School & District Management

Book on ‘Scientifically Based’ Reading Research to Debut

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — March 10, 2004 3 min read

Two staff members at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which has played a key role in disseminating reading research and informing policy decisions, have compiled a volume of essays to help educators weed through the rhetoric of “scientifically based” reading research and make their own decisions about how it can be used to improve instruction.

“The Voice of Evidence in Reading Research,” can be order for $29.95 from Brookes Publishing. Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The Voice of Evidence in Reading Research, which was to be released by the Baltimore-based Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. this week, features essays by 30 researchers, educators, and policy experts, including several members of the National Reading Panel and others aligned with the NICHD. In more than 400 pages, the authors describe what they deem to be sound research practices, outline the evidence on effective reading instruction, and explain the findings of the reading panel, which are outlined in the congressionally mandated group’s 2000 report.

“We felt that it was important to help teachers understand where we are coming from in terms of why we put such an emphasis on ‘scientific evidence,’” Peggy McCardle, the associate chief of the NICHD branch that subsidizes reading research, wrote last week in an e-mail to Education Week. Ms. McCardle edited the volume with Vinita Chhabra, a research scientist at the national institute.

“Schools are being asked under [the No Child Left Behind Act] to implement scientifically based reading research. ... So we felt they needed not only the information but ‘tools'—the knowledge of how research is done and how to decide what is trustworthy and what’s not,” Ms. McCardle said.

Panel Findings Explained

The volume includes sections on methods, evidence-based instruction, brain research, and the use of science in crafting reading policies.

In four of the 19 chapters, members of the National Reading Panel explain their findings on such matters as the teaching of basic skills, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Timothy Shanahan, the director of the Center for Literacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a panel member, rebuts criticism of the panel in great detail. For example, he notes that condemnation of the panel’s narrow focus on experimental studies—and not qualitative research—is unwarranted, given his own investigation that found a more inclusive review of the literature would have had little or no influence on the panel’s conclusions.

“The critics were often less interested in the practical implications of the NRP for teachers and schools than about some feared side effect, such as the impact the NRP might have on future research funding,” Mr. Shanahan writes. “The NRP report has generated a firestorm of controversy among critics who seemingly would like to prevent it from being used by teachers or policymakers.”

Tribute Included

Though the panel’s detractors have not yet seen the book, such passages and the adulation of G. Reid Lyon are bound to attract further criticism.

The book is dedicated to Mr. Lyon, the chief of the NICHD’s Child Development and Behavior branch. It includes a glowing tribute to Mr. Lyon, by Robert H. Pasternack, the former assistant secretary for special education who left his U.S. Department of Education post in January.

“Dr. Lyon has elevated the importance of teaching reading, and his courage to bring rigorous science into education has brought discussion about reading to its current emphasis on the need for teachers to use scientific, evidence-based, empirically proven practices,” Mr. Pasternack writes.

Authors’ royalties from the book will be donated to the Children’s Inn at NIH, which provides housing for children with rare, terminal, or life- threatening diseases, and their families, while they are being treated at the Bethesda, Md., campus of the National Institutes of Health.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Meeting the Moment: Accelerating Equitable Recovery and Transformative Change
Educators are deciding how best to re-establish routines such as everyday attendance, rebuild the relationships for resilient school communities, and center teaching and learning to consciously prioritize protecting the health and overall well-being of students
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion COVID-19 Ripped Through Our Emotional Safety Net. Here’s How My District Responded
Three years after overhauling its approach to student mental health, one California district found itself facing a new crisis.
Jonathan Cooper
2 min read
A young man stands under a street light on a lonely road.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion Students Need Better Connections. To Wi-Fi, Yes, But Also to Teachers
We have to fix our digital divide, but let’s not lose sight of the relationship divide, writes one superintendent.
Susan Enfield
2 min read
A teacher checks in on a remote student.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion Superintendents Have Weathered a Lot of Vitriol This Year. What Have We Learned?
The pandemic turned district leaders into pioneers, writes one superintendent. We had to band together to make it through.
Matthew Montgomery
2 min read
A person walks from a vast empty space towards a team of people.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion Critics Complain My District Doesn’t Really Need Relief Aid. If They Only Knew…
District expenditures have ballooned in the pandemic, but many critics expect the opposite. How can leaders set the record straight?
Theresa Rouse
2 min read
A business person convinces colleagues by presenting a plan.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images