The simple view of reading is commonly presented to educators in professional development about the science of reading. The simple view is a useful tool for conveying the undeniable importance of both decoding and linguistic comprehension for reading. Research in the 35 years since the theory was proposed has revealed additional understandings about reading. The authors synthesize research documenting three of these advances: (1) Reading difficulties have a number of causes, not all of which fall under decoding and/or listening comprehension as posited in the simple view; (2) rather than influencing reading solely independently, as conceived in the simple view, decoding and listening comprehension (or in terms more commonly used in reference to the simple view today, word recognition and language comprehension) overlap in important ways; and (3) there are many contributors to reading not named in the simple view, such as active, self-regulatory processes, that play a substantial role in reading. Research showing that instruction aligned with these advances can improve students’ reading. The authors present their theory of the "active view of reading" as an expansion of the simple view.
The Science of Reading Progresses: Communicating Advances Beyond the Simple View of Reading
Duke, N.K., and Cartwright, K.B. (2021). The Science of Reading Progresses: Communicating Advances Beyond the Simple View of Reading. Reading Research Quarterly 56(S1), S25– S44. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.411
Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science, 2020: What Expert Teachers of Reading Should Know and Be Able to Do
Moats, Louisa C. (2020). Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science (2020): What Expert Teachers of Reading Should Know and Be Able to Do. Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers.
This 2020 update to the 1999 foundational report reviews the reading research and describes the knowledge base that is essential for teacher candidates and practicing teachers to master if they are to be successful in teaching all children to read well. Developed by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
SOLAR: The Science of Language and Reading
Pamela C. Snow, SOLAR: The Science of Language and Reading, Child Language and Teaching Therapy, August 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265659020947817
Research indicates that we should be successfully teaching 95% of children to read, yet, in reality, high rates of reading failure are common in western, industrialized nations. In large part, this reflects a failure to translate into practice knowledge derived from the scientific study of reading and reading instruction and, indeed, to the rejection in some circles of the notion that there is a science of reading, in the same way that there is a science of memory, learning, and cognition. The Science of Language and Reading (SOLAR) framework is a way of positioning oral language as a central driver of reading acquisition. The SOLAR framework is illustrated via the Language House schema, which considers the social-emotional contexts for language acquisition and reading instruction, alongside the ongoing development of prosocial interpersonal skills and mastery of sufficient language and reading skills by early adulthood to be able to function as part of the social and economic mainstream. Speech-language therapy has much to offer to the promotion of evidence-based early reading and writing instruction and support, given the linguistic nature of reading and the high comorbidity between language and reading difficulties and social-emotional disturbances in childhood and adolescence.
How the Science of Reading Informs 21st‐Century Education
, , , , , , , , , , , & (2020). How the Science of Reading Informs 21st‐Century Education. Reading Research Quarterly, 55(S1), S267– S282. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.352
The science of reading should be informed by an evolving evidence base built on the scientific method. Decades of basic research and randomized controlled trials of interventions and instructional routines have formed a substantial evidence base to guide best practices in reading instruction, reading intervention, and the early identification of at‐risk readers. The recent resurfacing of questions about what constitutes the science of reading is leading to misinformation in the public space that may be viewed by educational stakeholders as merely differences of opinion among scientists. In this article, the authors revisit the science of reading through an epistemological lens to clarify what constitutes evidence in the science of reading, and to offer a critical evaluation of the evidence provided by the science of reading. To this end, the authors summarize those things that they believe have compelling evidence, promising evidence, or a lack of compelling evidence. The authors conclude with a discussion of areas of focus that they believe will advance the science of reading to meet the needs of all students in the 21st century.
What Constitutes a Science of Reading Instruction?
Shanahan, T. (2020). What Constitutes a Science of Reading Instruction? Reading Research Quarterly, 55(S1), S235– S247. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.349
Recently, the term science of reading has been used in public debate to promote policies and instructional practices based on research on the basic cognitive mechanisms of reading, the neural processes involved in reading, computational models of learning to read, and the like. According to those views, such data provide convincing evidence that explicit decoding instruction (e.g., phonological awareness, phonics) should be beneficial to reading success. Nevertheless, there has been pushback against such policies, the use of the term science of reading by “phonics-centric people”, and their lack of instructional knowledge and experience. In this article, although the author supports pedagogical decision making on the basis of a confluence of evidence from a variety of sources, he cautions against instructional over-generalizations based on various kinds of basic research without an adequate consideration of instructional experiments. The author provides several examples of the premature translation of basic research findings into wide-scale pedagogical application.
Reading from paper compared to screens: A systematic review and meta‐analysis
Clinton, V. Reading from paper compared to screens: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Journal of Research in Reading, 13 January 2019.
The purpose of this systematic review and meta‐analysis is to consolidate the findings on reading performance, reading times and calibration of performance (metacognition) between reading text from paper compared to screens. Based on random effects models, reading from screens had a negative effect on reading performance relative to paper. Based on moderator analyses, this may have been limited to expository texts as there was no difference with narrative texts. The findings were similar when analysing literal and inferential reading performance separately. No reliable differences were found for reading time. Readers had better calibrated (more accurate) judgement of their performance from paper compared to screens.
The Unique Role of Early Spelling in the Prediction of Later Literacy Performance
Researchers examined the predictive value of early spelling for later reading performance by analyzing data from 970 U.S. children whose spelling was assessed in the summer following the completion of kindergarten. The word reading performance of most of the children was then tested after the completion of Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 4, and Grade 9. A computer-scored measure of post-kindergarten spelling was a significant predictor of later reading performance even after taking into account post-kindergarten phonological awareness, reading, and letter-sound knowledge and pre-kindergarten vocabulary. The results suggest that, by the end of kindergarten, spelling is more than just a proxy for phonological awareness and letter-sound knowledge. Given the information that spelling provides, it should be considered for inclusion when screening children for future literacy problems.
The cognitive foundations of learning to read: a framework for preventing and remediating reading difficulties
William E. Tunmer & Wesley A. Hoover (2019) The cognitive foundations of learning to read: a framework for preventing and remediating reading difficulties. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 24:1, 75-93, DOI: 10.1080/19404158.2019.1614081
This article presents an overview of a conceptual framework designed to help reading professionals better understand what their students are facing as they learn to read in alphabetic writing systems. The US National Reading Panel (NRP) recommended five instructional components for improving reading outcomes but presented these instructional components as a list without explicitly addressing their interrelations, either in terms of instruction or cognitive development. In contrast, the Cognitive Foundations Framework offers a description of the major cognitive capacities underlying learning to read and specifies the relationships between them. The central claim of this article is that what is needed to help intervention specialists achieve better outcomes is a clearly specified conceptual framework of the cognitive capacities underlying learning to read that provides the basis for an assessment framework that is linked to evidence-based instructional strategies for addressing the individual literacy learning needs of students.
Self-regulation and the development of literacy and language achievement from preschool through second grade
Lori E. Skibbe, Janelle J. Montroy, Ryan P. Bowels, and Frederick J. Morrison. Self-regulation and the development of literacy and language achievement from preschool through second grade. Early Childhood Research Quarterly (April 2018). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2018.02.005
This study found that children who demonstrated self-regulation earlier had higher language and literacy skills throughout preschool to second grade. More specifically, earlier self-regulation trajectories were associated with both higher levels and earlier development of both decoding and reading comprehension, but not faster development. Children with early self-regulation trajectories developed phonological awareness earlier than those with late self-regulation trajectories. Finally, children with early self-regulation trajectories had higher levels of vocabulary than children with intermediate trajectories, but did not differ on the rate or timing of vocabulary development. Findings point to the enduring and interconnected nature of self-regulation and children’s language and literacy development.
The Investing in Innovation Fund: Summary of 67 Evaluations
Boulay, B., Goodson, B., Olsen, R., McCormick, R., Darrow, C., Frye, M., Gan, K., Harvill, H., & Sarna, M. (2018). The Investing in Innovation Fund: Summary of 67 Evaluations: Final Report (NCEE 2018-4013). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
The Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund is a tiered-evidence program that aligns the amount of funding awarded to grantees with the strength of the prior evidence supporting the proposed intervention. One of the goals of i3 is to build strong evidence for effective interventions at increasing scale. The i3 program requires grantees to conduct an independent impact evaluation. This report, from the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), assesses the quality of the 67 i3 grant evaluations completed by May 2017 and summarizes the findings of the evaluations. The report found that 49 of the first 67 completed i3 grant evaluations were implemented consistent with What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards and 12 of the evaluations found a positive impact on at least one student academic outcome.
Structured Literacy and Typical Literacy Practices: Understanding Differences to Create Instructional Opportunities
Swerling, Louise Spear. Structured Literacy and Typical Literacy Practices: Understanding Differences to Create Instructional Opportunities (January 23, 2018). Teaching Exceptional Children: Volume: 51 issue: 3, page(s): 201-211. https://doi.org/10.1177/0040059917750160
A key feature of structured literacy (SL) includes, “explicit, systematic, and sequential teaching of literacy at multiple levels — phonemes, letter–sound relationships, syllable patterns, morphemes, vocabulary, sentence structure, paragraph structure, and text structure. SL is especially well suited to students with dyslexia because it directly addresses their core weaknesses in phonological skills, decoding, and spelling. If implemented in Tier 1 instruction and tiered interventions, SL practices may also prevent or ameliorate a wide range of other reading difficulties.
Ending the Reading Wars: Reading Acquisition From Novice to Expert
Castles, A., Rastle, K., & Nation, K. (2018). Ending the Reading Wars: Reading Acquisition From Novice to Expert. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19(1), 5–51. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100618772271
A comprehensive tutorial review of the science of learning to read, spanning from children’s earliest alphabetic skills through to the fluent word recognition and skilled text comprehension characteristic of expert readers. The authors explain why phonics instruction is so central to learning in a writing system such as English. They also review the research on what else children need to learn to become expert readers and considering how this might be translated into effective classroom practice. The authors call for an end to the reading wars and recommend an agenda for instruction and research in reading acquisition that is balanced, developmentally informed, and based on a deep understanding of how language and writing systems work.
What Research Tells Us About Reading Instruction
Rebecca Treiman, What Research Tells Us About Reading Instruction, Psychological Science in the Public Interest 2018, Vol. 19(1) 1. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100618772272
There have been many debates about how children should learn to read; those between proponents of phonics instruction and proponents of whole-language instruction have sometimes been so heated that they have been called the “reading wars.” What can psychological science tell us about the issues? Castles, Rastle, and Nation (2018) provide a wide-ranging review of how reading develops, from beginners to experts, and consider the implications of the research for how reading should be taught.
Invented spelling in kindergarten as a predictor of reading and spelling in Grade 1
This study evaluated whether the sophistication of children’s invented spellings in kindergarten was predictive of subsequent reading and spelling in Grade 1, while also considering the influence of well-known precursors. Children in their first year of schooling were assessed on measures of oral vocabulary, alphabetic knowledge, phonological awareness, word reading, and invented spelling; approximately one year later they were assessed on multiple measures of reading and spelling. The researchers found a direct line from invented spelling leading to improved reading scores at the end of first grade. The study suggests that invented spelling integrates phonological and orthographic growth and is a unique predictor of growth in early reading skills, over and above children’s alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness.
Literacy Achievement Trends at Entry to First Grade
Jerome V. D’Agostino, Emily Rodgers (March 1, 2017) Literacy Achievement Trends at Entry to First Grade. Educational Researcher Vol 46, Issue 2, pp. 78 - 89.
This nationwide study showed that children entering first grade in 2013 had significantly better reading skills than similar students had just 12 years earlier. Researchers say this means that in general, children are better readers at a younger age, but the study also revealed where gaps remain — especially in more advanced reading skills. In the four basic skills, low-achieving students narrowed the achievement gap with other readers. But in the two advanced skills — including actually reading text — the gap widened. The results also show that strategies to help preschoolers who are having trouble with language skills need to be adjusted.
Relationships Between Home Literacy Practices and School Achievement: Implications for Consultation and Home–School Collaboration
Nicole Lynn Alston-Abel and Virginia Berninger. Relationships Between Home Literacy Practices and School Achievement: Implications for Consultation and Home–School Collaboration. Journal of Psychological and Educational Consultation, p 1-26, May 23, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10474412.2017.1323222
In a 5-year longitudinal study of typical literacy development (Grades 1–5 or 3–7), relationships were examined between (a) parental responses to questionnaires about home literacy activities and ratings of children’s self-regulation at home, both completed annually by the same parent, and (b) children’s reading and writing achievement assessed annually at the university. Higher reading and writing achievement correlated with engaging in more home literacy activities. Parental help or monitoring of home literacy activities was greater for low-achieving than for high-achieving readers or writers. Children engaged more minutes per week in reading than writing activities at home, but parents provided more help with writing and reported computers were used more for homework than for school literacy instruction. Parental ratings of self-regulation of attention remained stable, but executive functions — goal-setting, hyperactivity, and impulsivity — tended to improve. Results are translated into consultation tips for literacy learning and best professional practices.
Kids & Family Reading Report
Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report. New York: NY.
This biannual survey explores the reading attitudes and experiences that most influence children's reading habits, including reading aloud at home, independent reading at school, presence of books in the home, and more.
Learning About Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know
Pomerance, L., Greenberg, J., and Walsh, K. (January 2016). Learning About Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know. Washingtobn, D.C.: National Council on Teacher Quality.
This report asserts that textbook publishers and authors are failing the teaching profession, students and the public by neglecting to provide our next generation of teachers with the fundamental knowledge they need to make learning “stick.” The report finds that out of 48 texts used in teacher-training programs, none accurately described fundamental evidence-based teaching strategies comprehensively. Only 15 percent had more than a single page devoted to evidence-based practices; the remainder contained either zero or only a few sentences on methods that have been backed up by the decades of scientific findings that exist in the field of educational psychology.
Examining Teacher Effectiveness Between Preschool and Third Grade
Herzfeldt-Kamprath, R. and Ullrich, R. (January 2016). Examining Teacher Effectiveness Between Preschool and Third Grade. Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress.
This report examines the consistency of children’s access to effective teachers between preschool and third grade—as well as how that access differs by a child’s race/ethnicity and socio-economic status — within three broad factors of teacher effectiveness: qualifications, attitudes, and environment. The analyses presented utilize two nationally representative data sets: the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort, or ECLS-B, and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11, or ECLS-K: 2011. Results support that the factors that contribute to effective teaching are inherently interconnected and typically accessed at lower rates by African American and Hispanic children, as well as children from low-income households. Furthermore, access to effective teachers varies between the prekindergarten year and the kindergarten through third, or K-3, grades because the standards, expectations, and supports for teachers are different for these two systems. The authors offer policy suggestions to improve Prer-K to Grade 3 alignment and access to quality teachers.
Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform
International Literacy Association (2016) Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform [White paper]. Newark, DE
The central tenet of the white paper is that classroom literacy instruction should be grounded in rigorous, peer-reviewed research — not politics, ideology, or speculation. Rather than settling on a specific reform strategy, the white paper offers frameworks for use in drafting or evaluating reform proposals. The frameworks address four key education sectors: literacy learning and teachers; schools and schooling; student support; and families and communities. For each sector, the white paper offers a list of research-validated approaches to literacy advancement, which is designed to function as a rubric to inform, refine, and assess reform proposals. In addition, each framework includes a detailed list of supporting sources to facilitate exploration into the underlying research base.
Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction: A Literature Review
Drummond, K., Holod, A., Perrot, M., Wang, A., Munoz-Miller, M., and Turner, H. (August 2016) Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction: A Literature Review. Washington, D.C.: American Institutes for Research. Prepared for: Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, U.S. Department of Education.
This literature review provides a summary of policies, programs, and practices that have the potential to help students sustain the positive effects of preschool as they progress from kindergarten through grade. The review focuses on two specific approaches: (1) preschool and K–3 alignment, and (2) differentiated instruction in kindergarten and first grade.
Girls, boys, and reading
Tom Loveless. How Well Are American Students Learning? Brown Center Report on American Education, March 2015, Volume 3, Number 4. The Brown Center on Education Policy, The Brookings Institution.
Girls score higher than boys on tests of reading ability. They have for a long time. This section of the Brown Center Report assesses where the gender gap stands today and examines trends over the past several decades. The analysis also extends beyond the U.S. and shows that boys’ reading achievement lags that of girls in every country in the world on international assessments. The international dimension — recognizing that U.S. is not alone in this phenomenon — serves as a catalyst to discuss why the gender gap exists and whether it extends into adulthood.
Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition
Scholastic (2015) Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition. New York: NY.
This biannual survey explores the reading attitudes and experiences that most influence children's reading habits, including reading aloud at home, independent reading at school, presence of books in the home, and more. Findings from the 2014 survey show that just over 1,000 children ages 6 to 17, only 31 percent said they read a book for fun almost daily, down from 37 percent four years ago. The report asks what makes children frequent readers, creating two models for predicting children's reading frequency-one each among kids ages 6–11 and 12–17-constructed through a regression analysis of more than 130 data measures from the survey. Across both groups, three powerful predictors that children will be frequent readers include: (1) the child's reading enjoyment; (2) parents who are frequent readers; and (3) the child's belief that reading for fun is important.
How Well Are American Students Learning? With Sections on the Gender Gap in Reading, Effects of the Common Core, and Student Engagement
Loveless, T. The 2015 Brown Center Report on American Education How Well Are American Students Learning? With sections on the gender gap in reading, effects of the Common Core, and student engagement (March 2015) Washington, D.C. The Brown Center on Education Policy, The Brookings Institution.
Part I of the 2015 Brown Center Report on American Education: Girls score higher than boys on tests of reading ability. They have for a long time. This section of the Brown Center Report assesses where the gender gap stands today and examines trends over the past several decades. The analysis also extends beyond the U.S. and shows that boys’ reading achievement lags that of girls in every country in the world on international assessments. The international dimension — recognizing that U.S. is not alone in this phenomenon — serves as a catalyst to discuss why the gender gap exists and whether it extends into adulthood.
Hemispheric specialization for visual words is shaped by attention to sublexical units during initial learning
Yoncheva, Y.N., Wise, J., and McCandliss, B. Hemispheric specialization for visual words is shaped by attention to sublexical units during initial learning, Brain and Language, Volumes 145–146, June–July 2015, pages 23-33.
This study investigated how the brain responds to different types of reading instruction. Results indicate that beginning readers who focus on letter-sound relationships, or phonics, instead of trying to learn whole words, increase activity in the area of their brains best wired for reading. To develop reading skills, teaching students to sound out "C-A-T" sparks more optimal brain circuitry than instructing them to memorize the word "cat." And, the study found, these teaching-induced differences show up even on future encounters with the word. The study provides some of the first evidence that a specific teaching strategy for reading has direct neural impact. The research could eventually lead to better-designed interventions to help struggling readers.
See this article about the research study: Brain wave study shows how different teaching methods affect reading development.
The Next Chapter: Supporting Literacy Within ESEA
Haynes, M. (August 2015). The Next Chapter: Supporting Literacy Within ESEA. Alliance for Excellent Education, Washington, D.C.
Noting that 60 percent of both fourth and eighth graders currently struggle with reading, this report urges the U.S. Congress to focus on students’ literacy development from early childhood through grade twelve as it works to rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). As part of a solution, the report highlights proposed federal legislation, the Literacy Education for All, Results for a Nation (LEARN) Act, which would encourage schools and educators to use research-based strategies to teach reading and writing within subject areas and across grade levels. In addition to its legislative recommendations, the report examines why students struggle to read and measures the success of other federal efforts to improve literacy, including Reading First and the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program.
Building Strong Readers in Minnesota
Lieberman, A., Bornfreund, L. Building Strong Readers in Minnesota: PreK-3rd Grade Policies That Support Children's Literacy Development (September 2015). New America Foundation: Washington, D.C.
An examination of state policies and local initiatives in Minnesota that aim to improve literacy outcomes for all students by shaping their learning trajectories from a young age. Intentional alignment of education systems from pre-K and into the early grades of elementary school — a ‘PreK–3rd grade’ framework — can help narrow opportunity and achievement gaps. In this report, the researchers explore how Minnesota’s early learning policies are helping or hindering the ability of school districts, schools, and teachers to ensure that all children are on track to read on grade level by the end of third grade.
From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth-3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers
Bornfreund, L., Cook, S., Lieberman, A., and Loewenberg, A. (November 2015) From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth-3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers. Washington, D.C.: New America Foundation.
This comprehensive report ranks states on 65 policy indicators in seven policy areas that promote strong literacy skills by the end of third grade. States are grouped into one of three categories that indicate the relative strength of their policies and programs across all seven policy areas combined and within each individual policy area. The report evaluates states’ third grade reading laws on eight criteria related to assessment, intervention, communication with parents, and retention. At the time of this report, only six states stand out due to their promising third grade reading laws: New York, Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, Utah, and Colorado.
The Multiple Roles of School-Based Specialized Literacy Professionals
International Literacy Association. (2015) The Multiple Roles of School-Based Specialized Literacy Professionals (Research Brief). Newark, DE: International Literacy Association.
This research brief identifies three distinct roles for school-based specialized literacy professionals: reading/literacy specialists, literacy coaches, and literacy coordinators/supervisors. While responsibilities often overlap across these roles, there are specific distinctions in terms of the primary emphasis and professional qualifications required to be effective in each role. The brief provides school administrators with guidance on how to define the role of each specialty and to clarify what type of literacy professional their schools may need to hire. The descriptions aim to help those hiring literacy professionals to better understand what skill set is required and which qualifications to look for in the hiring process. Further, the new definitions will support college and university teaching programs in developing curricula to better prepare teachers for these specific literacy positions.
Early Reading Proficiency in the United States
Early Reading Proficiency in the United States (2014) The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Children who are proficient readers by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and to be economically successful in adulthood. This KIDS COUNT data snapshot finds 80 percent of fourth-graders from low-income families and 66 percent of all fourth-graders are not reading at grade level. While improvements have been made in the past decade, reading proficiency levels remain low. Given the critical nature of reading to children’s individual achievement and the nation’s future economic success, the Casey Foundation offers recommendations for communities and policymakers to support early reading. Early reading proficiency rates for the nation and each state are provided.
The Joy and Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion
Bridges, L. (2014) The Joy and Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion. New York: Scholastic.
This summary of research and expert opinion highlights the importance of reading volume, stamina and independent reading and how that builds comprehension, background knowledge, vocabulary and fluency skills. The report also discusses the value of reader choice and variety in developing motivation and confidence; guided reading and interactive read alouds in schools; and reading aloud plus talk at home.
Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind
Kidd, D. C. & Castano, E. (2013) Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind. Science, 18 October 2013: 342 (6156), 377-380.
Theory of Mind is the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires and that these may differ from one's own beliefs and desires. The currently predominant view is that literary fiction — often described as narratives that focus on in-depth portrayals of subjects' inner feelings and thoughts — can be linked to theory of mind processes. The researchers in this study provide experimental evidence that reading passages of literary fiction, in comparison to nonfiction or popular fiction, does indeed enhance the reader's performance on theory of mind tasks — a set of skills and thought processes fundamental to complex social relationships and functional societies.
Is Retaining Students in the Early Grades Self-Defeating?
West, M.R. Is Retaining Students in the Early Grades Self-Defeating? (2012) Brookings Institution, Center on Children and Families.
Whether a child is a proficient reader by the third grade is an important indicator of their future academic success. Indeed, substantial evidence indicates that unless students establish basic reading skills by that time, the rest of their education will be an uphill struggle. This evidence has spurred efforts to ensure that all students receive high-quality reading instruction in and even before the early grades. It has also raised the uncomfortable question of how to respond when those efforts fail to occur or prove unsuccessful: Should students who have not acquired a basic level of reading proficiency by grade three be promoted along with their peers? Or should they be retained and provided with intensive interventions before moving on to the next grade? This paper looks at the background on grade retention, a case study of test-based promotion in Florida, and policy implications.
Third Grade Literacy Policies: Identification, Intervention, Retention
Rose, S. and Schimke, K. Third Grade Literacy Policies: Identification, Intervention, Retention (2012) Education Commission of the States.
This paper examines policies to promote 3rd-grade reading proficiency, including early identification of and intervention for struggling readers, as well as retention as an action of last resort. The authors outline case studies in both Florida and New York City, and identify decisions policymakers must consider as they implement policies around 3rd-grade literacy.
Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading
Graham, S., and Hebert, M.A. (2010). Writing to read: Evidence for how writing can improve reading. A Carnegie Corporation Time to Act Report. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.
This report published by the Alliance for Excellent Education finds that while reading and writing are closely connected, writing is an often-overlooked tool for improving reading skills and content learning. Writing to Read identifies three core instructional practices that have been shown to be effective in improving student reading: having students write about the content-area texts they have read; teaching students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text; and increasing the amount of writing students do.
Family and Neighborhood Sources of Socioeconomic Inequality in Children's Achievement
Sastry, Narayan, and A.R. Pebley. 2010. "Family and Neighborhood Sources of Socioeconomic Inequality in Children's Achievement." Demography, 47(3): 777-800.
Researchers examined family and neighborhood sources of socioeconomic inequality in children's reading and mathematics achievement using data from the 2000-2001 Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey. The researchers found no inequality in children's achievement by family income when other variables in the model were held constant. Mother's reading scores and average neighborhood levels of income accounted for the largest proportion of inequality in children's achievement. Neighborhood economic status appears to be strongly associated with children's skills acquisition.
PreK-Grade 3 Reading and Literacy Practices That Matter
Ryan, M. PreK-Grade 3: Reading and Literacy Practices That Matter. (2010). Education Commission of the States. New York, NY.
This snapshot of five recent research studies addresses reading and literacy in the early grades. Policy recommendations on practices that matter are included for each of the five studies.
Are Achievement Gaps Closing and Is Achievement Rising for All?
Chudowsky, N., Chodowsky, V., and Kober, N. (2009). State Test Score Trends Through 2007-08: Are Achievement Gaps Closing and Is Achievement Rising For All? Washington, DC: Center on Education Policy.
This report examines testing data from all 50 states to determine if achievement gaps between subgroups of students are narrowing. The report also looks at the achievement trends of subgroups of students at the elementary school level.
How to get recreational reading to increase reading achievement
Kamil, M. (2008). How to get recreational reading to increase reading achievement. In Y. Kim, V. J. Risko, D. L. Compton, D. K. Dickinson, M. K. Hundley, R. T. Jiménez, & D. Well Rowe (Eds.), 57th Yearbook of the National Reading Conference (pp. 31–40). Oak Creek, WI: National Reading Conference.
The conclusion from these studies is that recreational reading by itself has no effect on reading achievement — teachers and instruction are the critical variables in the relationship of recreational reading to reading ability. The current research provides a strong test of the notion that having students read a lot will produce reading achievement gains. This holds true for the entire range of measures used from alphabetics to comprehension. However, instruction can leverage recreational reading to produce some gains in reading achievement, most notably in fluency and comprehension. When recreational reading is encouraged in the context of improved instruction, there are improvements in fluency and comprehension, although not in vocabulary.
Using Research and Reason in Education: How Teachers Can Use Scientifically Based Research to Make Curricular & Instructional Decisions
Stanovich, P. J. & Stanovich, K. E. (2003). Using research and reason in education: How teachers can use scientifically based research to make curricular & instructional decisions. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Department of Education; and Department of Health and Human Services.
As professionals, teachers can become more effective and powerful by developing the skills to recognize scientifically based practice and, when the evidence is not available, use some basic research concepts to draw conclusions on their own. This paper offers a primer for those skills that will allow teachers to become independent evaluators of educational research.
Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind
Wright, P.W.D., Wright, P.D., Heath, S.W. Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (2003). Harbor House Law Press.
The No Child Left Behind Act is confusing to parents, educators, administrators, advocates, and most attorneys. In this comprehensive book, you'll find the full text of the No Child Left Behind Act with analysis, interpretation and commentary, advocacy strategies, tips, and sample letters.
Progress in Understanding Reading: Scientific Foundations and New Frontiers
Stanovich, Keith E. (2000). Progress in understanding reading: Scientific foundations and new frontiers. New York: Guilford Press.
From a nationally known expert, this volume summarizes the gains that have been made in key areas of reading research and provides authoritative insights on current controversies and debates. Each section begins with up-to-date findings followed by one or more classic papers from the author's research program. Significant issues covered include phonological processes and context effects in reading, the "reading wars" and how they should be resolved, the meaning of the term "dyslexia," and the cognitive effects and benefits of reading.
Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read
Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read (April 2000). National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and U.S. Department of Education.
In 1997, Congress asked NICHD, through its Child Development and Behavior Branch, to work with the U.S. Department of Education in establishing a National Reading Panel that would evaluate existing research and evidence to find the best ways of teaching children to read. The 14-member panel included members from different backgrounds, including school administrators, working teachers, and scientists involved in reading research. The report summarized research in eight areas relating to literacy instruction: phonemic awareness instruction, phonics instruction, fluency instruction, vocabulary instruction, text comprehension instruction, independent reading, computer assisted instruction, and teacher professional development. The National Reading Panel's analysis made it clear that the best approach to reading instruction is one that incorporates: explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, systematic phonics instruction, methods to improve fluency, and ways to enhance comprehension.
Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children
Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S., & Griffin, P. (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
In this report, we are most concerned with the large numbers of children in America whose educational careers are imperiled because they do not read well enough to ensure understanding and to meet the demands of an increasingly competitive economy. Current difficulties in reading largely originate from rising demands for literacy, not from declining absolute levels of literacy. In a technological society, the demands for higher literacy are ever increasing, creating more grievous consequences for those who fall short. The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked the National Academy of Sciences to establish a committee to examine the prevention of reading difficulties. Our committee was charged with conducting a study of the effectiveness of interventions for young children who are at risk of having problems learning to read. The goals of the project were three: (1) to comprehend a rich but diverse research base; and (2) to translate the research findings into advice and guidance for parents, educators, publishers, and others.
Why Reading Is Not a Natural Process
Lyon, G. Why reading is not a natural process (1998). Educational Leadership, 55(6), 14-18.
Nearly four decades of scientific research on how children learn to read supports an emphasis on phonemic awareness and phonics in a literature-rich environment. These findings challenge the belief that children learn to read naturally.
Literacy Instruction in Nine First-Grade Classrooms: Teacher Characteristics and Student Achievement
Wharton-McDonald, R., Pressley, M., & Hampston, J.M. (1998). Literacy instruction in nine first-grade classrooms: Teacher characteristics and student achievement. The Elementary School Journal, 99, 101-128.
Classroom observations and in-depth interviews were used to study 9 first-grade teachers from 4 districts who had been nominated by language arts coordinators as outstanding or typical in their ability to help students develop literacy skills. Based on observational measures of student reading and writing achievement and student engagement, 3 groups of teachers emerged from the original 9. The following practices and beliefs distinguished the instruction of the 3 teachers (2 nominated as outstanding, 1 as typical) whose students demonstrated the highest levels on these measures: (a) coherent and thorough integration of skills with high-quality reading and writing experiences, (b) a high density of instruction (integration of multiple goals in a single lesson), (c) extensive use of scaffolding, (d) encouragement of student self-regulation, (e) a thorough integration of reading and writing activities, (f) high expectations for all students, (g) masterful classroom management, and (h) an awareness of their practices and the goals underlying them. Teaching practices observed in 7 of the 9 classrooms are also discussed. The data reported here highlight the complexity of primary literacy instruction and support the conclusion that effective primary-level literacy instruction is a balanced integration of high-quality reading and writing experiences and explicit instruction of basic literacy skills.
Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children
Hart, B. and Risley, T. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experiences of young American children. Brookes Publishing Company
The landmark longitudinal study of parent-child talk in families. The researchers recorded one full hour of every word spoken at home between parent and child in 42 families over a three year period, with children from seven months to 36 months of age. Follow-up studies by Hart and Risley of those same children at age nine showed that there was a very tight link between the academic success of a child and the number of words the child's parents spoke to the child to age three. See summary ›
Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print
Adams, M.J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
This book reconciles the debate that has divided theorists for decades over the "right" way to help children learn to read. Drawing on a rich array of research on the nature and development of reading proficiency, Adams shows educators that they need not remain trapped in the phonics versus teaching-for-meaning dilemma. She proposes that phonics can work together with the whole language approach to teaching reading and provides an integrated treatment of the knowledge and process involved in skillful reading, the issues surrounding their acquisition, and the implications for reading instruction.
Learning to Read and Write: A Longitudinal Study of 54 Children From First Through Fourth Grades
Juel, C. (1988). Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of 54 children from first through fourth grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 243-255.
In this study, of particular concern were these questions: Do the same children remain poor readers year after year? Do the same children remain poor writers year after year? What skills do the poor readers lack? What skills do the poor writers lack? What factors seem to keep poor readers from improving? What factors seem to keep poor writers from improving? The probability that a child would remain a poor reader at the end of 4th grade if the child was a poor reader at the end of 1st grade was 0.88. Early writing skill did not predict later writing skill as well as early reading ability predicted later reading ability. Children who become poor readers entered 1st grade with little phonemic awareness. By the end of 4th grade, the poor readers had still not achieved the level of decoding skill that the good readers had achieved at the beginning of 2nd grade. Good readers read considerably more than the poor readers both in and out of school, which appeared to contribute to the good readers' growth in some reading and writing skills. Poor readers tended to become poor writers.
Matthew Effects in Reading: Some Consequences of Individual Differences in the Acquisition of Literacy
Stanovich, Keith E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 22, 360-407.
The Matthew Effects are not only about the progressive decline of slow starters, but also about the widening gap between slow starters and fast starters. In reading, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This report presents a framework for conceptualizing development of individual differences in reading ability that emphasizes the effects of reading on cognitive development and on "bootstrapping" relationships involving reading. It uses the framework to explain some persisting problems in the literature on reading disability and to conceptualize remediation efforts in reading.
Why Johnny Can't Read: And What You Can Do About It
Flesch, R. (reprint, 1986). Why Johnny Can't Read: And What You Can Do About It. New York: Perennial Currents.
The classic book on phonics — the method of teaching recommended by the U.S. Department of Education. Contains complete materials and instructions on teaching children to read at home.
Ways With Words: Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms
Heath, S.B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge University Press.
This book is a classic study of children learning to use language at home and at school in two communities only a few miles apart in the southeastern United States. 'Roadville' is a white working-class community of families steeped for generations in the life of textile mills; 'Trackton' is a black working-class community whose older generations grew up farming the land but whose current members work in the mills. In tracing the children's language development the author shows the deep cultural differences between the two communities, whose ways with words differ as strikingly from each other as either does from the pattern of the townspeople, the mainstream blacks and whites who hold power in the schools and workplaces of the region. Employing the combined skills of ethnographer, social historian, and teacher, the author raises fundamental questions about the nature of language development, the effects of literacy on oral language habits, and the sources of communication problems in schools and workplaces.
Learning to Read: The Great Debate
Chall, J.S. (1967). Learning to read: The great debate. New York: McGraw-Hill.
From Diane Ravitchs' tribute to Jeanne Chall, in the American Educator, Spring 2001:
In 1961, as the debate about how to teach reading continued, the Carnegie Corporation of New York commissioned Jeanne Chall, who was well established as a careful reading researcher, to review the controversy. Chall spent three years visiting hundreds of classrooms, analyzing research studies, and examining textbooks; she interviewed textbook authors, reading specialists, and teachers.
Chall found that studies of beginning readers over the decades clearly supported decoding. Early decoding, she found, not only produced better word recognition and spelling, but also made it easier for the child eventually to read with understanding. The code emphasis method, she wrote, was especially effective for children of lower socioeconomic status, who were not likely to live in homes surrounded with books or with adults who could help them learn to read. For a beginning reader, she found, knowledge of letters and sounds had more influence on reading achievement than the child's tested mental ability or IQ.
Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)
Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. https://www.oecd.org/pisa/
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students' reading, mathematics, and science literacy every three years. First conducted in 2000, the major domain of study rotates between reading, mathematics, and science in each cycle. PISA also includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies, such as collaborative problem solving. By design, PISA emphasizes functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of compulsory schooling. PISA is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries, and is conducted in the United States by NCES.
The Nation’s Report Card
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) — The Nation’s Report Card. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called The Nation’s Report Card, is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what students in public and private schools in the United States know and are able to do in various subjects. Since 1969, NAEP has been a common measure of student achievement across the country in mathematics, reading, science, and many other subjects. Depending on the assessment, NAEP report cards provide national, state, and some district-level results, as well as results for different demographic groups. NAEP is a congressionally mandated program that is overseen and administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. The National Assessment Governing Board, an independent body appointed by the Secretary of Education, sets NAEP policy.