Progressive Era Reading Instruction

The following examples of public school reports include descriptions of courses of reading study, including required texts, across the United States during the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s).

Report from the Utah Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1898

“The child’s progress is not determined by the number of words he can call, but his ability to get thought from what he reads. Do not, therefore, let pupils get the idea that pronouncing words is reading.”

Course of Study for the City Schools of Juneau, Alaska, 1915-16

“In reading, as in other subjects, require that the pupil stand on both feet in an erect attitude when reciting. A slovenly attitude of body betokens and fosters a slovenly attitude of mind.”

Reading in the intermediate grades, Dallas, Texas, 1926

“The days of uniform treatment of an entire grade are over. Now we realize that each pupil’s reading ability must be diagnosed and treated according to its need.”

New Castle, Pennsylvania Public Schools Course of Study: Reading, 1929

“From the beginning those who were directing this study endeavored to proceed with their work with a scientific attitude of mind. It was recognized that whatever entered into the curriculum of the school must stand the test of all available evidence concerning its validity…. The curriculum of a school system must always be subject to revision in light of educational research and advancing movements in civilization.”