Schoolwide Model: Knowledge Base

Teaching reading should be guided by a scientific knowledge base.

  • Educational decisions should be based on evidence, not ideology (Learning First Alliance, 1998).
  • Teaching reading is urgent and complex, but we have a solid scientific knowledge base to guide our efforts.
  • This knowledge base has recently been consolidated in a number of extremely important reports and documents.
  • This knowledge base provides consensus and a way to move past the divisive reading wars of the past.

Three Major Sources of Scientific Knowledge

  1. Beginning To Read: Thinking And Learning About Print (Adams, 1990).
  2. Preventing Reading Difficulties In Young Children (National Research Council, 1998).
    • National Academy of Sciences concluded that the weight of research evidence in beginning reading is sizeable enough that there exists sufficient empirical basis for reaching broad consensus within the field.
  3. Teaching Children To Read: An Evidence-based Assessment Of The Scientific Research Literature On Reading And Its Implications For Reading Instruction (National Reading Panel, 2000).
    • To conduct an evidence-based assessment of scientific research on reading, a 14-member panel of researchers was commissioned by the U.S. Congress (1997).
    • The panel developed an objective research review methodology then applied this methodology to evaluate studies - study by study.
    • Approximately 100,000 research studies have been published in reading since 1966.

National Reading Panel (2000): Many Studies, Few Selected

  • One of the most interesting things about the Report is that only a small percentage of the research in any area met the Committee's high standards for inclusion in the analysis (see table).
  • In the final analysis only a small number of students are included. But the fact that these are all high-quality studies leads to very forceful conclusions. It's not just the number of studies that are conducted, although convergence is important. The quality of the studies is also important.
  • The quantity of studies done with English Language Learners needs to increase, and the quality of those studies needs to improve.
  • However, according to the NRP and other reports (NRC 1998, Adams 1990), we have a significant convergence of evidence.
Reading Area Potential Studies Included in Analysis % Making Cut
Phonemic Awareness 1,962 52 3%
Phonics 1,415 38 3%
Fluency 967 128 13%
Vocabulary 247 47 19%
Text Comprehension 453 203 45%


Summary of What We Know From Science and Research

  • We know more about reading difficulties than all other learning difficulties put together (Stanovich, 1999).
  • We have a solid and converging knowledge base about what works.
  • We know that early intervention can prevent or ameliorate the effect of early reading risk for most students (National Reading Panel, 2000).
  • We know the skills that enable successful readers. Moreover, we know that these skills can be taught!

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The Schoolwide Model

Download a PDF version of the Introduction to the Schoolwide Model