Despite Bo Hewey’s statements in his May 11 column (“Teaching reading much more than a matter of rules and tests”), there is an extensive research literature concerning effective reading instruction in English and other languages.

This research goes back over 100 years and key publications include the Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading by Edmund Huey (1908), Learning to Read: The Great Debate by Jeanne Chall (1967), Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print by Marilyn Adams (1990), and countless others.

In 2000 the National Reading Panel published a summary of the extant research and developed guidance for classroom teachers about effective reading instruction practices. Research conducted since 2000 had continued to validate the NRP findings. Importantly, the instructional practices which have been well supported with research findings have been found to be effective for learners from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Effective reading instruction includes systematic and sequential interactions between students and teachers covering phonemic awareness, the alphabetic principle, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Sadly, many teacher preparation programs do not have these instructional components included in the courses that future teachers must take.

The good news is that there is now national attention to the need for ensuring that all classroom teachers are well-prepared to teach reading using scientifically-validated practices. The National Research Council has recently published Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy (2010). This book provides a summary of the scientific research concerning effective teaching practices and how teacher preparation programs can integrate such practices into their courses.

There is a long and well-established body of scientific research which describes effective reading instruction practices. We must ensure that teachers know about and use these practices.


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