School & District Management Report Roundup

Lack of Proof Seen on Reading Text

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — September 16, 2008 1 min read

Houghton Mifflin Reading, a popular textbook for teaching literacy in the early grades, cannot be given an effectiveness rating by the What Works Clearinghouse because existing research provides insufficient evidence of its impact on student learning, according to a report released last week by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

The textbook is the latest of several widely used early reading series that failed to meet the rigorous review standards of the online clearinghouse, which evaluates data on educational programs and practices.

Last month, reports by the clearinghouse on Open Court Reading and Reading Mastery, as well as Breakthrough to Literacy—all products of the New York City-based McGraw-Hill Cos.—contended that no studies that met the clearinghouse’s rigorous review requirements.

The latest review looked at nine studies of Houghton Mifflin Reading between 1985 and 2007. The text is one of just two approved for use in California elementary schools, and is used across the country.

Six of the studies on the program had the necessary experimental design to be included in the review, but they either did not have sufficient information about the comparison group or there were “confounding factors” that made it impossible to determine the effect of the program on student outcomes, the new report says. Another study was rejected because it did not have an equivalent comparison group, while two others did not have sufficient information on the ages or grade ranges of students being studied.

Company Defends Product

The publisher, based in Boston, said the findings do not reflect the program’s success.

“For over a decade, the Houghton Mifflin Reading series have boosted student reading ability and achievement in schools throughout the nation,” spokesman Rick Blake wrote in an e-mail. “We believe the results in the classroom speak for themselves.”

The report is part of a series of reviews on beginning reading programs that the clearinghouse began releasing last year. Only a handful of the dozens of programs the clearinghouse studied were determined to have any positive effects on student learning. Those results have led many reading research experts to question the usefulness of the reviews.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 17, 2008 edition of Education Week

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
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
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
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
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

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 Most Schools Offer at Least Some In-Person Classes, According to Feds' Latest Count
A majority of 4th and 8th graders had at least some in-person schooling by March, but inequities persisted.
3 min read
Image shows empty desks in a classroom.
Chris Ryan/OJO Images
School & District Management Opinion Education Researchers Should Think More About Educators: Notes From AERA
Steve Rees, founder of School Wise Press, posits AERA reflects a community of researchers too focused on what they find interesting.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management What the Research Says High Costs, Outdated Infrastructure Hinder Districts' Air-Quality Efforts
A national survey finds the pandemic has led districts to update schools' ventilation systems, but their options are limited.
3 min read
Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, checks the movement of a window inside a classroom at Bronx Collaborative High School, during a visit to review health safeguards in advance of schools reopening on Aug. 26, 2020, in New York.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, checks the movement of a window inside a classroom at Bronx Collaborative High School, during a visit to review health safeguards in advance of schools reopening earlier this school year.
Bebeto Matthews/AP
School & District Management Districts Are Spending Millions on ‘Unproven’ Air Purifiers
Schools are buying technology that academic air-quality experts warn can lull them into a false sense of security or even harm kids.
Lauren Weber, Kaiser Health News & Christina Jewett, Kaiser Health News
13 min read
A student listens to a presentation in Health class at Windsor Locks High School in Windsor Locks, Conn. on March 18, 2021.
A student listens to a presentation in health class at Windsor Locks High School in Windsor Locks, Conn.
Jessica Hill/AP