Education Letter to the Editor

Another ‘Urban Legend’: Scripted-Program Flaws

February 15, 2005 1 min read

To the Editor:

How ironic that in her essay on dispelling myths (“Urban Mythbusters,” Jan. 12, 2005), Nina Zolt promotes one of the most widespread “urban legends”: that scripted programs cannot be used to impart higher-order thinking skills. She implies that teachers using scripted programs are incapable of teaching the 21st century’s essential skills—“reading closely, thinking critically, and communicating orally and in writing.”

Perhaps Ms. Zolt is unaware of the numerous direct-instruction programs that, in fact, address these essential skills in an efficient and effective manner. These programs have been field-tested, studied in comparative settings, revised based on feedback, and used successfully in schools across the country. The programs give teachers powerful tools to teach key concepts and critical skills to the whole range of student learners. Because they are scripted, they allow teachers to focus on student performance and addressing students’ needs, rather than inventing examples and instructional language.

A pen-pal relationship is a fine way for students to apply skills they have already mastered. But to think that it can replace effective instruction or overcome poor instruction in the classroom is a myth of metropolitan proportions.

Kurt E. Engelmann


National Institute for

Direct Instruction

Eugene, Ore.

A version of this article appeared in the February 16, 2005 edition of Education Week as Another ‘Urban Legend’: Scripted-Program Flaws