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[Susan notes: Joanne Yatvin nicely dispels the myths associated with the National Reading Panel, of which she was a member.]

Submitted to USA Today but not published

To the editor

As a member of The National Reading Panel (NRP) that produced the report on

which the Reading First section of the No Child Left Behind Act is based, I

never cease to be amazed and dismayed by the folklore that has grown up

around that report. The central legend is that the panel scientifically

determined that phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary

development, and comprehension are the five essential components of reading


The reality is that the panel selected 9 topics of particular interest to

its members for initial reviews of the research literature and later

identified 36 additional topics that it never got around to investigating

because of lack of time. Of the original 9 topics the panel determined that

five showed enough positive results to be identified as effective teaching

methods, even though three of the five (phonemic awareness, phonics, guided

oral reading) had fewer than 40 studies that met the panelıs criteria for

good science.

The latest offspring of the central legend is a study produced by the

National Council on Teacher Quality, evaluating teacher preparation in

reading instruction in 72 colleges of education. On the basis of whether or

not an institutionıs curriculum teaches its notion of the ³science of

reading,² derived from the components identified as effective in the NRP

report, this study gives 61 out of 72 schools a ³failing grade.²

P.S. Although I am currently President-elect of the National Council of

Teachers of English, the view I have expressed here are my own, not those of

the Council.

Joanne Yatvin

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