Articles

THE ATLANTIC

Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong, August 2019

In the early grades, U.S. schools value reading-comprehension skills over knowledge. The results are devastating, especially for poor kids. …

Why American Students Haven’t Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years, April 13, 2018

Every two years, education-policy wonks gear up for what has become a time-honored ritual: the release of the Nation’s Report Card. Officially known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the data reflect the results of reading and math tests administered to a sample of students across the country. Experts generally consider the tests rigorous and highly reliable—and the scores basically stagnant. …

 

FORBES.COM (RECENT POSTS)

To End High School Tracking, We Need to End Tracking in Elementary School, August 10, 2019

Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon was famously a place where all the children were above average. In one large suburban school district, some high schools are trying to turn that dream into a reality by putting all students in honors classes. …

Three Reasons Classroom Practice Conflicts With Evidence on How Kids Learn, August 3, 2019

Over the last several decades, psychologists have unearthed a wealth of evidence on how children learn. But for three basic reasons, it’s proven hard to translate that evidence into classroom practice. …

The Power of “Just Reading” a Good Novel, July 28, 2019

English teachers are increasingly trying to teach comprehension using short texts and excerpts from novels. But if they just read whole novels aloud at a fast pace, they might get better results. …

Has the Common Core Helped or Hindered Education Reform? Maybe Both, July 20, 2019

The Common Core literacy standards were intended to shift instruction toward building knowledge and away from illusory reading comprehension “skills.” But many teachers have stuck with “skills” and added nonfiction—a losing combination. …

What Kamala Harris and Joe Biden Should Be Talking About Instead of Busing, June 30, 2019

Joe Biden is getting flak for his stance on busing. But segregated schools aren’t the root cause of educational inequity, and integration alone isn’t enough to address it. …

Click here to see a list of all of Natalie’s posts on Forbes.com.

 

CHALKBEAT

The case for teaching about sharks and mummies, not captions and the main idea, August 6, 2019

How do students best learn to read? Equally important, how do students learn to love reading? The Common Core emphasizes reading comprehension skills, like identifying the main idea of a text. Yet in her new book, “The Knowledge Gap,” Natalie Wexler argues that teaching those skills in a vacuum, rather than centering instruction around interesting and rigorous content knowledge, hurts both student achievement and engagement.

 

MINDSHIFT/KQED

How Testing Kids for Skills Can Hurt Those Lacking Knowledge, August 12, 2019

In 1987, two researchers in Wisconsin, Donna Recht and Lauren Leslie, constructed a miniature baseball field and installed it in an empty classroom in a junior high school. They peopled it with four-inch wooden baseball players arranged to simulate the beginning of a game. Then they brought in sixty-four seventh- and eighth-grade students who had been tested both for their general reading ability and their knowledge of baseball. …

 

RESEARCH ED MAGAZINE

Writing and Cognitive Load Theory, June 24, 2019

Cognitive load theory has been described as one of the most important discussions in modern psychology that educators need to be familiar with. Natalie Wexler looks at what the implications of this theory are for the way we teach writing, and what it means in the classroom. …

 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

How Common Core Can Help in the Battle of Skills vs. Knowledge, August 28, 2015
Standardized tests are commonly blamed for narrowing the school curriculum to reading and math. That’s one reason Congress is considering changes in the law that could lead states to put less emphasis on test scores. But even if we abolished standardized tests tomorrow, a majority of elementary schools would continue to pay scant attention to subjects like history and science. …

 

THE WASHINGTON POST

The inappropriate focus on reading and math hurts students, February 26, 2018
The resignation of D.C. Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson in the wake of two embarrassing scandals at the high school level could provide D.C. schools with an opportunity to change course and regain its reputation as a national model of education reform. But that can only happen if officials recognize the true source of both scandals: elementary school, long considered the bright spot in the system. …

Why Americans can’t write, September 24, 2015
It’s no secret that many Americans are lousy writers. Just ask any college professor or employer, including those at prestigious institutions. With the advent of e-mail, writing ability has become more important than ever, and writing deficiencies have become increasingly apparent. …

 

AMERICAN EDUCATOR (WITH JUDITH C. HOCHMAN)

One Sentence at a Time: The Need for Explicit Instruction in Teaching Students to Write Well, Summer 2017
When Monica entered high school, her writing skills were minimal. After repeating first grade and getting more than 100 hours of tutoring in elementary school, she’d managed to learn to read well enough to get by, and she was comfortable with math. But writing seemed beyond her reach. …