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Better Reading

Apr 21, 2015



Better Evidence-based EducationREADINGWhat economic stimulus means for education reformInstitute for Effective Education

Phonics its the way its taught that matters Douglas and Lynn Fuchs on peermediated instruction

School of EducationCenter for Research and Reform in Education

What programs are likely to raise your students test scores?Visit the Best Evidence Encyclopedia (BEE)

www.bestevidence.orgl l l

Consumer Reports-style reviews of reading, math, ELL, and other programs Interviews with educators using researchproven programs Tools to support your improvement team

The Best Evidence Encyclopedia was developed by the Johns Hopkins University School of Educations Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education, and funded by the U.S. Department of Education to increase the use of evidence in education to improve student achievement.

School of EducationCenter for Research and Reform in Education

Unbiased and reliable information Empowering Educators with Evidence on Proven Programs

EditorialWElcomE to Better.

CONTENTSVolume 1, Issue 1 45 What works in teaching reading Robert Slavin 67 Beginning reading Yola Center 89 Preparing the generous reader Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar 1011 Struggling adolescent readers Don Deshler 1213 Preventing literacy failure Sue Burroughs-Lange

This magazine is dedicated to a revolutionary idea in education: Use what works. It is intended to help educational leaders and policy makers access the best in research-based practice, to help them make better decisions for students at all levels, from pre-kindergarten to middle and high school. The articles in Better are written to explain in plain English the state of the evidence behind informed practice in education. This first issue focuses on literacy in elementary, middle, and high schools. It has articles from some of the top reading researchers in the world. The articles do not always agree with each other, because research continues to evolve. But they are all rooted in rigorous research on what works in the teaching of reading. Better is created by the Institute for Effective Education at the University of York and by the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University. I hope you enjoy reading Better, and that it helps you to improve outcomes for students. Robert Slavin Director of the Institute for Effective Education Director of the Center for Research and Reform in EducationBetter: Evidence-based Education is published three times a year by the Institute for Effective Education, University of York, York, U.K., YO10 5DD University of York 2009 Phone: 410-616-2300 Email: [email protected] U.S. Editor: Theresa Norton U.K. Editor: Jonathan Haslam Writers: Jeannette Bollen-McCarthy, Beth Buckheit Design: Cambridge Publishers Limited The views and opinions expressed in Better are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of York, Johns Hopkins University, or our sponsors. Copies of Better are available online at


English Language Learners Margarita Caldern


Digital picture storybooks Adriana Bus


Peer-mediated learning Douglas and Lynn Fuchs

Robert SlavinDirector of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Effective Education at the University of York

margarita caldernProfessor and Senior Research Scientist at Johns Hopkins Universitys School of Education


Committed to evidence Jonathan Sharples

2223Adriana BusProfessor of Education and Child Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands

Washington corner Lauren Gibbs

Yola centerPreviously Associate Professor and now an Honorary Associate at Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia

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News Latest research

Annemarie Sullivan PalincsarJean and Charles Walgreen Professor of Reading and Literacy and a teacher educator at the University of Michigan

Douglas and lynn FuchsNicholas Hobbs chair in Special Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University in the US

Don DeshlerDirector of the Center for Research on Learning and the Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Special Education at the University of Kansas

Jonathan SharplesManager of Partnerships at the Institute for Effective Education at the University of York

Sue Burroughs-langeA Reading Recovery trainer/coordinator in the European Centre for Reading Recovery at the University of London Institute of Education

lauren GibbsSenior Federal Policy Analyst at the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University

spring 2009 Better: Evidence-based Education


Programs that work


Whatworks inteaching readingTheevidencepointstowardsthebenefitsofchanging dailyteachingpractices,writesRobert SlavinEvERy yEAR, bright and enthusiastic children enter kindergarten throughout the U.S. Whatever their backgrounds, these children fully expect to succeed in school. Their definition of success, the schools definition, their parents definition, and societys definition are all the same: success in elementary school primarily means success in reading. Everyone knows the importance of success in reading, and everyone knows that the quality of reading instruction children receive can mean the difference between success and failure. In light of the stakes involved, for children, and for society, youd imagine that there would be a great deal of research and development going on to identify effective reading programs and practices. Much research has in fact established the general outlines of what should be emphasized in reading: phonemic awareness (knowing how sounds become words), phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. Yet how much do we know about the actual programs available to teachers to help their children become successful and joyful readers?

Reading reform means investing in teachers, giving them effective tools and strategies to ensure that every child gets a firm phonetic base as well as strategies to comprehend all sorts of texts, to build fluency, to develop vocabulary and, most importantly, to love to readprovides easy-to-read, brief summaries of evidence on what works in education, as well as full reviews. We have completed reviews of beginning reading, upper elementary reading, and middle and high school reading, as well as a review of programs for struggling readers in the elementary grades. In order to be included in the reviews, studies had to meet a set of common-sense requirements: l Students using each innovative program had to be compared to children who used ordinary methods; l Students using each program had to be well matched with those using ordinary methods; l Measures had to be fair to all groups (not inherent to the innovative program); and l The programs had to be evaluated for at least 12 weeks, preferably a year or more. We examined all studies carried out since 1970 in all countries, as long as the reports were available in English. A total of 240 studies met our standards. Across the individual reviews, the findings fell into a consistent pattern. The highlights were these: Phonics is necessary but not sufficient for effective reading programs. Successfully evaluated programs almost all emphasized systematic, synthetic phonics, as the National Reading Panel recommended. However, many ineffective programs also emphasized phonics. Other aspects of the programs were also critical. Most of the textbooks and CAI (computer-assisted instruction) software have never been evaluated. However, across 24 studies of textbooks and 52 studies of CAI, it became clear that simply adopting a different book, curriculum, or CAI program made little difference in reading outcomes. What did make a difference was use of phonetically-focused programs and practices that train teachers to focus on building students motivation, active interactions, engagement, and thinking skills. For example: l Cooperativelearningmethods in which children work in pairs or groups of four to tutor each other in phonics skills, help each other learn study skills, and take turns reading to each other; l Metacognitivestrategyinstruction in which students are taught methods for understanding what they read, such as predicting what will happen next,

The Best Evidence Encyclopedia (The BEE)In order to find out what works in teaching reading, my colleagues and I at Johns Hopkins University created a set of systematic reviews of research on reading programs. These reviews are on a website called the Best Evidence Encyclopedia, or the BEE ( The BEE


Better: Evidence-based Education spring 2009


Programs that work

summarizing, making graphic organizers to represent key ideas, and so on; and l Classroommanagementandmotivation programs, which train and coach teachers in methods of organizing classrooms, effectively engaging all pupils, using time effectively, and having a rapid pace of teaching. For struggling readers, we found that phonics was particularly important, but again, it was not sufficient by itself. Here is what works best: l Phonics-focused,one-to-onetutoring. Tutoring programs that focus on teaching struggling readers to unlock the reading code have substantial effects on learning; l One-to-onetutoringbyteaching assistants. While the most effective tutoring methods use teachers as tutors, teaching assistants can also get very good results. Volunteers can also be effective tutors; l Small-groupremediationworkslesswell thanone-to-one. Remedial programs in which a teacher works with a group of three-to-six students can be effective, but these methods tend to be less ef