Teaching Children to Read
The findings and determinations of the NRP reflect a focused and persistent effort on the part of the Panel to contribute reliable, valid, and trustworthy information to the body of knowledge that is leading to a better scientific understanding of reading development and reading instruction. In carrying out its Congressional charge, the Panel was able to first develop, and then to apply a methodologically rigorous research review process and protocol and to do so within an open and public forum. The a priori establishment of research review criteria, the systematic evaluation process, and the openness to public scrutiny at all times ensured that the evidence ultimately evaluated by the Panel met well-established objective scientific standards. This process also serves as a model for future evaluations of evidence obtained experimentally on other topics relevant to reading as well as for studies employing nonexperimental methodologies.
The work of the NRP builds on existing knowledge about what types of skills children need to acquire to become independent readers. Specifically, the Panel addresses the evidence about what those skills are and adds further knowledge about how those skills are best taught to beginning readers who vary in initial reading-related abilities. The Panel identified a number of instructional approaches, methods, and strategies that hold substantial promise for application in the classroom at this time. Specifically, the Report of the National Reading Panel: Reports of the Subgroups includes specific findings that can be useful in helping teachers develop instructional applications with students. Moreover, the Reports of the Subgroups provides extensive references that teachers can locate for instructional ideas and guidance. In addition, the Panel identified areas where significantly greater research effort is needed, and where the quality of the research efforts must improve in order to determine objectively the effectiveness of different types of reading instruction. Significantly, the Panel has reached a series of positive conclusions about several areas of instructional research through a rigorous and open process. We are confident that the determinations made by the Panel in this regard will benefit children, teachers, and educational policymakers.
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