'How degrading to a student to never be called on': Mom of elementary school child enraged by HISD

Lileana Pearson Image
Friday, September 15, 2023
HISD policy: Teachers can't call on students who are poor readers to read aloud in class
A mother of a student, who struggles with reading, was emotional at an HISD school board meeting when she told the board the reason her son was no longer called to read aloud in class.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A mother was moved to tears at HISD's school board meeting on Thursday night when she told the board the reason her child was no longer being called on to read aloud in class.

A mother named Melissa Ashland said her fifth-grade child, who is diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, struggles with reading. Additionally, she said she's concerned about an HISD policy that directs teachers to not call on students who are poor readers to read aloud in class.

"They work harder than any other kind in the class, and they should be applauded for this, not punished," Ashland said. "I'm deeply concerned with the new policy that Superintendent Mike Miles directed all HISD teachers to avoid 'letting poor readers read aloud in class.'"

Dr. Shannon Verrett with Texas Southern University is a visiting professor with the curriculum and instruction department. Verret said the policy is a red flag to him.

"If we really begin to limit what students with disabilities, struggling learners, or students that have English as a second language, if we limit their participation, it's almost as if we are saying we don't want them included in the general education classroom," Dr. Verrett said.

Ashland said her son wants to participate in class but now can't.

"How degrading to a student to never be called on or to be flat out told they can't be called on when they raise their hands," Ashland said.

"It impacts their own self-concept, their own self-awareness," Dr. Verrett said.

Miles said he would rather have a child read with one partner or use other methods than have a struggling student read to a whole class.

"Best practice is, if you're going to have students read in class, that you don't have poor or struggling readers read out loud to all the other kids," Miles said. "Lots of reasons for that including embarrassment of the student, but that doesn't mean they don't do oral reading."

Dr. Verrett said students who struggle with reading aloud should do it in a classroom setting with their peers. He said teachers should let proficient readers be patient and understanding, and there are a variety of ways to uplift and encourage struggling students.

"A teacher can almost pre-designate and pre-assign for struggling learners and students. You will read this particular passage because the teacher and the student are both confident in being able to read a particular passage. Again, this is more professional development and strategy as opposed to making a blanket statement that prevent all students from engaging in classroom instruction," Dr. Verrett said.

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