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What the Research says about Reading
“The National Reading Panel defines phonemic awareness as “the ability to focus on and manipulate phonemes in spoken words”, and continues with a list of tasks through which it is commonly practiced or assessed…Many educators have adopted this definition of phonemic awareness. Since the National Reading Panel’s charge was to identify scientifically based instructional practices, this is understandable. But hold it: The National Reading Panel’s task, more specifically, was to determine which instructional practices yielded statistical gains that were robust across soundly designed, peer-reviewed, experimental studies. Given this, it was essential that the panel define phonemic awareness in terms of its quantitative measurement. Yet assessing phonemic awareness is not the same as teaching it.” (Adams, M.J., 2011)
“The automaticity of recognizing a word or word part depends on securing strong connections not just between its spelling and pronunciation but also between its spelling/pronunciation and its meaning and usage.” (Adams, M.J., 2011)
“…those who have not mastered the graphophonemic foundations of English or whose reading is halting or unexpressive are among those perceived as endangered readers. However, as this brief development portrait has suggested, adolescents face literacy challenges not confined by those often- discussed literacy pillars (Alexander, 2006; Alvermann, 2002). Those who do not have a basic conceptual knowledge in history, mathematics, science, or other academic domains; those who do not have the requisite strategies to cope with the increasingly abstract concepts or complex content; those whose self-concept as a reader is based on perceptions of reading as schoolish; and those who have no heart to read or the will to engage—all belong to the ranks of the struggling adolescent reader.” (Alexander & Fox, 2006)
“Research confirms that exemplary teachers who produce high-achieving readers and writers tend to integrate the two domains regularly and thoroughly in the classroom.”
(e.g., Knapp, 1995; Morrow, Tracey, Woo, & Pressley, 1999; Pressley, Yokoi, Rankin, Wharton-MacDonald, & Mistretta, 1997; Thomas &Barksdale-Ladd, 1995; Wharton-MacDonal, & Pressley, & Hampston, 1998)
“…fluency is the ability to decode words in text accurately and automatically and to read with prosody—thus indicating that comprehension is simultaneously occurring.” (Rasinski, 2010)
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“Whether prosodic reading precedes or is a result of comprehension has not been determined. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to expect that when a reader is provided instruction in reading with appropriate expression, the focus must be on the making of meaning with one’s voice.”
“This overemphasis on reading rate has led students to think of proficient reading as fast reading. The increase in reading rate norms over the past decade for both proficient and less proficient readers, with little accompanying increase in reading comprehension or overall reading proficiency, is evidence of this singular emphasis.” (Rasinski, 2006; Samuels, 2007).
“To avoid promising, but ineffective, approaches to improving achievement, the first quality to look for in teaching practices is whether they explicitly include extended behavioral engagement or dedication. In other words, does the practice involve the students in high amounts of time and effort in reading activity? For the “high amounts of time,” we are referring to weeks and months, not minutes and hours.” (Guthrie, 2008)
“Partly because of the push for evidence-based practice in teaching reading— and of the growth in studies of word reading—there can be a tendency in the primary grades to focus nearly exclusively on decoding and code-based skills, especially in special education classrooms and in high-poverty schools where the knowledge gap is widest (e.g., Duke, 2000; Klingner, Urbach, Golos, Brownell, & Menon, 2010; Neuman, 2006). Even when comprehension instruction is included, it is often very shallow.” (Klingner et al., 2010)
“While it is true that code-based skills have the largest influence on reading performance in the early grades, the evidence we have reviewed highlights the importance of focusing also on language comprehension, even in the early years.” (Adlof, Perfetti, & Catts, 2010)
“The influence of language skills on reading comprehension is observable throughout all grades, and language skills are the strongest predictor of comprehension in the later grades.” (Adlof, Perfetti, & Catts, 2010)
“…Bus and van IJzendoorn (1999) demonstrated that kindergarten phonological awareness accounts for less than 1% of the variance in reading achievement at fourth grade. In other words, there are a number of other factors that are far more influential as children mature (Pressley & Allington, 1999). Simply put, it seems that most children develop adequate phonological awareness as they acquire literacy proficiency (Allington, 1997; International Reading Association, 1998).
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“The effectiveness of interventions that target phonological representation through speech activities declines sharply once exposure to print has begun.” (Harm, 2004)
“Whole language and traditional phonics instruction both have serious limitations. Neither approach has been successful in teaching all children to read even though both approaches claim to be the one best size for all.” (Tunmer & Nicholson, 2010)
“Each method in itself is too restrictive but within both methods we have the seeds of an even better one. This new method would not be whole language or phonics. What it would do is enable teachers to draw on the key elements of both approaches to provide instruction that best suits the needs of individual children.” (Tunmer & Nicholson, 2010)
“Whole language provides plenty of opportunity for children to read but is weak on teaching the alphabetic principle.” (Tunmer & Nicholson, 2010)
“Likewise, phonics gives lots of practice in learning the alphabetic principle but does not provide much opportunity for putting the alphabetic principle into practice through actual reading of text.” (Tunmer & Nicholson, 2010)
“Gough (1996) also criticized traditional phonics programs for being overly teacher-centered and having a curriculum that is typically rigid, fixed, and lock-step, with the same lesson given to every child.” (Tunmer & Nicholson, 2010)
“…three expert panels (reported in Darling-Hammond, 1997; NICHD, 2000; Snow et al., 1998) have weighed the research evidence and concluded that method and materials are neither the locus of the problem many children face in their efforts to acquire literacy proficiency nor the panacea for addressing it, perhaps we can focus political and professional attention on designing and funding educational efforts that just might deliver on the promise of all children being readers and writers.” (Adlof, Perfetti, & Catts, 2010)
“Several research-based examples highlight the limitations of using the results of summative tests to inform classroom instruction.” (Valencia, 2010)
“Norm-referenced tests, for example, are designed to be used across many different states, each with its own unique set of content standards. Consequently, summative assessment can only sample the standards in a very general and superficial way, making the test fairly insensitive to curriculum and instruction.” (Linn, 1986, 2000; Popham, 2001)
“…items that spread student scores in a normative way, as is required on norm- referenced tests, tend to be those most closely aligned with socioeconomic
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status instead of classroom instruction (Popham, 2008). The same problem exists with state standards-based assessments.” (Valencia, 2010)
“Even if summative tests, whether norm-referenced or standards-based, were to be augmented with some items that covered more of the standards, the information would not be useful. From a measurement perspective, results that are based on a few test items, even those clustered in a subscore, generally cannot provide reliable, trustworthy information to inform instruction (Linn, 1986). So, practices such as charting specific items on which students did poorly and then targeting instruction narrowly to these items or their corresponding standards is not a reliable way to identify students’ needs. This is particularly true when analyzing reading comprehension subareas such as sequencing, summarizing, cause and effect, literal comprehension, and inferential comprehension are not independent from one another (Bruce, Osborn, & Commeyras, 1994; Davis, 1944).”
“…Buly and Valencia found that fourth-grade students who had similar failing scores on a state reading test had a range of abilities in the areas of decoding, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Some of the fourth-grade students had beginning-level decoding skills, while others had word skills typical of ninth-grade readers; some had difficulty with vocabulary, while others did not; and some read very slowly with excellent decoding and comprehension, while other slow readers demonstrated difficulty with decoding and comprehension. Considering this variability, it is easy to understand why assigning all poor readers or all good readers to the same intervention program based solely on summative test scores is likely to produce mixed results, and individual students’ reading needs would not be met.” (Valencia, 2010)
“Just because it’s labeled formative assessment doesn’t make it so.” (Shepard, 2009)
“These oral reading CBMs were never intended to be direct measures of comprehension or align with instruction; they simply correlated with comprehension. In addition, oral reading CBMs were not intended to measure fluency, nor were they originally labeled “oral reading fluency”; they were simply called “general outcome measurement” to indicate they were measuring overall reading ability. Thus, measures of oral reading fluency most closely fit the predictive purpose of interim assessments rather than instructional or evaluative purposes.” (Valencia, 2010)
“Results indicate a small to moderate relationship between parent involvement and student achievement, with an overall effect size of about 0.25.” (Paratore, 2010)
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“What started in 1964 as ensuring equity and access became something more—equity, access, and quality—during the 1980s, with the publication of A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. For the first time, quality was sought beyond basic skills, because reading achievement was seen as in need of improvement.” (Long & Seldon, Reading Research: 1970-1990)
“When the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1989) issued its set of standards, it chose to define how research would be applied to instruction in the classroom…By the mid-1990s, it was clear that the standards movement in and of itself was not going to make the big impact that many had hoped.” (Long & Seldon, Reading Research: 1990-2000)
“The National Reading Panel had been commissioned, and it looked at research studies of early reading. The panel stated that reading consisted of five critical elements: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, and comprehension. These elements became the most specific set of recommendations to be published by a federally supported panel and was used to retool Reading Excellence into Reading First with the concept of scientifically based reading research…Now, reading research was being used to decide what type of reading instruction would be supported.” (Long & Seldon, Reading Research: 2000-2010)
This document was prepared by
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Adams, M. (2011). The Relation Between Alphabetic Basics, Word Recognition, and Reading. In S. Samuels, & A.E. Farstrup (Eds.), What Research Has to Say About Reading Instruction (Fourth Edition) (pp. 4-24). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Adlof, S.M., & Catts, H.W. (2007, November). Classification of children with poor reading comprehension. Paper presented at the annual convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Boston, Massachusetts.
Adlof, S.M., Catts, H.W., & Lee, J. (2010). Kindergarten predictors of secon versus eighth grade reading comprehension impairments. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(6), 332-345. Doi:10.1177/s11145-006-9024-z
Alexander, P.A. (2006). The path to competence: A lifespan developmental perspective on reading. Journal of Literacy Research, 37, 413-436.
Allington, R.L. (2006). What really matters for struggling readers: Designing research- based programs (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Bruce, B.C., Osborn, J., & Commeyras, M. (1994). The content and curricular validity of the 1992 NAEP reading framework. In R. Glaser, R. Linn, & G. Bohrnstedt (Eds.), The trial state assessment: Prospects and realities: Background studies (pp. 187-216). Stanford, CA: National Academy of Education.
Davis, F.B. (1944). Fundamental factors of comprehension in reading. Psychometrika, 9(3), 185-197. Doi:10.1007/BF02288722
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Guthrie, J.T. (Ed.). (2008). Engaging adolescents in reading. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
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Klingner, J.K., Urbach, J., Golos, D., Brownell, M., & Menon, S. (2010). Teaching reading in the 21st century: A glimpse at how special education teachers promote reading comprehension. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(2), 59-74.
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Knapp, M.S. (with Adelman, N.E., Marder, C., Mc-Collum, H., Needels, M.C., Padilla, C., et al.). (1995). Teaching for meaning in high-poverty classrooms. New York: Teachers College Press.
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Rasinski, T. V., & Hoffman, J. V. (2003). Oral reading in the school reading curriculum. Reading Research Quarterly, 38, 510–522.
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Tunmer, W.E., & Chapman, J.W. (2002). The relation of beginning readers’ reported word identification strategies to reading achievement, reading-related skills, and academic self-perceptions. Reading and Writing, 15, 341-358.
Special Note: Information contained in this document will be updated periodically to reflect new insights about literacy, literacy instruction, and research-based interventions proven to work in the areas of early learning, pre-adolescent and adolescent, as well as post-secondary literacy learning.