When it comes to teaching reading, most American schools prioritize skill acquisition over background knowledge. Students are asked to find the main idea of a passage without learning the background knowledge that the passage is discussing. However, research shows that background knowledge is more critical to reading comprehension than disembodied skills.

In This episode, host Nat Malkus talks to Natalie Wexler about her new book, where she argues that the knowledge gap is responsible for the achievement gap. He also talks to Ashley Berner, whose team at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy has developed a tool to help districts map the knowledge their curriculum gives students so they can close any gaps.

The Knowledge Gap: The hidden cause of America’s broken education system – and how to fix it | Natalie Wexler | Avery, 2019.

The Knowledge Map Project | Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy.

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