Don’t Buy SoR Propaganda APM Reports Is Selling

American Public Media Group announced in June “that APM Reports has been targeted for an unspecified reorganization.” Those of us in literacy, specifically the field of reading, have been highlighting since 2018 that APM Reports (specifically the work of Emily Hanford) has been misrepresenting both the problems around reading achievement and how to teach reading.

Hanford and APM Reports are ground zero for the deeply flawed “science of reading” (SoR) movement that now pervades mainstream media.

Ironically, the SoR mantra has been very valuable for mainstream media and several journalists, like Hanford, who have beat the same drum for four years, regardless of ample evidence that their messages are oversimplified, misleading, cherry picked, and lacking the very scientific evidence they demand from teachers.

Yet, it appears APM Reports is shifting its SoR propaganda cashcow to podcasts, and the next one, Sold a Story, will launch even more attacks, focusing on reading programs.

Here is the short version: Don’t buy it.

While not only APM Reports (the SoR messaging has been uniformly misleading across mainstream media), a tremendous amount of the misinformation can be attributed to the messaging there and then journalists such as Hanford getting platforms at the New York Times, for example, which is a key representation of the misinformation.

See the jumbled coverage of NAEP scores from 2019, falsely announcing a Mississippi “miracle”: Mississippi Miracle, Mirage, or Political Lie?: 2019 NAEP Reading Scores Prompt Questions, Not Answers [Update 15 February 2022].

The media coverage at APM Reports (and Education Week) has been so deeply flawed, scholars have detailed the problems; I recommend this:

Hoffman, J.V., Hikida, M., & Sailors, M. (2020). Contesting science that silences: Amplifying equity, agency, and design research in literacy teacher preparation. Reading Research Quarterly, 55(S1), S255-S266.

The passage addressing media is here:

I also recommend this book:

Afflerbach, P. (2022). Teaching readers (not reading): Moving beyond skills and strategies to reader-focused instruction. The Guilford Press.

The passage addressing media is here:

While the podcasts do not drop until October, I predict they will be more of the same misinformation, a good bit of projecting (is profit really a disclaimer in the U.S.?), and another example of a key criticism offered by Hoffman, Hikida, and Sailors (2020) in Reading Research Quarterly: “the SOR community do not employ the same standards for scientific research that they claimed as the basis for their critiques.”

And thus, again, don’t buy it.


Thomas, P.L. (2022). The Science of Reading movement: The never-ending debate and the need for a different approach to reading instruction. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from

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