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NJ education advocates taking case to Trenton to try to improve students' reading


Some statistics show that in urban areas of the state less than 10% of students are reading at grade level

New Jersey has some work to do to get students reading skills up to where they should be.

Recent government statistics show there has not been much change in the past 20 years in the state in getting 4th graders to read and read well regardless of race or economic status.

And in some urban areas less than 10% of students are reading at grade level.

Paula White of the advocacy group JerseyCAN said the problem has been schools jumping around in terms of different teaching methods.

“As long as we’re caught in this loop of going back and forth and swinging a pendulum we’re always going to find ourselves in this predicament,” she said.

White said her group and others will be taking their case to Trenton to try to get more consistent teaching guidelines and a stricter set of protocols for schools to follow.

“We will be speaking to lawmakers about how can we codify some of the obligations that we have, to make sure that our districts and all of our public schools are following certain protocols, whether that involves advising parents of where their children stand, or making sure schools are screening for students most at risk of reading problems,” she said.

Other recent data show that almost 60% of the state’s third graders are not meeting reading standards. White said it’s not only the students who must be taught, but the teachers.

“Are you using the science of reading? Are you making sure children have phonemic awareness and then good strategies around fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension? Because if you’re not doing that, we know that we’re going to be in trouble,” she said.

There will be a screening May 17 at 630pm at Nico in NJPAC of the documentary, The Right to Read, to try to raise awareness of the problem.

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.