The policies and politics behind the science of reading

Welcome to the Wednesday, October 11, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. This October, Hall Pass digs into the policy debates over the science of reading
  2. Since 2010, more officials named in recalls in California than in any other state, Michigan a close second
  3. 44 candidates filed for congressional and statewide offices last week

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Hall Pass digs into the policy debates over the science of reading

Recent post-pandemic test score declines have raised concerns about the quality of reading instruction in public schools.

Throughout October, in our weekly education newsletter, Hall Pass, we’re diving deep into the current debate on the science of reading and the question: How can policymakers and administrators promote effective reading instruction in classrooms?

The science of reading broadly refers to the body of cross-disciplinary research into how children learn to read and the instructional approaches those findings support.

Instruction based on the science of reading is generally rooted in phonics—an approach that teaches children how to sound out words, allowing connections to words they may already know.

While evidence shows phonics plays an important role when teaching reading, there is debate over what level of phonics instruction best applies the science of reading in the classroom.

Here’s a look at two views of that debate:

Hanford argues that scientific research into how the brain stores the written forms of words demonstrates the importance of emphasizing phonics instruction in reading education, which allows children to connect spoken language to written language.

Hanford says, “Once a typically developing reader has looked carefully at a word a few times and sounded it out and identified or figured out what the word means, the written form of that word gets mapped into their memory.”

The International Literacy Association’s Literacy Research Panel writes that an emphasis on phonics instruction alone is not sufficient for teaching reading. Citing a RAND Corporation report titled “Reading for Understanding,” the panel argues that “students who learn to decode words accurately and quickly may, nevertheless, have comprehension difficulties.”

The panel instead argues in favor of an instruction approach that “also involves oral language development, writing and spelling, and a focus on comprehension.”

In this week’s edition—hitting inboxes later today—we are digging into debates on whether science has settled the question on reading instruction.

Use the link below to subscribe to Hall Pass and join us on this deep dive into the policies and politics behind the science of reading!

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Since 2010, more officials faced recalls in California than in any other state, Michigan a close second

Since 2010, Ballotpedia has followed recall efforts against 932 elected officials in California, the most of any state, and 19.1% of all recall efforts nationwide.

Michigan clocks in at a close second, with 902 officials in recall efforts, or 18.6% of all efforts nationwide. Colorado is third with 336 officials, or 6.9%.

Collectively, the six states with the most officials named in recalls since 2010—highlighted below—account for 2,961 officials, roughly 61% of all 4,860 officials named nationwide during that time.

These totals refer to all recall efforts, meaning instances where voters at least began the process to recall a named official. This typically involves filing paperwork and circulating petitions with the goal of gathering a requisite number of valid signatures to place a recall on the ballot.

Most recall efforts are unsuccessful, meaning the named officeholder or officeholders remain in office, either because the effort didn’t qualify for the ballot or because voters retained the named officials.

Between 2010 and 2022, Ballotpedia covered an average of 211 recall efforts against an average of 347 officials each year.

During that time, 16.4% of recall efforts removed a named official from office. The removal rate has ranged from a high of 27% (83 of 307) in 2011 to a low of 5% (25 of 545) in 2021.

So far this year, we have followed 239 recall efforts against 350 officials, 33 of whom were removed from office, giving our current year a removal rate of 9%. Another 41 recall elections are upcoming, so the rate may change.

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44 candidates filed for congressional and statewide offices last week

Last week, 44 candidates filed to run for congressional and state offices. That’s down from 51 last week.

Since the start of the year, we’ve followed an average of 47 candidate filings per week.

This year, we’ve identified 1,890 declared candidates for these offices. At this time in 2021, we had identified 2,147 declared candidates for 2022, 2023, and 2024 races.

Of last week’s declared candidates:

  • 21 are Democratic;
  • 22 are Republican; and,
  • One is a minor party candidate.

Fifteen candidates are running for state legislatures, one for a governorship, and six for some other state executive office. Most of last week’s candidates—22—are running for Congress: four in the Senate and 18 in the House. Here’s a look at where those congressional candidates filed:

We cover elections for tens of thousands of offices across the country. Part of that work includes keeping tabs on the candidates—both declared and official—running for those offices.

For more information about how we determine candidacies and a full list of 2024 congressional candidates, click the link below.

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