At The Reading Clinic we believe in evidence-based practice. Before the clinic was established, a full review of the scientific literature was conducted and the results were incorporated into our program. We continue to keep up with the latest research and add to or modify our approach based on the recommendations.

‘Reading instruction should be based on the evidence of sound research’.
(Ministry of Education of Ontario, The Report of the Expert Panel on Early Reading in Ontario, 2003)

Twenty years of reading research has shown that (assuming a normal amount of exposure to print) the primary causes of a difficulty learning to read are:

  • poorly developed phonological awareness skills
  • lack of systematic explicit phonics instruction within the reading program

Websites

The following websites will provide you with a good start if you’re interested in reviewing the research:

  • The National Reading Panel
    • In 1997, the U.S. Congress directed that a national panel be set up to assess the status of research-based knowledge regarding the effectiveness of various approaches used to teach children to read, focusing on Kindergarten through Grade 3.The National Reading Panel (NRP) of 14 members was formed by the Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICH) and Secretary of Education. Subgroups were formed and reported their findings in 5 areas:
      • phonemic awareness
      • phonics
      • fluency
      • vocabulary
      • text comprehension

      Over 100,00 studies were reviewed for inclusion in the meta-analysis done by the NRP. In April, 2000 the NRP’s final report was submitted to Congress.

      An easy to read version, Put Reading First, can be found by googling ‘Put Reading First’ and choosing the website:

      https://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/prf_k-3/Pages/PRF-teachers-k-3.aspx

  • Ministry of Education of Ontario
    • This recent document from the Ministry of Education of Ontario, Education for All: The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Students with Special Education Needs, Kindergarten to Grade 6, references the NRP report frequently in the sections on reading.
  • The National Center for Learning Disabilities
    • The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), a U.S. organization, has a link to ‘on-line publications’ and under ‘preventing’ there is an excellent article by Joseph Torgenson, one of the leading reading researchers. The article is called ‘Preventing Early Reading Failure and its Devastating Downward Spiral’. This article talks about the intensity and duration of intervention which is required – substantially more than is normally provided in a school setting. He also demonstrates just how successful intensive intervention can be.

Articles

Susan Hall has written a very easy-to-read article (see page 8) about the importance and effectiveness of early intervention. It was published in the Summer 2004 edition of Communique, which is the newsletter of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario.

The meta-analysis done for phonemic awareness instruction has been published in the Reading Research Quarterly vol. 36 #3 (pp 250-287). Phonemic awareness instruction helps children learn to read: Evidence for the National Reading Panel’s meta-analysis.

Books

Shaywitz, Sally, MD. Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level.
Knopf Publishing Group, January 2005, ISBN-13: 9780679781592

Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a pediatrician and neuroscientist, is the co-director of the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention. Shaywitz demystifies the roots of dyslexia and offers parents and educators hope that children with reading problems can be helped. According to Shaywitz, there is now clear scientific evidence that the brain of the dyslexic reader is activated in a different area than that of the nonimpaired reader. The dyslexic reader may be strong in reasoning, problem solving and critical thinking, but invariably lacks phonemic awareness – the ability to break words apart into distinct sounds – which is critical in order to crack the reading code. The good news is that with the use of effective training programs, the brain can be rewired and dyslexic children can learn to read. Early diagnosis and effective treatment are of utmost importance, although even older readers can learn to read skillfully with proper intervention.