The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System—and How To Fix It

Avery. Aug. 2019. 336p. notes. index. ISBN 9780735213555. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780735213579. ED
In this compelling work, journalist Wexler pinpoints the underlying issues that plague the American public education system, provides context to recent educational reforms, and offers possible solutions. Part 1 delves into current teaching methods that tend to stress decontextualized reading skills. The author argues that an emphasis on learning to read takes time away from reading to learn. Part 2 examines the historical underpinnings of the Common Core standards and the shift away from content-focused lessons. Part 3 suggests how curricula can be refocused on content rather than skills or standards. Throughout, Wexler discusses the centrality of prior knowledge and points out the lack of content or content scaffolding in many elementary and middle school curricula. She bases her conclusions on firsthand, yearlong observations of two types of teaching: skills-focused and knowledge-based. Knowledge and vocabulary building better prepare students for future academic achievement, regardless of socioeconomic background. Wexler shares candid assessments of innovative educators and the struggles faced by teachers dealing with standards and testing.
VERDICT Essential reading for teachers, education administrators, and policymakers alike.
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