Put Reading First

The Research Building Blocks for
Teaching Children to Read

Kindergarten Through Grade 3

Put Reading First:

The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read

This publication was developed by the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA) and was funded by the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) through the Educational Research and Development Centers Program, PR/Award Number R305R70004, as administered by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education. However, the comments or conclusions do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of NIFL, OERI, or the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

Writers
Bonnie B. Armbruster, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Fran Lehr
Jean Osborn, M. Ed., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Editor
C. Ralph Adler, RMC Research Corporation

Designer
Diane Draper, RMC Research Corporation

Photographer
Richard O'Rourke

The writers and editors express their sincere thanks to
Isabel Beck, Douglas Carnine, Deborah Simmons, and Anne Sweet for their careful reviews and suggestions

Sandra Baxter and Andrew Hartman at the National Institute for Literacy for their guidance and support

The Subgroup Chairs of the National Reading Panel for their thoughtful and thorough comments: Linnea Ehri, Michael L. Kamil, S.J. Samuels, Timothy Shanahan, and Gloria Correro

Susan Klaiber, Everett Barnes, and Douglas Hamman of RMC Research Corporation for their conceptual and editorial contributions

The teacher collaborative groups across the United States that provided valuable feedback

The principals, teachers, and students from Charles Fortes School, Pleasant View School, and Webster Avenue School in Providence, Rhode Island, and Emma G. Whiteknact Elementary School, East Providence, Rhode Island for allowing us to photograph them at work

September 2001


Contents

Reading Skills Pyramid  
Phonemic awareness
Phonics
Reading comprehension
Vocabulary,
Reading fluency.
Putting Reading First
Introduction
Phonemic awareness instruction
Phonics instruction
Fluency instruction
Vocabulary instruction
Text comprehension instruction
The National Institute for Literacy

The National Institute for Literacy (NIFL), an independent federal organization, supports the development of high-quality state, regional, and national literacy services so that all Americans can develop the literacy skills they need to succeed at work, at home, and in the community.

The Partnership for Reading

This document was published by The Partnership for Reading, a collaborative effort of the National Institute for Literacy, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the U.S. Department of Education to make evidence-based reading research available to educators, parents, policy-makers, and others with an interest in helping all people learn to read well. The findings and conclusions in this publication were drawn from the 2000 report of the National Reading Panel, Teaching Children to Read:An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction--Reports of the Subgroups.


Introduction

In today's schools, too many children struggle with learning to read. As many teachers and parents will attest, reading failure has exacted a tremendous long-term consequence for children's developing self-confidence and motivation to learn, as well as for their later school performance.

While there are no easy answers or quick solutions for optimizing reading achievement, an extensive knowledge base now exists to show us the skills children must learn in order to read well. These skills provide the basis for sound curriculum decisions and instructional approaches that can help prevent the predictable consequences of early reading failure.

The National Reading Panel (NRP) issued a report in 2000 that responded to a Congressional mandate to help parents, teachers, and policymakers identify key skills and methods central to reading achievement. The Panel was charged with reviewing research in reading instruction (focusing on the critical years of kindergarten through third grade) and identifying methods that consistently relate to reading success.

The Panel reviewed more than 100,000 studies. Through a carefully developed screening procedure, Panel members examined research that met several important criteria:

These criteria are not new in the world of educational research; they are often used as a matter of course by researchers who set out to determine the effectiveness of any educational program or approach. The National Reading Panel embraced the criteria in its review to bring balance to a field in which decisions have often been made based more on ideology than evidence. These criteria offer administrators, teachers, and parents a standard for evaluating critical decisions about how children will be taught to read. In addition to identifying effective practices, the work of the National Reading Panel challenges educators to consider the evidence of effectiveness whenever they make decisions about the content and structure of reading instruction programs. By operating on a "what works" basis, scientific evidence can help build a foundation for instructional practice. Teachers can learn about and emphasize methods and approaches that have worked well and caused reading improvement for large numbers of children. Teachers can build their students' skills efficiently and effectively, with greater results than before. Most importantly, with targeted "what works" instruction, the incidence of reading success should increase dramatically.

This guide, designed by teachers for teachers, summarizes what researchers have discovered about how to successfully teach children to read. It describes the findings of the National Reading Panel Report and provides analysis and discussion in five areas of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. Each section defines the skill, reviews the evidence from research, suggests implications for classroom instruction, describes proven strategies for teaching reading skills, and addresses frequently raised questions.

Our understanding of "what works" in reading is dynamic and fluid, subject to ongoing review and assessment through quality research. This guide begins the process of compiling the findings from scientifically-based research in reading instruction, a body of knowledge that will continue to grow over time. We encourage all teachers to explore the research, open their minds to changes in their instructional practice, and take up the challenge of helping all children become successful readers.

Susan B. Neuman

Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education
U.S. Department of Education
Former Director, the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement


Contents

Reading Skills Pyramid  
Phonemic awareness
Phonics
Reading comprehension
Vocabulary,
Reading fluency.
Putting Reading First
Introduction
Phonemic awareness instruction
Phonics instruction
Fluency instruction
Vocabulary instruction
Text comprehension instruction