National Reading Panel Findings on Reading Instruction

In 1997, Congress asked the NICHD, along with the U.S. Department of Education, to form the National Reading Panel to review research on how children learn to read and determine which methods of teaching reading are most effective based on the research evidence.

What are the findings of the National Reading Panel?

The National Reading Panel’s analysis made it clear that the best approach to reading instruction is one that incorporates explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, systematic phonics instruction, methods to improve fluency, and ways to enhance comprehension.

The following is a summary of the panel’s findings:

Concept

Description

Finding

Phonemic Awareness

Means knowing that spoken words are made up of smaller parts called phonemes. Teaching phonemic awareness gives children a basic foundation that helps them learn to read and spell.

The panel found that children who learned to read through specific instruction in phonemic awareness improved their reading skills more than those who learned without attention to phonemic awareness.

Phonics Instruction

Phonics teaches students about the relationship between phonemes and printed letters and explains how to use this knowledge to read and spell.

The panel found that students show marked benefits from explicit phonics instruction, from kindergarten through 6th grade.

Fluency

Fluency means being able to read quickly, knowing what the words are and what they mean, and properly expressing certain words – putting the right feeling, emotion, or emphasis on the right word or phrase. Teaching fluency includes guided oral reading, in which students read out loud to someone who corrects their mistakes and provides them with feedback, and independent silent reading where students read silently to themselves.

The panel found that reading fluently improved the students’ abilities to recognize new words; read with greater speed, accuracy, and expression; and better understand what they read.

Comprehension: Vocabulary instruction

Teaches students how to recognize words and understand them.

The panel found that vocabulary instruction and repeated contact with vocabulary words is important.

Comprehension: Text comprehension instruction

Teaches specific plans or strategies students can use to help them understand what they are reading.

The panel identified seven ways of teaching text comprehension that helped improve reading strategies in children who didn’t have learning disabilities. For instance, creating and answering questions and cooperative learning helped to improve reading outcomes.

Comprehension: Teacher Preparation and comprehension strategies instruction

Refers to how well a teacher knows things such as the content of the text, comprehension strategies to teach the students, and how to keep students interested.

The panel found that teachers were better prepared to use and teach comprehension strategies if they themselves received formal instruction on reading comprehension strategies.

Teacher Education in Reading Instruction

Includes how reading teachers are taught, how effective their methods of teaching reading are, and how research can improve their knowledge of teaching students to read.

In general, the panel found that studies related to teacher education were broader than the criteria used by the panel. Because the studies didn’t focus on specific variables, the panel could not draw conclusions. Therefore, the panel recommended more research on this subject.

Computer Technology in Reading Instruction

Examines how well computer technology can be used to deliver reading instruction.

Because few studies focused on the use of computers in reading education, the panel could draw few conclusions. But, it noted that all of the 21 studies on this topic reported positive results from using computers for reading instruction.

Source: http://reading.uoregon.edu/big_ideas/

To learn more about the National Reading Panel, visit: http://www.nationalreadingpanel.org/default.htm

Is Common Core Changing Reading Instruction?

Kathryn Starke is an urban elementary school reading specialist, literacy consultant, keynote speaker, and author of a multicultural children’s book, Amy’s Travels.

In 1998, my home state of Virginia developed the Standards of Learning, much to the dismay of students, parents, and educators who had been teaching a particular unit, theme, or objectives for many years. The SOLs, as they are often referred to, are a statewide curriculum created to ensure that all students receive the same instruction in the core subjects no matter what public school you attend in the Commonwealth. At the end of every school year, students in specific grade levels take statewide assessments to show what they have learned. Reading in particular is assessed starting in the third grade and throughout elementary, middle, and high school.

I learned everything about this new curriculum in college so as a first year teacher in Richmond Public Schools, I would be fully prepared to implement the SOLs in my second grade classroom. However, this change for veteran teachers was not so easy. In fact, the SOLs have added pressure to the lives of teachers in many schools due to the fact that the end of year tests results are often used to evaluate the classroom teacher’s instruction.

Common Core Standards:
A Teacher’s Blueprint

Have our state standards changed reading instruction? Yes. Has it been effective? Sure. Do the Standards of Learning still exist? Yes, in fact they have already been revamped to make more rigorous reading instruction in Virginia. I believe a similar transformation will be seen nationally with the common core curriculum.

Think of the language arts common core standards as your blueprint, while you, the classroom teacher, is responsible for meeting this standard by selecting books and developing lessons that motivate, engage, and educate your boys and girls.

It is wonderful that all children will be exposed to the same instructional objectives throughout the nation. It is important that teachers remember to be their creative and innovative professionals by making the standards work for your students. For example, we know that an elementary school community in Miami, Florida will not look exactly like one in Lincoln, Nebraska. While both third grade teachers may be required to use more nonfiction text to initiate close reading and deeper comprehension, each teacher must select a text or topic that matches the interests and backgrounds of his or her own students.

Teaching our students the strategies behind reading and how to think about a text will certainly change reading instruction in a positive manner. Encouraging our students to make connections, predict, reflect, analyze, and form opinions before, during, and reading a text is empowering and can be done with a variety of texts and through mini lessons from kindergarten to twelfth grade. As teachers, we are the leaders in our classroom and are responsible for our students’ learning. The common core standards may create a new style of teaching and new form of learning, but it’s how we implement these standards with our twenty-something students that will determine the change.

sitepicAbout Kathryn Starke
A native of Richmond Virginia, Kathryn graduated from Longwood University with a BS degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in Literacy and Culture. She has taught first, second, and third grade and served as a literacy specialist for a decade in inner city/Title I schools in Richmond, Virginia.

Visit her website: www.creativemindspublications.com