Stephen Krashen says take the money from all that testing and put it into access to books for kids in low socio-economic areas. Not teachers and their teaching, not schools, not teacher education but poverty is the real cause of illiteracy. Kids from families with higher incomes have books. Access to books encourages reading. Lots of reading helps writing, spelling, grammar, and overall academic achievement.
The solution to kids with poor reading skills? Not decoding instruction, but access to books through school and public libraries. As Stephen has said in the recent YSL Advocacy conference, “When students are hungry, have serious health problems, and have not read much because of the absence of books in their environment, all the determination, hard work and inspired teaching in the world will be of little use.”