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Research-Based Instruction

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Note: 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.

Research-Based Instruction has been replaced by "evidenced-based interventions" in ESSA.


Because fewer than than 35 percent of fourth graders are proficient readers, No Child Left Behind requires schools to use research-based reading programs:

"A primary focus of this law is the requirement that school districts and individual schools use effective research-based reading remediation programs so all children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. The law authorizes funds 'to provide assistance to State educational agencies and local educational agencies in establishing reading programs for students in kindergarten through grade 3 that are based on scientifically based reading research, to ensure that every student can read at grade level or above no later than the end of grade 3.' (20 U.S.C.§ 6361)" (page 89, Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind) [OUT OF PRINT]

These resources will help you to find training and curricula that meet federal NCLB standards.

Learning to Read l Research Based Instruction l Publications l Research Resources

Learning to Read

Why Children Succeed or Fail at Reading, Research from National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Program in Learning Disabilities

Reading Disabilities: Why Do Some Children Have Difficulty Learning to Read? What Can Be Done About It? by G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D.

Reading and Learning Disabilities, Position Paper of the Learning Disabilities Association of America (approved June 1996, updated April 2001)

Putting Reading First - Southwest Education Development Laboratory

Synthesis of Research on Reading from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development by Bonita Grossen, University of Oregon

Preventing Reading Difficulties and Reading Failure: Early Intervention and Prevention - Sue Heath responds to a student teacher's request for information about research on teaching children; includes a comprehensive list of free publications, articles, research - and a free video.

Research-Based Instruction

Briefs for Families on Evidence-Based Practices - Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice

Current Interventions in Autism: A Brief Analysis - Comparison of ABA/Lovaas, TEACCH, PECS, Greenspan/Floor Time, Inclusion, and Social Stories; includes background, goals, how implemented, advantages, concerns, errors to avoid, research that supports use. (2 pages)

What Works Clearinghouse - A central, independent source of scientific evidence of what works in education (U.S. Department of Education)

Don't forget to ask ERIC when you're doing research on an educational topic. (ERIC is the acronym for the Educational Resources Information Center) The includes descriptions of more than 1 million educational materials, including research-based findings published in journals about children with and without disabilities. Search the ERIC database for research that interests you.

National Reading Panel Reports Combination of Teaching Phonics, Word Sounds, Giving Feedback on Oral Reading Most Effective Way to Teach Reading (NIH News Alert, 2000)
In 1997, Congress asked the Director of the NICHD, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to convene a national panel to assess the effectiveness of different approaches used to teach children to read. For over two years, this National Reading Panel (NRP) reviewed research-based knowledge on reading instruction. The panel concluded that the most effective way to teach children to read is through instruction that includes a combination of methods. Read the full report presented at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read.

Reading Recovery is Not Successful with its Targeted Student Population. An international group of researchers who study reading interventions with struggling readers wrote a letter to share their concerns about the effectiveness of Reading Recovery, a program for struggling first graders.

What Works in Special Education?

Q&A with Pete Wright: 'Kids are...Teaching-disabled' - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talked to Wright, who lives in Virginia, about teaching kids to read, how to keep Individualized Education Program meetings from going sour and why parents shouldn't resist standardized testing. (02/02/06)

How Can I Know if My Child's Teacher is Highly Qualified? "Do I have a right to know the qualifications of my child’s teachers? If the answer is “yes,” how long does the school have to provide me with this information?" The answer is “yes” if your child attends a school that receives Title I funding, and “maybe” if the school does not receive Title I funds.

IDEAs That Work: Research Connections in Special Education - A publication reviewing OSEP-sponsored research on topics in special education. Toolkit on Teaching and Assessing Students with Disabilities is available at Parent Materials.

Searchable database of discretionary projects supported by OSEP under IDEA. Nearly 1100 projects; find out what's being investigated in these projects.

Searchable database of more than 300 projects funded by NIDRR (National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research). If you want to know about disability, rehabilitation, and promoting independence and employment for individuals with disabilities, NARIC is the place to visit.

Read about the SEELS study, a 5-year investigation of children, ages 6-12, who receive special education services. Summary of the study. SEELS Web site

What Works in Early Intervention?

The NEILS study, in which more than 3,338 children with disabilities or at risk for disabilities and their families are followed through early intervention and early elementary school. Visit the NEILS site to see what SRI is finding.

What Works in Transition?

The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). This study will follow a national sample of students as they move into adult roles over the next few years. Read about the study and results. Read a synopsis of the study from the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET)

The "What Works Transition Research Synthesis Project" is designed to tell us precisely that. This project will review and synthesize 20 years of research about transition for youth with disabilities, and publish results and syntheses. Approximately every three months, they will also publish a "What Works Data Brief" through the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET). Read about the study

Research to Practice Briefs to Improve Secondary Education and Transition Services - National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET).

Useful Publications

Teaching Reading IS Rocket Science, What Expert Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do from the American Federation of Teachers.

Put Reading First - The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read - Makes evidence-based reading research available to educators, parents, policy-makers, and others who want to help all people learn to read well.

Identifying and Implementing Educational Practices Supported by Rigorous Evidence.
Published by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U. S. Department of Education, this is a "user-friendly" guide is written for educators who want to improve educational outcomes. Describes the randomized control trial and why it is essential in establishing effectiveness. Learn how to evaluate whether an intervention is backed by "strong" evidence or "possible" evidence. Includes factors to consider when implementing evidence-based interventions in schools. Where to find evidence-based interventions, checklist to use in evaluating interventions.

Using Research and Reason in Education: How Teachers Can Use Scientifically Based Research to Make Curricular and Instructional Decisions
from the Partnership for Reading (May 2003).

Scientific Research in Education from the National Academies Press, 2003.

Understanding and Using Education Statistics: It's Easier (and More Important) Than You Think
from the Educational Research Service (2003). Order by calling 1.800.791.9308, or order online at www.ers.org

How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice from the National Academies Press (1999).

Evidence Matters: Randomized Trials in Education Research from the Brookings Institution (2002).

Handbook of Research on Teaching (4th Edition) from the American Educational Research Association, 2001. Order by calling 1.800.628.4094 or order online

Research Resources

American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Divisions of the Council for Exceptional Children

Educational Research Network

Educational Research Service

Journal of Educational Research

Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind [OUT OF PRINT]

Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) by Peter W. D. Wright, Pamela Darr Wright and Suzanne Whitney Heath includes:

  • Full text of the No Child Left Behind Act
  • Analysis, Interpretation & Commentary
  • Advocacy Strategies, Tips & Sample Letters
  • No Child Left Behind CD-ROM of Publications & Resources

Learn what the law says about -

  • Scientifically Based Reading Instruction
  • Proficiency Testing in Reading, Math, Science
  • Free Tutoring, Summer School, After-School Programs
  • Transfers from Failing Schools and School Choice
  • New Qualifications for Teachers and Paraprofessionals
  • Bonus Pay, Stipends, Scholarships for Teachers and Principals
  • Teacher Liability Protection

Bonus! The Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind CD-ROM includes the full text of the NCLB statute with overviews and commentary, NCLB regulations, dozens of guidance publications from the U. S. Department of Education and other references and resources. (contents of CD)

Rev: 03/15/19

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