Sixty-six percent of fourth graders in the U.S. cannot read and comprehend at grade level, regardless of family income.
That’s why ReadWorks, a nonprofit committed to solving the nation’s reading comprehension crisis, unveiled a new, free online resource for teachers. Called “Article-a-Day,” the curriculum was released upon completion of a pilot that saw an exceptional increase in student comprehension scores.
Based on applied cognitive science and developed in partnership with renowned reading expert Elfrieda Hiebert, Ph.D, Article-a-Day is a researched-based curriculum that uses high-quality, non-fiction articles to help students build topical background knowledge,retain new vocabulary, and increase reading automaticity—three approaches that have proven to improve literacy.
“National reading scores haven’t budged in years, and one reason for that is the serious lack of reading content and pedagogy that are based on a cognitive science framework,” says David Ciulla, executive director at ReadWorks. “Cognitive science tells us that to be good readers, students should start learning a little about a lot at an early age. Article-a-Day isn’t limited to core subjects, and covers topics like art, music and technology, giving students a well-rounded body of knowledge while also improving reading comprehension skills.”
Requiring only 15 minutes of class time a day, students choose one of two articles that focus on the week’s topic, record new information they learn and share their knowledge with the class during a short discussion. The program has shown to improve reading comprehension skills in both struggling readers and at-level readers: of the more than 600 students who used Article-a-Day, 78% improved their reading comprehension score.
“The varied, expanded exposure to content that children are now receiving through AAD is what our school needed to make more significant improvements in children’s background knowledge,” says Linda Woolverton, Principal of P.S. 31 in Staten Island. “I know that it had a positive impact on the students’ reading ability and comprehension.”
Any teacher can access Article-a-Day—which is aligned with Common Core and meets the standards of all 50 states—free of cost on ReadWorks’ website. Currently the organization is offering a full school year of leveled content for PreK-5, with plans to expand through eighth grade. Prior to making Article-a-Day available online to all teachers, ReadWorks worked with Dr. Hiebert and refined the offering with Dr. Joanna Williams of the National Reading Panel to pilot the program in three New York City schools, where 91 percent of teachers said they would continue to use Article-a-Day after the pilot ended.
“I saw most of my student’s comprehension improve over time, and saw the lengths of their responses increase. I saw them make more connections to previously learned articles from other weeks, and noticed them checking out more nonfiction books that were on the topics we read about in the articles,” says Maria Scarpinato, a second grade teacher at P.S. 69 Journey Prep in the Bronx.
To learn more about the online resource, ReadWorks made a short video introducing the curriculum: