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New Jersey Early Reading Guidance

In June 2021, New Jersey’s Department of Education, in cooperation with the New Jersey Tiered System of Support and Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, published a guidance document titled EARLY READING – Instructional Supports for Fall 2021 in Response to the Pandemic. Here at the Robinowitz Education Center, we were excited to learn of its publication and discover that it includes explicit explanations of the following three main topics: Assess, Instruct, and Monitor.

The guidance document begins by discussing the importance of assessment and describes the varied types of assessments used by NJ schools. For example, the state, NJTSS and Rutgers explain that the DRA-2 is not designed to identify kids at risk for reading disorders. Why assess with tools specifically designed to measure early literacy skills? To answer this question, the following research citation is quoted by the authors, “Students who struggle with foundational reading skills in early elementary grades continue to have lower school performance in middle and high school (Fuchs, et al 2019). We need to screen and intervene early rather than later.

Taking the next step after appropriate assessments are conducted, the guidance document moves onto its next topic – Instruct. It lists the NJ ELA Learning Standards alongside specific sample skills that require explicit instruction. For example, early on, Kindergarten students should learn how to blend and segment phonemes and by the end of kindergarten be able to decode and encode cvc words.

Finally, the EARLY READING document discusses the importance of Monitoring all students to ensure mastery of expectations by the end of each school year. The Robinowitz Education Center team was pleased to see the state reference the use of core curriculums that include phonological awareness and a phonics scope and sequence.

Join us in spreading the word about this critically important document that serves to address the reading outcomes for ALL students in New Jersey. Click here to watch a webinar explaining the EARLY READING guidance.