Are Any Schools Using Research
to Improve Reading?
Suzanne Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw
Kilpatrick, publisher of EducationNews,
"Do you know of any school in the nation that has adopted
and used successfully the NIH research in reading? If so, have these
schools addressed the needs of kids in the bottom 20%?"
"Although advocates for children with disabilities and U. S.
Department of Education want to bring this into reality, it seems
that nothing is changing."
Sue Whitney , research editor for
Things are changing.
No Child Left Behind is attempting to address reading problems by
requiring states to use federal funds on research-based reading programs.
When Congress reauthorized NCLB in 2002, they added the legal definitions
components of reading instruction, scientifically
based reading research, and diagnostic
reading assessment to the law.
Great Definitions about Reading in No Child Left Behind)
Trained in Research Based Methods
Children at the bottom 20th percentile in reading cannot learn to
read when they are taught by teachers who are not trained to teach
These children need teachers who are trained in research based methods
and know how to teach the essential
components of reading instruction to a level of mastery for
each student. These teachers must also know how to tailor instruction
so it addresses each individual child's stage
of reading, not the child's grade or age level.
Colleges Do Not Prepare Teachers
Few, if any, teacher's colleges in the United States are training
teachers in even one research based method of reading
State teacher certification requirements do not require elementary
teachers or special education teachers to be trained in even
one research based method of reading instruction.
Training in Research Based Methods
The problem is not that the training is unavailable. Colleges, hospitals,
and clinics around the country offer training
in research based methods of reading instruction.
The problem is that school districts do not require the training
as a condition of employment. States do not require the training
as a condition of certification. Teachers colleges do not
require the training as a condition of graduation.
Taxpayers, parents, teachers, administrators, school board members,
and legislators who want better outcomes for students need to look
at the teacher training and certification process.
This system may have been adequate when we were satisfied to allow
30% of students go through school without learning to read.
Is the system doing a satisfactory job when less than 20 percent
of 12th graders are proficient in science and math? (these graphs
are from the U. S. Department of Education website)
on K-12 Education (1965-2005) and
Reading Proficiency of 4th Graders (click
for larger image)
of 12th Graders
Proficient in Math (<20%)
of 12th Graders
Proficient in Science (<20%)
system is not adequate if we expect to produce a literate workforce.
The system is not adequate if we expect to raise our abysmal school
system is not adequate when we have the knowledge and programs available
to teach virtually all children to read fluently at grade level.
Dr. Martha Thurlow, Director of the National Center on Educational
Outcomes testified before Congress about these issues:
"We know how to educate all children, including those with
disabilities if we have the will to do so. The question
is not whether students with disabilities can learn to proficiency
it is whether we have the will and commitment to make it
Congress has reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act (ESEA), the statute formerly known as No Child Left
Behind. The new statute, Every Student Succeeds Act, was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015.
Proficiency & Impact of NCLB
Here are links to two recent reports on reading proficiency in high
poverty schools and the impact of No Child Left Behind. They will
you an idea of what is changing, where, and to what degree. There
are more reports available - these are just two that I have handy.
the Black Box of High-Performing High Poverty Schools (February
2005) This study looks at a group of high- poverty, high-performing
schools in Kentucky to determine how they broke the pattern of low
achievement. The lessons from these schools can help other educators
who face similar challenges.
The Impact of
the No Child Left Behind Act on Student Achievement and Growth: 2005
Edition (April 2005) A national research project indicates that
student achievement has improved since No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
was implemented, but student growth has declined slightly. Unless
teaching and learning improves, schools will not reach the requirement
of 100 percent proficiency by 2014. The study also evaluated achievement
gaps among ethnic groups.
Meet Sue Whitney
Sue Whitney of Manchester, New Hampshire, works with families as a special education advocate and is the research editor for Wrightslaw.
In her column, Doing Your Homework, Sue writes about reading, research based instruction, and creative strategies for using education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools.
Sue's articles have been reprinted by SchwabLearning.org, EducationNews.org, Bridges4Kids.org, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys.
Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that was
published by Harbor House Law Press, Inc..
She also served on New Hampshire's Special Education State
Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities
Sue Whitney's bio.
© 2002-2020 by Suzanne Whitney.