A recent article, “Nonfiction Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills in New York City Schools,” by Anna M. Phillips on The New York Times website reports promising results from a three-year pilot reading program for primary grades that followed about 1,000 students at 20 New York City schools. The Core Knowledge program, a balanced literacy method, is based on a reading curriculum that emphasizes nonfiction texts rather than fiction. “The study found that second graders who were taught to read using the Core Knowledge program scored significantly higher on reading comprehension tests than did those in the comparison schools.”
Not only did the students outperform their counterparts in reading, but they also outperformed the comparison students in social studies and science knowledge. With so many elementary schools balancing their budgets by reducing science and social studies instruction, it appears that a balanced literacy method is an economical way to do both.