Spelling out why the 'science of reading' movement is winning the Reading Wars

Lawmakers across the US are being swayed

Primary school classroom with phonics on white board
Phonics instruction has taken on a greater emphasis in US classrooms
(Image credit: Richard Bailey / Getty Images)

How we teach children to read has been a contentious issue in the United States for decades, a debate that has "occasionally grown so vicious it's been dubbed the Reading Wars," Vox reported. On one side are the proponents of the "science of reading" movement, a phonics- and cognitive-based instructional method. The opposing side champions "balanced literacy," emphasizing word recognition and context clues.

Policies have vacillated back and forth for over a century, but since 2019, the science of reading camp "has scored a victory that, if not permanent, is at least decisive," Vox pointed out. More than 40 states have passed laws during the past five years to reform reading instruction to be more aligned with cognitive research. Amid "an era of intense politicization of education," the push toward revamping reading instruction has garnered "rare bipartisan consensus," per The New York Times

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