How to evaluate literacy programs that pledge to accelerate learning
The NAEP results in late 2022 revealed that reading scores fell for both fourth and eighth grade readers as a result of the pandemic. Only 33 percent of fourth graders are reading proficiently, which means that two-thirds read below grade level. For eighth graders, the scores are even lower with only 31 percent reading proficiently, and more than two-thirds reading below grade level.
While instruction informed by reading science is necessary for all students, it is essential for students who are at risk for reading challenges due to dyslexia, developmental language disorder, or other factors. Teachers need real-time progress monitoring data, data-driven action plans, and instructional tools that allow them to deliver the right instruction either inside or outside the classroom.
Schools and districts want to know the literacy program they choose is firmly grounded in the science of reading (i.e., more than 50 years of research) and has proven itself in real classrooms. Whether a literacy company has been in the market for 60 years or 60 days, there are ways to fact-check its solutions to determine if its research is valid, there is proven efficacy, and it can fulfill the promises they make to teachers and students. For district leaders, it is critical to understand the importance of the science of reading and the role of Structured Literacy as they review available literacy solutions.
The Science of Reading and Structured Literacy
Teaching reading is a complex process that incorporates decades of research into how students learn and how reading should be taught. Educators understand that teaching students to read fluently is the key to their overall academic success.
Almost every literacy program claims its solution is based on the science of reading, and some also claim its program follows a Structured Literacy instructional model. What does that mean, exactly? These terms are not synonymous. The science of reading is the evidence. It is 50+ years of gold-standard research about what works in reading instruction and the skills necessary to read proficiently.
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