In 1997, Congress asked the NICHD, through its Child Development and Behavior Branch, to work with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in establishing a National Reading Panel that would evaluate existing research and evidence to find the best ways of teaching children to read.
The 14-member Panel included members from different backgrounds, including school administrators, working teachers, and scientists involved in reading research.
On April 13, 2000, the National Reading Panel concluded its work and submitted its final reports. The Panel has not been reconvened since that time and does not continue to work on this issue.
Specifically, Congress asked the Panel to:
In addition, the National Reading Panel held public hearings where people could give their opinions on what topics the panel should study.
The Panel considered roughly 100,000 reading studies published since 1966, and another 10,000 published before that time. From this pool, the Panel selected several hundred studies for its review and analysis.
The National Reading Panel’s analysis made it clear that the best approach to reading instruction is one that incorporates:
The Panel found that a combination of techniques is effective for teaching children to read:
The findings of the National Reading Panel were highlighted in President George W. Bush’s plan for improving education—the No Child Left Behind Act—signed in 2001.
The NICHD, the National Institute for Literacy, and the ED also united to form the Partnership for Reading, an effort to distribute evidence-based reading research—such as the findings of the National Reading Panel—to those who could benefit the most from it. The Partnership aimed to ensure that the methods of reading instruction used in the classroom reflect evidence-based methods, such as those put forth by the National Reading Panel. Publications developed under this partnership are still relevant and available despite termination of the National Institute for Literacy. Please see the More Information section below to access these publications.