This piece is fair and balanced. You do a great job contextualizing concerns expressed. You mention this study:

"Researchers at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute discovered that children who got 30 more minutes a day of social studies than average had higher reading scores by fifth grade. The benefit was greatest for those from low-income families and negligible for those from the highest-income families. At the same time, an extra 30 minutes a day on reading was not correlated with higher reading scores. One likely reason is that social studies was providing students with the knowledge and vocabulary they needed to understand the passages on reading tests—especially if they were unlikely to pick up that knowledge at home."

I definitely think we can do a better job with knowledge-building during the literacy block. But I wonder if we are neglecting the broader question of what science and social study look like in the elementary classroom and how we can do a better job integrating the so-called 'content areas' with reading instruction. Core Knowledge is an ELA program. What connection, if any, is there between the knowledge-building in that program and the science and social studies sequence in the same K-6 classrooms that use it? Given the time constraints teachers face, I think we need to do a much better job providing our teachers with an integrated curriculum to make lessons simpler for the teacher and deeper for the students.

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Fine writer and reader of Substack—we are starting a movement to get a poetry section added to the platform. Can I ask, are you with us?


If so, please consider clicking the above link and liking the Notes post—leave a comment or even share within your own community. Poetry lives on in the minds of hearts of writers, it breathes on the page.

Your voice can be heard among the starry illuminations, howling at the moon.

Thank you for your time and support.

Love and appreciation,


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Excellent summary of the state of the field.

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Why can’t we test what we teach through reading and writing in all areas and call it a day? For ELA courses, as one example, test reading using the texts students are assigned in those courses. Once students are “into them,” test the next chapter not-yet read. I do not see the need for reading tests that are based on the faulty notion that reading is a general skill. Let’s test reading fairly.

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I am very glad you wrote this well balanced article about the study concerns. I am raising one other: the fact that the schools were Core Knowledge Foundation charters and started some time ago suggests that equating the findings to the Amplify CKLA curriculum is not straightforward. The Amplify CKLA curriculum is not the same but is more explicit and more comprehensive than was the original Core Knowledge foundation program. Comparing different versions of curriculum is fraught with challenges because many changes often have occurred. In order to say the results of A mean that B also has those results, one would have to first do a complete analysis to determine the identical content, approach, amount of practice, etc.

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