NEW!!! Downloadable List of NRRF Approved Products, AND Professional Development Opportunities

Since NRRF was founded in 1993, we have offered, at no cost, a list of reading instructional materials that can be used for teaching any child, or adult to read proficiently.  It is our belief that a “rising tide lifts all boats,” and thus we offer our best judgement on the products we list here.  The products range from free downloads to full classroom materials available for purchase and use in any home school, public, or elementary school classroom.

The criteria for NRRF approval is consistent with the findings of research over the past half century.  It includes the findings of the Report of the National Reading Panel (NRP) that direct, systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary development and comprehension are essential to any effective reading program.  These NRP findings have been confirmed by the most recent 2016 report published on the What Works Clearinghouse website.

It is our desire to provide access to practical tools that any teacher, whether a homeschooling mom, a first year kindergarten, first or second grade teacher, a seasoned reading teacher, or a reading coach with a Masters degree, or PhD. who has never been taught the “code” themselves, because of the lack of such instruction at our 1,100 schools of education here in the U.S.   Information is now available by simply following the guidance in the textbook, or from the professional development options available online from the website of the product selected.  The practical and applicable knowledge available today provides the necessary expertise to help a student learn how to decode, and comprehend what any student can talk about and understand.  Examples are listed here, and many of the websites of the products listed in our Resource Guide have similar professional development opportunities.  Often these programs are free with the purchase of the product.

Most students begin school with a large spoken vocabulary, and that includes even those who come from a background where print material has not been widely available.  Spoken vocabulary increases in the first three of four grades in school by about 3,000 words each year.  After that, spoken vocabulary increases by about 5,000 words each year.

Unless a student is taught how to unlock ALL of the words in a student’s spoken vocabulary then their educational opportunities are drastically limited.  Keep in mind that the usual “balanced approach” or the “look and guess” approach, or the “whole language approach” increases the average reading vocabulary of students by 3rd grade a maximum of 1,500 hundred “sight” words that can be memorized, although some students whose memories are able to master the sight word approach may memorize more words than that.  The truth is that there are very few true “sight words.”  Most all sight words are decodable.

If a student knows between 15,000 and 20,000 words by the time they reach 4th grade and yet they have not mastered the ability to decode these unknown words, then they will likely be unable to read and master the textbook content material they must read in science, math, history or literature.

NRRF urges teachers to assume that ALL students entering formal schooling need to learn the life skill of reading proficiently as soon as possible.  Often we hear comments that “comprehension” is the most important objective of any reading program.  We agree.  HOWEVER, one cannot comprehend what one cannot read.  Thus all students must learn that letters represent sounds from the very beginning of their schooling.  The English alphabet is composed of 26 letters.  However, those 26 letters represent about 45 different letter sounds, or letter/sound combinations.  In addition, there are at least 70 common ways to spell those sounds, and some estimates are that there are more than 150 letter/sounds that could or should be taught.

That is why it is so critical to teach little children who come to kindergarten, first, and second grades already able to speak and understand between 5,000 and 15,000 words, how to unlock those words in print.

Unfortunately most reading programs today focus on memorizing long lists of the most commonly used words. (The Dolche List),  These programs describe  learning to read as a “psycholinguistic guessing game.”  This philosophy of reading now includes “authentic books” for children to “read” when they enter school, but that is BEFORE they have learned how to decode  the unknown words they are exposed to at the very beginning of school in “authentic” books.

The consequence of using this failed and unscientific approach to reading instruction has perpetuated illiteracy despite trillions of dollars spent on education over the past half century.  According to the Annie Casey Foundation Kids Count assessment of 4th grade students today, as many as 83% of African American students cannot read proficiently by 4th grade.  81% of Hispanic 4th grade students cannot read proficiently at 4th grade, and 55% of White students cannot read proficiently by 4th grade either.

This is a national scandal, and more importantly, it is a tragedy for students who too often are placed in special education or other such programs, simply because they have never been properly taught to read in the first place.   The mission of NRRF has been to provide as much information as possible to parents, teachers, policy makers, and schools of education in an effort to reverse this terrible blight on America, and other English speaking nations.

Watch the NRRF website as we post “success stories” of students who learn the skill of reading at an early age.  It is interesting that even a nation like Borneo is adopting synthetic phonics programs to teach children to read English.  If Borneo can do it, certainly the United States of America can also.

We would welcome YOUR story too.  Send us a Youtube video, or a written narrative we can use on our website.  There is GOOD NEWS that needs to be presented to the American public.  It is time to turn the page from an education system that spends trillions of dollars while still failing more than half of our students, and to move forward to what decades of research in reading instruction have proven to work nearly 100% of the time.  The findings of reading research are settled science.  Let’s apply it in all K – 2 classrooms in America.

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