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The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System--And How to Fix It
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The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System--And How to Fix It

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  13 reviews
The untold story of the root cause of America's education crisis--and the seemingly endless cycle of multigenerational poverty.

It was only after years within the education reform movement that Natalie Wexler stumbled across a hidden explanation for our country's frustrating lack of progress when it comes to providing every child with a quality education. The problem wasn
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Avery Publishing Group
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4.31  · 
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 ·  58 ratings  ·  13 reviews

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Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was maddening, because it could have been an excellent exploration of the tension inherent in school curriculum. But the title should have clued me into the fact that this was promotion of an idea rather than an exploration of an idea. Any author that suggests that there's a single "cause" of a "broken system" and offers a single solution to "fix" it is probably not going to satisfy me. The book reminded me of those Netflix "documentaries" that are really just position pieces for a par ...more
Cary Giese
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The thesis of this book is that, in the United States today, the guiding early grades method(s) of how to teach reading is wrong!

Today’s principle is: “through the third grade children need to spend their time “learning to read” before they can progress to “reading to learn.”

The author believes that the guidance is in error.

The author, Natalie Wexler, is an education journalist who’s work has appeared in The NY Times, the Atlantic, and the Washington Post etc. She spent extensive time in vario
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am not an educator. I am a parent of 3 dyslexic children who have been failed by the current state of reading in our current educational system. I picked up this book after being intrigued by the author’s articles for Forbes over this past year. I am an advocate for schools using structured literacy, and have often wondered how comprehension could be better addressed as one of the key components of reading. I saw in my own kid’s school days the heavy focus on the “comprehension skills”. I knew ...more
Kelsey Syers
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book completely changed my outlook on elementary teaching methods and curriculum. The argument is that far too much time is spent on reading skills in elementary school instead of subjects that "build background" like Science and Social Studies. I used to be a believer in "reading-centered" elementary classrooms, but this book has made me reevaluate that belief. How can a student read scientific or historical texts if he or she doesn't have the background necessary to understand the context ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
convincing [to me] takedown of traditional [whether called "whole language" or more recently "balanced literacy"] skills-focused approaches to teaching kids to read. if i got it right, her thesis is more or less that learning to read = two distinct processes:

1. figuring out correspondence of letters to sounds
2. comprehending what the strings of letters and words actually mean

She depicts prevailing methods of instruction as treating #1 as more or less automatic [don't sweat the misspellings!] whi
Richmond Vernon
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think this is a very important book and immediately purchased it after reading the author’s article in The Atlantic, “Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong.” Throughout my 5 years as a social studies teacher in a high-poverty school with a significant ELL population, I have often looked at our curriculum and instructional practices and asked myself if I was going crazy. This book assured me that, no, I’m not going crazy.

The author makes the case that we must teach our students knowledg
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well-argued book advocating for focusing on knowledge rather than (just) skills in education.

The author starts by examining early literacy and comparing two dominant approaches: phonics and balanced literacy. She points out that of the two, phonics is by far the one with the most evidence for its efficacy, but argues that it's missing something big: word knowledge. Even if you know how to sound a word out, you still can't read if you don't know its meaning.

This seemed fairly obvious to me, but a
Cole Eagland
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it
While I learned a few things about content-based instruction and am behind the idea, the book felt a bit disjointed. After reading the first few chapters, I felt my eyes had been opened to errors in the way we teach children. After reading the rest of the book, I'm a bit confused on what a good solution actually looks like. Somewhere in the back and forth exploration of different teaching methods, I lost the thread of what was what and found myself thinking, "Wait, is the method being described ...more
Ann Harrington
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The author, at times, derailed the primary thesis of her book by overgeneralizing, oversimplifying, and, at times, misunderstanding and misinterpreting aspects of balanced literacy instruction, teacher education, and early literacy instruction. Nonetheless, this book is extraordinarily thought-provoking and has changed my thinking dramatically about elementary literacy instruction. I highly recommend this book to everyone who cares about elementary literacy instruction!
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I skipped to the chapters about how to fix things by giving students more information through other channels besides reading, and how it leads to improvements in reading and have started the chapter on the writing revolution (thinking of written English as a second language for the purposes of teaching writing (and reading!).
It is great so far, but ymmv, since who knows what i missed!
i hope i can figure out how to edit this when i finish the meatiest chapters.
Sandy Sopko
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wexler tackles the question, what are we really "testing" when we administer a reading test? Language Arts teachers know it's not comprehension or even the menu of skills or application thereof. Prior knowledge is critical to making meaning of texts, and Wexler advocates building knowledge to enable students to maximize their learning. Interesting reading.
Irina Jackson
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I have read on ever. It is thoroughly researched, makes perfect logical sense, and pushes for a content-driven (vs. skills-driven) curriculum. There is so much data to back this wonder I have loved EngageNY for so long!
Isabella Zink
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
While the content was interesting (and scary!) I found the meandering narrative style to detract from the book as a whole.
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Natalie Wexler is the author of The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System--and How to Fix It. She is the co-author, with Judith C. Hochman, of The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades, and is a senior contributor on education to Forbes. Her op-eds and articles have appeared in a number of publications, including ...more