever Leave Catholic Schools? by Joan Frawley Desmond

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Phonics-based reading instruction is back in U.S. public schools, and Catholic experts want parochial schools to review their own standards.

Joan Frawley DesmondWASHINGTON — Back in the 1980s, when Mary Pat Donoghue completed her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, “Units of Study for Teaching Reading” was a popular new program that celebrated children as natural learners and downplayed the need for strong phonics instruction in K-2 classrooms.

Today, Units of Study is reportedly used in about one-quarter of U.S. elementary schools. But its primary author, Lucy Calkins, an influential Columbia University Teachers College professor, has been accused of failing millions of students who needed evidence-based techniques for building literacy, prompting her to add more phonics to her program. …