Greetings, Iowa Association of School Boards and all—

MERRY CHRISTMAS--NOT!!  Please forward this post to all school boards in the state.  Thank you very much.

On December 2nd, Cedar Rapids Gazette reporters Molly Duffy and Rod Boshart reported failures of all 3 Iowa pilot summer reading programs, attended by 1,000 students!!  None of the educator concocted programs improved student reading skills as they were meant to do!  Not even close!!  The failures blew huge holes in the upcoming, educator concocted, state mandated, poorly planned, destined for failure, $14 million summer reading program.

The 3 hobby operated reading programs had no comprehensive improvement plans, no one was named in charge, there were no measureable, monthly interim milestones to show the programs were failing--and no timely corrective action was taken!   The hobbyist education perpetrators finally figured out in December that the summer programs failed.  And now they don’t know why they failed or what to do about it—as usual.    

As a result, superior educator Dr. Sue Atkinson explains things for school boards ready to take charge, bypass the inept hobbyist educators, and fix Iowa’s failed schools!  Her explanation follows!!  Stay tuned for a comprehensive plan for school boards to use to fix the schools.  There is hope!!  But first they need to know more about the mess hobbyist educators have made of the schools. 


Iowa educators are at a loss to explain why they are unable to effectively teach the five concepts of reading, known as the science of reading; why Iowa student proficiencies are failing to rise to national grade level of 65th National Percentile Rank (NPR) termed “proficient” on NAEP results; and why more states are passing Iowa in level of student proficiencies.

·       Educators are now forbidden to continue to blame the shortcomings on students because it violates their civil right to access education – but educators long ago adopted false theories based on the presumption that students were at fault (thus failing to understand the flaws in the educator methods) and appear to be unable to recognize the need for change;

·       Educators are now blaming inadequately trained teachers for the failure – which would agree with the assessments from the National Council on Teacher Quality that Iowa’s teacher training programs are in the bottom 20% of the country (but continues to ignore the methods being used and the fact they are not consistent with concept-based education);

·       Educators completely miss the point that assessments based on depth of knowledge and application of concepts (such as Formative Assessment System for Teachers--FAST) work in a much better manner than the Iowa Assessments, based on memorized factoids (giving a pseudo appearance but no depth) – as evidenced by the failure to forbid the use of memorization, which ignores certain learning styles, thus preventing those students from learning.

IN ADDITION, these poorly-trained, ineffective  Iowa educators are writing the curriculum for Iowa, based on all of these flaws within the system itself.  The report on the 09/08/2016 study below points out the importance of BOTH curriculum and teacher effectiveness.

Dyslexia and Teacher Prep Dysfunction study released 9 September 2016:  and  The Dyslexia Dilemma: A History of Ignorance, Complacency and Resistance in Colleges of Education   released in 2016.    

Dyslexia and Teacher Prep Dysfunction”


Is it too much to ask that professionals stay abreast of the research? The authors of a recently published study, "The Dyslexia Dilemma," don't think it is and the extended title of the study suggests the reasons why without mincing words: "A History of Ignorance, Complacency and Resistance in Colleges of Education."[1] The study highlights the fact that the Science of Reading instruction is neither studied nor taught in teacher prep programs.

For 20 percent of children, reading is the most complicated, difficult endeavor they will face probably until adulthood. Often these children who struggle to learn to read are labeled "dyslexic." The term has been medicalized into a neurological syndrome across the board. The authors of this study, led by David Hurford, contend that these children are simply not being properly taught. The authors' dissatisfaction with the failure of teacher preparation programs to teach the science of reading to aspiring teachers almost rises to the level of outrage—as well it should.

In spite of decades of research and legislation going back to the 1980s' A Nation at Risk, the 1990's America's Schools Act, the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, the 2001 National Reading Panel Report, the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, and the Common Core State Standards initiative, reading achievement in the United States remains stagnant. By NAEP measures, reading achievement remains at 1992 levels. Well over 50 percent of children in grades 4, 8, and 12 do not read at a proficient level. Even the attempted "end run" of a couple decades of teaching to the test has not caused the scores to budge.”

…”Nonetheless, a survey of hundreds of teachers revealed serious gaps in teachers' knowledge of basic scientific findings. It's especially lacking when it comes to their need to understand the structural phonology of language and its relationship to learning to read. Only 20 percent in a sample of over 700 teachers could segment words into speech sounds, for example. The teachers surveyed reported that they had never received formal instruction in phonological processing.”

…”In the same way that teachers cannot teach what they have not been taught, neither can college instructors. The difference is that college instructors have a responsibility to be on the cusp of research. Both the ignorance and culpability are systemic in colleges of education.

In addition to documenting the pervasive weaknesses in reading found in most Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs, Hurford et al point to the persistence of myth in teacher preparation, the most insidious of all being the idea that learning to read is a natural, innate process—the myth that gave rise to the scientifically discredited and abject failure of the "Whole Language" approach to reading instruction. “

Hurford D, Hurford J, Head K, Keiper M, Nitcher S, Renner L. (2016) "The Dyslexia Dilemma: A History of Ignorance, Complacency and Resistance in colleges of Education." Journal of Childhood & Developmental Disorders. ISSN 2472-1786 Vol. 2 Num. 3:26

NOTE: Reading Achievement Level at or above Proficient (equivalent of national grade level not the low Iowa level indicated by Achievement Level at or above Basic) is not progressing as it is with an increasing number of other states.  Between 1992 and 2015 it has only risen 2%!!!!


Dr. Sue Atkinson

Baxter, Iowa


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