A new study indicates that it is not beneficial for most students (English learners are one exception), to shift to easier texts to facilitate their reading — as long as you are ready to provide instructional support.
I want kids to be close readers … I think teachers should strive to accomplish the standards their states have established. But take a gimlet-eyed look at what it is that you are teaching. Is it really close reading?
In grades 3-8, homework has a fairly consistent impact on achievement — and the payoff tends to increase as students advance through the grades (but so does the amount of homework time needed — more on that later).
Meta-analyses indicate that it is effective to teach kids about multiple text structures, and that text structure instruction is particularly potent when writing, graphic organizers, and guidance on watching for “clue words” are included.
For those kids who need basic decoding instruction, targeted interventions are important. But for the others, teach reading using the books those students need to read in their other classes. That approach simultaneously builds reading skills, improves content learning, and increases academic confidence.
Schools should provide students with up to 30 minutes a day of fluency instruction. But remember, this is across all classes and content areas. Get quick tips on paired reading, repeated reading, and other ways to improve reading fluency.
Above the 30-35th%ile cutoff, I would definitely just give these kids extra time with the demanding grade-level materials. Below that line, and I would want to provide at least some explicit instruction in foundational skills.
It is sensible to teach text reading fluency to middle schoolers (and high schoolers) class wide, and I’ve worked with more than 100 secondary schools that did this so successfully that it helped raise their reading achievement.
Instead of front-loading the first reading, you could try front-loading the second or third — after the kids have had a chance to “pedal the bike themselves” — even if that pedaling isn’t perfectly successful.