The Minority View – The Mandate

The mandate and method of the Authoritative “What Works” for Teaching Reading study was to end the “Reading Wars” by reviewing all the existing research on what works for teaching reading.

The charge from Congress to the National Reading Panel (NRP) was to assess the status of research based

knowledge, including the effectiveness of various approaches to teaching children to read.” Part 1 describes the mandate and how a limited interpretation of it was taken by the Panel.

From this charge, it seems reasonable to infer that Congress’s goal was to settle the “Reading Wars.” The main thrust of the charge is toward determining which of the many teaching methods used in schools, and promoted by advocates, really work best. I (Joanne Yatvin) am filing this minority report because I believe
that the Panel has not fulfilled that obligation. From the beginning, the Panel chose to conceptualize and review the field narrowly.

Ultimately, the Panel subgroups produced reviews of the research on the following topics: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension strategies, vocabulary development, computer technology and reading instruction, teacher preparation
in general, and teacher preparation to teach comprehension strategies.

These reviews show comprehensive and painstaking work by the subcommittees.

The National Reading Panel issued a report in 2000 to determine “what works” for teaching reading. The Panel reviewed more than 100,000 studies.  By operating on a “what works” basis, scientific evidence was collected to guide instructional
practice. The Panel discussed the teaching of the five critical reading skills: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  The above is excerpted from the report. Its Appendix C, MINORITY VIEW by Joanne Yatvin,
Ph.D.. Oregon Trail School District, Sandy, Oregon.

The Authoritative “What Works” for Teaching Reading study on literacy and learning and children was to end the “Reading Wars” by reviewing all the existing research on what works for teaching reading. The mandate was to study all the literacy research on young children.Early Learning Center – “What Works” for Teaching Reading study

The Limitations of What Works for Teaching Reading. The Minority View

The weakness of the authoritative “What Works” for Teaching Reading study came from the biased questions that it asked, the uneven quality of truly meaningful literacy research, and the inadequate effort of reviewing the literature with a staff of volunteers

On the other hand, the reviews are of limited usefulness to teachers, administrators, and policymakers because they fail to address the key issues that have made elementary schools both a battleground for advocates of opposing philosophies and a prey
for purveyors of “quick fixes.” And, unfortunately, the reviews are of even less use to parents because they do not touch on early learning and home support for literacy, matters which many experts believe are the critical determinants of school success or failure.

The research on language development, pre-reading literary knowledge, understanding of the conventions of print, and all the other experiences that prepare young children to learn to read also demanded the Panel’s attention. And finally, the changing needs and strategies of adolescent readers called for a review of the existing research.  If the Panel could not cover the whole field-as, in fact, it could not because of time and resource limitations-it should have concentrated on topics of highest interest and controversy in the public arena….

In fairness to the Panel, it must be recognized that the charge from Congress was too demanding to be accomplished by a small body of unpaid volunteers, working part time, without staff support, over a period of a year and a half. (The time Congress originally allotted was only 6 months.)

Congress did not realize-and the Panel itself did not fully comprehend at the beginning of its labors-how large, uneven, and intractable the field of reading research really is.

The National Reading Panel issued a report in 2000 to determine “what works” for teaching reading.  The Panel discussed the teaching of the five critical reading skills: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

The above is excerpted from the report. Its Appendix C, MINORITY VIEW by Joanne Yatvin, Ph.D.. Oregon Trail School District, Sandy, Oregon.

The weakness of the authoritative “What Works” for Teaching Reading study came from the biased questions about literacy and reading and young children that it asked, the uneven quality of truly meaningful literacy research, and the inadequate effort of reviewing the literature with a staff of volunteerEarly Learning Center.

The Questions Not Asked – “What Works” for Teaching Reading. The Minority View

“What Works” for Teaching Reading. The Minority View of National Reading Panel. There are a number of questions that the authoritative “What Works” for Teaching Reading study did not ask.

This is the third and concluding part of a series summarizing the minority view of the “what works” in teaching reading study.  This article provides two lists of questions that were not asked in the reading pedagogy study.

Below are two lists of topics not investigated by the National Reading Panel. The first is drawn from a survey of leaders in reading from across the United States done by the International Reading Association (Reading Today, December 1999). These leaders were asked to identify what topics they perceived to be “hot” in the field today. The second list is my (Joanne Yatvin) own view of topics that teachers and parents are concerned about, either because they are now in wide use or are being advocated for inclusion in the reading curriculum.

International Reading Association List of “Hot” Topics Not Asked in “What Works”

. Balanced reading instruction
. Decodable text

. Direct instruction

. Early intervention

. Performance assessment

. Standards

. State/national assessment

. Volunteer tutoring

My (Joanne Yatvin) List of Topics of Public Concern Not Asked in “What Works”

. Direct instruction

. Use of decodable texts

. Embedded skills instruction

. Reading aloud to children

. Invented spelling

. Use of predictable texts

. Early language development (vocabulary, grammar, and literary language)
. Integrated reading and writing

. Home-teaching programs

. Access to quality literature

. Whole-class instruction

. Scripted instruction

. Teacher modeling

. Children’s understanding of print conventions

The National Reading Panel issued a report in 2000 to determine “what works” for teaching reading. The Panel reviewed more than 100,000 studies.  By operating on a “what works” basis, scientific evidence was collected to guide instructional
practice. The Panel discussed the teaching of the five critical reading skills: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  The above is excerpted from the report. Its Appendix C, MINORITY VIEW by Joanne Yatvin,
Ph.D.. Oregon Trail School District, Sandy, Oregon.

Leave a Reply