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Colorado’s emphasis on phonics in reading could hurt English language learners, advocates say

Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat |

A group of Colorado educators and advocates are raising concerns that the state’s new directives on reading instruction might harm one group of students who can’t afford to be left behind: those whose first language is not English.

Officials across the country have been following a new push to align reading instruction with science that shows students need direct phonics instruction in the early grades to learn to read.

But Colorado researchers who study strategies for English language learners say this push, and its research, have not specifically considered the needs of English learners. And they say that that while phonics instruction is important for all students, including for those who are learning English as a new language, teachers should not ignore other literacy components such as comprehension and oral language.

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