A new survey from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) finds low proficiency in African-American boys:

This slice of NAEP data shows just how stark the differences are: Urban black males without learning disabilities had reading and mathematics scores, on average, that were lower than white males nationwide with identified learning disabilities.

In response, John McWhorter advocates for the Direct Instruction method:

[A study in the 1970s found that the] Direct Instruction (DI) method of teaching reading – based on sounding out words rather than learning them whole (phonics), and on a tightly scripted format emphasizing repetition and student participation – was vastly more effective than any of the others. And for poor kids. Including black ones. ... The poor child, the popular wisdom tells us, needs freedom to move about the classroom, or Ebonics, or less soda, or more leafy green vegetables, or any number of things other than being taught how to sound out words and read. Distracted by the hardships in their home lives, surely they cannot be reached by just having the facts laid out for them the way lawyers' kids can be reached.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.