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Newark schools struggle to teach kids to read


Schools in Newark have a challenge on their hands — how to get students to read. The latest test results show that only 19% of third graders can read on grade level, the same as last year, and across all grades only 29% can.

Studies show there was certainly learning loss from the pandemic, but experts say the problem is long-standing. Jasmine Morrison runs an advocacy group called Unapologetic Parents. She said unless this changes kids simply will not be able to function in a changing world.

“We could say hey, they should at least be able to read on a third grade level, they’ll survive, but how much could they comprehend when information is coming so rapidly and AI is emerging?” she said.

Morrison said the children reading at grade level are likely to be found in charter schools.

“We need to figure out what is working, because again, there is a subset of children in the charter schools that are performing, and these are the same children that are in the same neighborhoods that are with the same children after school that are in district schools and in merit schools,” she said.

“We’re not paying close enough attention to the data and we’re not pivoting and making the changes that are necessary in the time frame that is necessary to improve the outcomes for our children. This is the third year that we’ve seen this same metric,” she said.

It’s known that there was learning loss from the pandemic, but experts say the problem in Newark goes back farther than that. Newark Public Schools did not respond to a request for comment.

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.