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The science has long been in. Reading must be directly and explicitly taught. So long whole-language and balanced literacy - too many students are left behind.

Reading, unlike speaking and listening, is not hardwired and must be taught – preferably through Structured Literacy Instruction (SLI) which is based on science and doesn’t leave teaching up to chance. SLI is based in science and emphasizes direct, explicit, sequenced, systematic, cumulative, and intensive lessons while also including multisensory instructional strategies. Multisensory strategies include the use of instruction with visual, auditory, and tactile-kinesthetic sensory. Teachers need to undergo extensive preparation based in instruction that is grounded in science (evidence-based).


The National Reading Panel (NRP) identified five critical components that are critical to teaching a young reader. They are:

Phonemic Awareness (PA): the ability to notice and manipulate individual sound. PA has a causal relationship with literacy achievement and is the best predictor of later reading and spelling achievement in first/second grade.

Phonics: letter and letter combinations resulting in approximately 44 English sounds.  Best introduced in K/1 and leads to recognizing familiar words and decoding unfamiliar words. Taught systematically and has the greatest impact on low SES students and at-risk readers. Phonics taught systematically has benefits for older struggling readers.

Vocabulary Development: NRP confirmed a strong relationship between vocabulary learning and comprehension gains. Taught directly/indirectly, repetition, entail engagement, includes incidental learning, multiple instruction methods optimal.

Reading Fluency: The ability to read text accurately and quickly, recognize words, and gain meaning. Guided oral reading is an approach to teaching fluency. Fluency and comprehension are areas in which older students suffer. Guided oral reading, vocabulary review, background knowledge review help these students.

Reading Comprehension: Making sense of what was read. It requires word recognition, fluency, vocabulary, word knowledge and verbal reasoning.

Studies show that of those children who have a reading disability in the third grade, approximately 74% continue to read significantly below grade level in the 9th grade.

There are secondary consequences such as weakness in vocabulary development and reading comprehension due to the less-developed accuracy in fluency and a smaller store of background knowledge to support comprehension. Much of this is due to reduced reading experience. 

Early identification and intervention are essential to successful treatment of children who are at risk for reading failure.

NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) supported research also found that older individuals with dyslexia can improve with interventions that focus on remediation of reading and writing skills. As children get older, however, the intensity and duration of reading interventions must increase exponentially to achieve the same improvement possible with younger children.

Read the National Reading Panel's report

See how the literacy screener, Dibel's 8th Edition, is administered on your child

Read the Massachusetts Dyslexia Guidelines

Is your child's reading program evidence-based?

Is your child having reading difficulty but you're told your child is on grade level? If the shown evidence your child is on grade level is an F&P reading level (Fountas and Pinnell noted by letters A to Z), you may have found the reading experience inconsistency. Fountas and Pinnell is not structured literacy and uses the three-cueing system (meaning, structure, and visual) which science has indicated and explained in detail that poor readers use, not strong readers. Strong readers decode words and map words and their parts (spelling patterns, syllables, prefixes/suffixes, base and root words, etc. ) in memory. That way, when a student encounters a word in print they've already read, it's available and is automatically read and pulled from memory. If a student comes across an unknown word, they can break it apart into units they know and decode the word.

Read more here: 

In 2010, a group of parents in a suburban school district near Columbus, Ohio discovered their children had something in common – they could not read. They were languishing in a reading intervention program and their dyslexia was not being identified or remediated as is required by federal law under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The group banded together to form the grassroots organization, Upper Arlington Kids Identified with Dyslexia (UA-KID).  Together they filed a systemic, group complaint with the Ohio Department of Education and the district was found in violation on all three allegations. Then, they formed a partnership with the district and now work shoulder to shoulder to deliver the nationally recognized early literacy program they built together. 

This film was made to offer a roadmap for parents to advocate on behalf of all children.

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