Learning to Read: Precursors and Remediation

Educational Challenge: Despite established guidelines on literacy education, a surprisingly high proportion of students have difficulty reading at grade level, beyond what could be explained with learning difficulties. This is perhaps the strongest sign of a broken education system.

Complexity Theory: Even established innovations do not easily get implemented. This has to do with the systemic processes that keep ineffective procedures in place past their time. Top-down forces are insufficient to change such an established system. For example, it is not enough to merely apply a top-down literacy requirement. Instead, an intricate balance of top-down and bottom-up forces are needed that empower decision making at all levels of the hierarchy.

Our Activities: In an effort to understand how to improve reading proficiency, we look at ways in which school systems can be changed from within, without a top-down mandate. We build upon the idea of “continuous improvement and study it from a system-based perspective.

Implications: Our work re-defines the role of students in their education. Rather than thinking of students as the receivers of educational innovations, a system-based perspective puts them in the driver seat. This might ultimately help them reach the required literacy level.