Teachers College of Columbia University says it is “dissolving” its Reading and Writing Project after more than 40 years. The project received national media criticism for how it taught teachers to instruct young children to read.
“Science of reading” advocates have said Lucy Calkins, the project’s founding director, didn’t properly emphasize phonics in her widely used programs.
Last Friday, Teachers College posted on its website that Calkins “stepped down” as the project’s director and that the project “will be dissolved,” with its staff and work shifting this academic year to a new “Advancing Literacy” unit. That unit is currently led by the project’s former senior deputy director. (Note: This article and headline have been updated from an earlier version to clarify that the discontinued project is based at Teachers College of Columbia University, not Columbia University.)
“TC is working to align the work of TC staff with the needs of school districts and changes in reading curriculum locally and nationwide,” the statement said. It also said Calkins is on sabbatical this academic year. Education Week reported the development Tuesday.
Calkins, who is tenured and remains the Robinson Professor in Children’s Literature, didn’t return Inside Higher Ed’s requests for comment Thursday.
In an email, a Teachers College spokesperson wrote, “This move will foster greater collaboration among the different evidence-based approaches to literacy at Teachers College, allowing us to have greater impact.”
On its website, Teachers College wrote that a “diversity of approaches, and TC’s commitment to supporting teachers and schools in different ways (e.g. research, academic programs, professional learning communities and development) has served the college well, but moving forward, TC wants to foster more conversations and collaboration among different evidence-based approaches to literacy.”
Calkins remains the founding director of Mossflower Literacy. Its website says it’s a think tank, curriculum developer and teacher training provider that was previously called the Reading and Writing Project Network.