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

School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure
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
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Branding your district matters. This webinar will provide you with practical tips and strategies to elevate your brand from three veteran professionals, each of whom has been directly responsible for building their own district’s brand.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
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
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. school districts are using hybrid learning right now with varying degrees of success. Students and teachers are getting restless and frustrated with online learning, making curriculum engagement difficult and disjointed. While
Content provided by Samsung

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion A Road Map for Education Research in a Crisis
Here are five basic principles for a responsible and timely research agenda during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robin J. Lake
4 min read
Two opposing sides reaching out to work together
J.R. Bee for Education Week
School & District Management 1,000 Students, No Social Distancing, and a Fight to Keep the Virus Out
A principal describes the "nightmare" job of keeping more than 1,000 people safe in the fast-moving pandemic.
4 min read
Dixie Rae Garrison, principal of West Jordan Middle School, in West Jordan, Utah.
Dixie Rae Garrison, principal of West Jordan Middle School in West Jordan, Utah, would have preferred a hybrid schedule and other social distancing measures.
Courtesy of Dixie Rae Garrison
School & District Management A School Leader Who Calls Her Own Shots on Battling the Coronavirus
A charter school founder uses her autonomy to move swiftly on everything from classroom shutdowns to remote schooling.
3 min read
Nigena Livingston, founder and head of School at the URBAN ACT Academy in Indianapolis, Ind.
Nigena Livingston, founder and head of school at the URBAN ACT Academy in Indianapolis, makes swift decisions in responding to the threat of COVID-19 in her school community.
Courtesy of Nigena Livingston
School & District Management A COVID-19 Lull Gives Way to ‘Borderline Insanity’
When the number of cases started to rise steeply, a school community hammered out a routine. Then a basketball player tested positive.
3 min read
Andy McGill, K-12 assistant principal at West Liberty-Salem Local School District in West Liberty, Ohio.
Andy McGill, K-12 assistant principal at West Liberty-Salem Local School District in Ohio, includes coronavirus response among his administrative duties.
Courtesy of Andy McGill