Critical Ideas Focusing on Meaningful Reform

Effective Reading Instruction

What we thought. What we now know.

Misconception: Students with reading difficulties require qualitatively different reading instruction (e.g. reading styles, perceptual training, colored lenses).

Validated Research: Struggling readers become far more successful when carefully taught the same fundamental reading skills that all successful learners must learn. Students with reading difficulties, however, require increased instructional time, more precisely sequenced teaching, and more precise and immediate feedback during learning (Fletcher and Lyon 1998; Simmons and Kame’enui 1998; Torgesen 1998).

Misconception: Dyslexia is usually a visually based learning problem causing students confusion in the way they see letters and words.

Validated Research: The vast majority of students with severe reading difficulty have substantial weaknesses in auditory-related skills, such as identifying individual sounds with words (phonemic awareness) and associating those sounds with written letters (sound-symbol relationships) (Fletcher and Lyon 1998; Liberman et al. 1998; Lyon 1998;Shaywitz 1996; Torgesen 1998).

Early Intervention and Prevention “Catch them before they fall”

What we thought. What we now know.

Misconception: Reading Instruction, including the direct instruction of early literacy skills, should be delayed until students are “developmentally ready.”

Validated Research: Delayed instruction fosters increased failure. Effective early intervention and prevention includes the direct teaching of critical literacy skills, such as phonemic awareness, letter recognition oral language, and vocabulary development. These skills should be taught as early as preschool (Foorman et al. 1997; Good et al. 1998).

Misconception: Most children with reading difficulties will never learn to read well no matter what we do.

Validated Research: The vast majority of students with reading difficulties can learn to read when given intensive instruction using research-validated practices (Foorman et al. 1998; Lyon 1997,1998).

Assessment That Drives Instruction –  The Better We Use Assessment Data, the Better We Teach

What we thought. What we now know.

Misconception: Norm-referenced tests provide adequate guidance for instructional planning and progress monitoring.

Validated Research: Curriculum-based measurement provides more precise guidance for instructional decision making and progress monitoring (Shinn 1998)

Access to the Core Curriculum and Reading – Instruction

What we thought. What we now know.

Misconception: Remediation of serious difficulties can occur within the context of whole-group instruction using grade level materials.

Validated Research: Successful reading remediation requires keen attention to specific, fundamental reading skills and instruction at a proper level of difficulty. Instructional conditions necessary for significant reading improvement include (1) properly identifying skills that students need to learn; (2) providing instruction and materials that specifically address students’ deficiencies; and (3) scheduling adequate time for instruction and practice (Kame’enui and Simmons 1998; Orton Dyslexia Society 1997; Torgesen 1998; Vaughn 1998).

California Special Education Reading Task Force
California Department of Education
California State Board of Education
Sacramento, 1999