There is a theory about how people read words — one that's deeply embedded in teaching practices and curriculum materials widely used in elementary school classrooms. Although the idea has been disproved by cognitive scientists, it continues to be included in teacher preparation programs, promoted in professional development sessions, and marketed by publishers.
For decades, schools have taught children the strategies of struggling readers, using a theory about reading that cognitive scientists have repeatedly debunked. And many teachers and parents don't know there's anything wrong with it.
After our recent examination of why American kids aren't being taught to read well, we received a ton of questions, mostly from parents. So we went to the experts to get answers.
Scientific research has shown how children learn to read and how they should be taught. But many educators don't know the science and, in some cases, actively resist it. As a result, millions of kids are being set up to fail.
For Katy Sorto, college seemed like the way to a different life. But she had no idea how hard it would be.
At 19, Mario Martinez felt fortunate to have escaped his rough neighborhood and enrolled in a community college. But the odds that he would earn his degree and achieve the life he wanted were still against him.
Colleges have long offered a pathway to success for just about anyone. But new research shows that with the country growing ever more economically divided, colleges are not doing enough to help students from poor families achieve the American Dream.
A recent APM Reports documentary showed how schools aren't adequately complying with a decades-old federal law but new state laws are failing to help struggling readers, too.
Public schools are denying children proper treatment and often failing to identify them with dyslexia.
The director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University Medical Center explains what scientists are learning about what happens in the brain when a child learns to read — and what's different in the brain of someone with dyslexia.
The school district needed a new approach. The teachers needed training.
As in many parts of the country, remote McDowell County in West Virginia is having a hard time finding and keeping teachers. Vacancies are often filled by substitutes unqualified for the roles they must assume, and the isolated location deters many new hires.
Only 2 percent of the nation's teachers are black men. Increasing their numbers would benefit students of all backgrounds. In Philadelphia, a group forms to double the number by 2025.
For some reason, black teachers are disappearing. There were 4 percent fewer black teachers in American public schools in 2012 than there were in 2008.
The nation's high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, but high-poverty schools face a stubborn challenge. Schools in Miami and Pasadena are trying to do things differently.
A system meant to give college students a better shot at succeeding is actually getting in the way of many, costing them time and money and taking a particular toll on students of color.
In 1987 an educator frustrated with American school reform challenged Outward Bound to get more involved in the debate about the direction of public education. He thought American schools could learn from Outward Bound's focus on experiential learning and on teaching skills like resilience and collaboration.
One of the features of education at many Expeditionary Learning schools is an Outward Bound trip. See photos of one of these trips and read an interview with two principals about why they send their students outside and how it relates to what they're trying to do in the classroom.
Early in his life, Kurt Hahn had a vision of the kind of school he wanted to create, and it was nothing like the school he went to. It would be a school designed to help kids discover their interests and passions, not just prepare them for tests. And it would be a school devoted to character development.
There's a lot of talk these days about the importance of traits like grit, curiosity, and self-discipline — so-called "non-cognitive skills." How can schools teach those skills? Correspondent Emily Hanford explores the approach to character development at one school in Massachusetts.
In the United States, teaching isn't treated as a profession that requires extensive training like law or medicine. Teaching is seen as something you can figure out on your own, if you have a natural gift for it. But looking for gifted people won't work to fill the nation's classrooms with teachers who know what they're doing.
In 1993, a group of researchers set out to do something that had never been done before. They would hire a videographer to travel across the United States and record a random sample of eighth-grade math classes. What they found revealed a lot about American teaching.
"What you do when you're teaching is you think about other people's thinking. You don't think about your own thinking; you think what other people think. That's really hard." -Deborah Ball
In the United States, we tend to think that improving education is about improving teachers - recruiting better ones, firing bad ones. But the Japanese think about improving teaching. It's a very different idea.
At a Toyota plant in Kentucky, young people are learning how to fix robots, earning associate's degrees and graduating with jobs that pay up to $80,000 a year.
For years, vocational education was seen as a lesser form of schooling, tracking some kids into programs that ended up limiting their future opportunities. Today, in the nation's best vocational programs, things are different.
Vocational education was once used to track low-income students off to work while wealthier kids went to college. But advocates for today's career and technical education say things have changed, and graduates of vocational programs may have the advantage over graduates of traditional high schools.
Teachers in Reno, Nevada, were skeptical of the Common Core at first. But they have embraced the new standards as a way to bring better education to students who are struggling in school — and to kids who are ahead.
New York teacher Kevin Glynn was once a big fan of the Common Core, but he says the standardized testing that's come along with it is reducing students to test scores and narrowing what gets taught in schools.
New Common Core tests are supposed to measure students' ability to think critically, analyze information, and cite evidence as well as test their conceptual understanding of mathematics and their ability to apply math to the real world. See how you'd do on a Common Core test.
In the United States, education standards come with tests. Most students haven't been tested on the Common Core yet. But in one state where they have, the controversy is so intense that it's threatening to bring down the Common Core altogether.
The Common Core is a big change for public schools, but most Americans know little about it. Learn what Common Core is, where it came from, and why it's become so controversial.
The General Educational Development test (GED) is a second chance for millions of people who didn't finish high school. Each year, more than 700,000 people take the GED test. People who pass it are supposed to possess a level of education and skills equivalent to those of a high school graduate. Most test-takers hope the GED will lead to a better job or more education. But critics say the GED encourages some students to drop out of school. And research shows the credential is of little value to most people who get one.
Learning with a personal tutor is one of the oldest and best ways to learn. Hiring a tutor for every student was never a realistic option. Now, new computer programs can customize education for each child. But adding computers to classrooms isn't likely to help unless teachers are willing to change their approach to teaching.