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[Susan notes: Gerald Coles packs a lot of important information into a brief space.]

Published in Education Week
03/31/2004

To the editor



More on 'Trustworthy'

Reading Research



The publication of The Voice of Evidence in Reading Research ("Book on 'Scientifically Based' Reading Research to Debut," March 10, 2004)

offers another repackaging of the National Reading Panel report, this one aimed, according to co-editor Peggy McCardle, at helping teachers

understand where all the advocates of the panel's (so-called) scientifically based reading research conclusions "are coming from."



Surely many teachers will quickly recognize where these advocates are coming from when they find that in a volume aimed at helping educators "decide what is trustworthy and what's not," the volume contains not a single alternative appraisal of the "scientific

evidence."



Several books critical of the National Reading Panel report, including my own, have been published. A considerable number of articles in peer-reviewed professional journals have found serious problems with the report. One National Reading Panel member, Joanne Yatvin, offered a "Minority View" that was published in the report. Yet the editors of The Voice appear so intent on not confusing educators' decisionmaking on "trustworthy" research that not a single

essay in the volume offers an alternative voice.



And speaking of trustworthiness, contrary to Timothy Shanahan's straw- man interpretation, the primary condemnations of the report's findings have had little to do with its absence of "qualitative research." Rather, criticisms have been based primarily on the report's misreading and misrepresentation of the very research it examined.



On the other hand, Mr. Shanahan is trustworthy in saying that "a more inclusive review of the literature would have had little or no

influence on the panel's conclusions." As I discuss in Reading the Naked Truth: Literacy, Legislation, and Lies (2003), a reading of the

minutes of the NRP meetings shows that the majority of the panel decided in its very first meeting-and before a stitch of evidence was

collected-what did and did not count in beginning reading. And- surprise-these a priori conclusions were affirmed by the National Reading Panel's subsequent "review" of the research.



Gerald Coles


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