School & District Management Report Roundup

Lack of Proof Seen on Reading Text

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — September 16, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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


Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!

Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

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 We’re Facing a Looming Crisis of Principal Burnout
Caught in the crosshairs of a pandemic and rancorous partisan battles, many principals have never been more exhausted.
David E. DeMatthews
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration of burnt-out leader.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty
School & District Management What Teachers Value Most in Their Principals
For National Principals Month, we asked teachers what they love most about their principals. Here's what they had to say.
Hayley Hardison
1 min read
Illustration of job candidate and check list.
School & District Management With $102 Million in Grants, These Districts Plan to Train Principals With a Focus on Equity
The new grant program from the Wallace Foundation will help eight school districts work on building principals’ capacity to address equity.
11 min read
Image of puzzle pieces with one hundred dollar bill imagery
School & District Management Opinion Toxic Positivity Has No Place in Schools
Educators can’t do everything, but we can do some things, writes district leader Cherisse Campbell.
Cherisse Campbell
4 min read
A teacher sits on her desk thinking in an empty classroom.
Joy Velasco for Education Week