May 12, 2023

Back To Basics

Back To Basics

The New York City Board of Education just announced it will overhaul how it teaches reading. Educators concluded that current methods haven’t worked well for many students. With reading scores down after the pandemic and students from disadvantaged backgrounds falling further behind, the schools are embracing three evidence-based methods to make sure all students can read.

New York City isn’t alone in its renewed focus on whether students are actually learning what they need to know to thrive—similar efforts are happening across the country. I have to give educators credit for seeing it was time for a change and trying a new approach. In the business world, it’s routine to track the success of our efforts and fine-tune how we get things done if we’re not hitting the mark. It’s encouraging to see educators embracing that mindset, given how much the science of learning has evolved in the past decade.

As an employer, I pay close attention to what happens at every level of the education system because it determines just how strong our talent pipeline will be. At Marcum, we devote tremendous resources to finding promising future accountants. Unfortunately, only students who have mastered the basics in elementary school and middle school will be able to take the more advanced classes in high school that position them for an accounting major in college. Educational gaps take many potentially talented accountants out of the running long before they might ever get started.

Knowing basic math is an obvious prerequisite for an accounting career, but many people don’t realize reading is just as important in our field. A student with weak reading comprehension skills simply won’t be able to get through the academic requirements to become a CPA or, upon graduation, be able to pore over a new tax law passed in Washington or a new IRS policy and communicate the implications for our clients. Reading is also the foundation for clear written communication, which is essential in a people business like ours.

I hope this new initiative will give more children the opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures of taking a book out of the library and getting lost in a great story. Many children have spent far too much time on their screens in the past few years, and now, with the world opening up, it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce them to other activities.

The jury is still out on whether this new program will help more children learn to read, but it looks like a step in the right direction. A lot was lost educationally during the pandemic, but a lot can be gained if we learn from the data that is now coming in. My hope is that with initiatives like this going on across the U.S., the broad talent pool we’ve tapped into in the accounting profession will get even bigger in the future.