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Research Report

Beating the Odds in Teaching All Children to Read

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A study investigated school and classroom factors related to primary-grade reading achievement, using quantitative and descriptive methods. Fourteen schools across the United States with moderate to high numbers of students on subsidized lunch were identified as most, moderately, or least effective based on several measures of reading achievement. A combination of school and teacher factors was found to be important in the most effective schools. Significant factors included: (1) strong links to parents; (2) systematic assessment of pupil progress; (3) strong building communication; (4) a collaborative model for reading instruction, including early reading interventions; (5) time spent in small group instruction; (6) time spent in independent reading; (7) high pupil engagement; and (8) strong home communication. The most accomplished teachers were frequently observed teaching word recognition by coaching as children were reading, providing explicit phonics instruction, and asking higher level questions after reading. In all of the most effective schools, reading was clearly a priority at both the building and classroom levels.


Taylor, B., Pearson, P., Clark, K., & Walpole, S. (1999). Beating the odds in teaching all children to read. CIERA Report 2-006. University of Michigan: Ann Arbor.