Five Missing Pillars of Scientific Reading Instruction
Susan Notes: Here is a good place to start in critiquing Reading First.
by Richard L. Allington, Ph.D., University of Tennessee, USA
In the U.S., the National Reading Panel report (2001) set forth five pillars of scientific
reading instruction: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and
comprehension. While there is little disagreement these are critical aspects of reading
acquisition, the NRP report has been criticized for its narrowly focused research review.
Below I list five additional pillars of scientific reading instruction based on the available
evidence concerning what really matters for learning to read. Each of these five pillars
seems absolutely essential elements of "scientific' reading instruction. I provide citations
for the most recent and powerful papers pointing to the scientific evidence supporting
these additional pillars.
1. Access to interesting texts and choice.
Guthrie, J. T. and N. M. Humenick (2004). Motivating students to read: Evidence for
classroom practices that increase motivation and achievement. The Voice of Evidence in
Reading Research. P. McCardle and V. Chhabra. Baltimore, Paul Brookes Publishing:
2. Matching kids with appropriate texts.
Making it different makes the difference. International Reading Association. Available at
O' Connor, R. E., K. M. Bell, et al. (2002). Teaching reading to poor readers in the
intermediate grades: A comparison of text difficulty. Journal of Educational Psychology
3. Writing and reading have reciprocal positive effects.
Tierney, R. J. and T. Shanahan (1991). Research on reading-writing relationships:
Interactions, transactions and outcomes. Handbook of Reading Research. R. Barr, M.
Kamil, P. Mosenthal and P. D. Pearson. New York, Longman. 2: 246-280.
4. Classroom organization: Balance whole class teaching with small group and
Taylor, B. M., P. D. Pearson, et al. (2000). "Effective Schools
and accomplished teachers: Lessons about primary grade reading instruction in low
income schools." Elementary School Journal 101: 121-165.
Allington, R. L., & Johnston, P. H. (Eds.). (2002). Reading to learn: Lessons from
exemplary 4th grade classrooms. New York: Guilford.
5. Availability of expert tutoring.
D'Agostino, J. V. and J. A. Murphy (2004). "A meta-analysis of Reading Recovery in
United States schools." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 26(1): 23-38.
Allington, R. L. (2004). Setting the record straight. Educational Leadership 61(6): 22-25.
INDEX OF RESEARCH THAT COUNTS