Scientific Principles of Reading Instruction
These principles have been distilled from the findings of more than 30 years of research studies under two very expensive federally funded programs: the $200 million in studies conducted under the direction of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the $1 billion Project Follow Through Study. The research indicates that, to be most effective, these principles should be taught in sequence:
- Teach phonemic awareness directly in kindergarten. Phonemic awareness is the understanding that spoken words and syllables are made up of sequences of elementary speech sounds.
- Teach, explicitly and in isolation, the single speech sound-spelling represented by each letter or letter combination. Provide practice in recognizing these speech sound-spelling relationships in decodable text.
- Teach frequent, highly regular speech sound-spelling relationships systematically progressing from easier to more difficult, and provide practice reading them daily, first in isolation and then in the context of words and sentences.
- Teach students directly how to sound out words by blending the words’ speech sound-spellings together sequentially from left to right, and then provide practice using words composed of only those speech sound-spelling relationships that have been systematically taught.
- Provide connected, decodable text for students to use to practice the speech sound-spelling relationships they have learned.
- Teach reading comprehension using interesting teacher read stories that include words most students have not yet learned to read, but which are part of their spoken vocabulary.
- Teach decoding and comprehension skills concurrently but separately, until reading becomes fluent such that comprehension skills learned through teacher-read literature can be applied to the students’ own reading once they become fluent decoders.