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Standards 2010: Research Base for Standards

Reading, reading instruction, and teacher preparation for reading instruction are among the most studied topics in educational research. Because of the sheer volume of the work, researchers, publishers, and the U.S. Department of Education have devoted significant resources to research syntheses that summarize historical and current research findings. Rather than providing another such synthesis, Standards 2010 provides a sampling of well-respected extant syntheses. In this section, we provide a complete bibliographic reference and a short commentary that highlights the relevance of the particular synthesis to each of the six professional Standards.

The Handbooks of Reading Research

Pearson, P.D., Barr, R., Kamil, M.L., & Mosenthal, P. (Eds.). (1984). Handbook of reading research (Vol. 1). White Plains, NY: Longman.

Barr, R., Kamil, M.L., Mosenthal, P., & Pearson, P.D. (Eds.). (1991). Handbook of reading research (Vol. 2). White Plains, NY: Longman.

Kamil, M.L., Mosenthal, P.B., Pearson, P.D., & Barr, R. (Eds.). (2000). Handbook of reading research (Vol. 3). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

The Handbooks of Reading Research were published at approximately decade intervals. These handbooks are voluminous and a treasure trove of research syntheses. Among the three volumes, there are chapters relevant to all six Standards. Scholars should be intimately acquainted with all three books; the volumes are also relevant to the work of those using Standards 2010.

Research Syntheses

Biancarosa, G., & Snow, C.E. (2006). Reading next: A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Reading Next is a report that combines current research with well-crafted strategies for turning that research into practice. Informed by some of the nation's leading researchers, this book charts an immediate route to improving adolescent literacy. The authors outline 15 key elements of an effective adolescent literacy intervention and call on public and private stakeholders to invest in the literacy of middle and high school students today, while simultaneously building the knowledge base. Standards 2010 users will find Reading Next useful, especially in relation to Standard 2 (Curriculum and Instruction) and Standard 3 (Assessment and Evaluation).

Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher, 33(8), 3–15. Available:

This article maps the research on teacher professional development by providing an overview of what we have learned as a field about effective professional development programs and their impact on teacher learning. Borko suggests some important directions and strategies for extending our knowledge into a new territory of questions not yet explored.

Cowen, J.E. (2003). A balanced approach to beginning reading instruction: A synthesis of six major U.S. research studies. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Particularly relevant to Standard 1 (Foundational Knowledge), this book summarizes and evaluates six major government-funded research studies. Anyone with expertise in reading and reading instruction should be familiar with these seminal studies.

Farstrup, A.E., & Samuels, S.J. (Eds.). (2002). What research has to say about reading instruction (3rd ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

This volume contains 17 chapters, each devoted to summarizing the research on a particular topic, and is particularly useful for understanding Standard 2 (Curriculum and Instruction), because it provides research evidence for the teaching and learning of specific reading skills and strategies. Many of the chapters address the teaching of specific aspects of reading (e.g., phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension). Two chapters address Standard 3 (Assessment and Evaluation), and several chapters summarize research related to Standard 4 (Diversity).

Pressley, M. (2002). Effective beginning reading instruction. Journal of Literacy Research, 34(2), 165–188.

This review critiques the findings of the National Reading Panel, highlights additional findings supported by rigorous research, and is particularly useful for Standard 2 (Curriculum and Instruction) and Standard 5 (Literate Environment). Pressley addresses the importance of classroom practices and routines that benefit literacy achievement. Effective reading instruction occurs over the years and changes with the developmental level of the child, and these dynamics are not captured by the Panel's emphases on discrete skills appropriate only to particular developmental levels. Effective instruction is a balance and blending of skills teaching and holistic literature and writing experiences.

Risko, V.J., Roller, C.M., Cummins, C., Bean, R.M., Block, C.C., Anders, P.L., et al. (2008). A critical analysis of research on reading teacher education. Reading Research Quarterly, 43(3), 252–288. doi:10.1598/RRQ.43.3.3

This article is particularly useful for background related to Standard 6 (Professional Learning and Leadership). Risko et al. summarize 82 studies and include findings that indicate that reading teacher preparation programs have been relatively successful in recent years in changing prospective teachers' knowledge and beliefs; a smaller number of studies document that pedagogical knowledge has influenced actual teaching practice under certain conditions. The authors suggest that university teaching practices that benefit learning of pedagogical knowledge and skills tend to provide explicit explanation and examples, demonstrations of practices, and opportunities for guided practice of teaching practices in practicum settings with pupils.

Ruddell, R.B., & Unrau, N.J. (Eds.). (2004). Theoretical models and processes of reading (5th ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading is a periodic volume that reprints seminal articles related to reading and reading instruction. Its opening section is useful for understanding Standard 1 (Foundational Knowledge), because it gives a historical perspective on the teaching of reading and on reading research. Section 2 includes eight chapters devoted to language and cognition in sociocultural contexts. Ruddell and Unrau also included a section on models of reading and writing processes. The volume is also relevant to Standard 2 (Curriculum and Instruction), because it includes many chapters devoted to specific instructional practices about early reading and the development of skilled reading in middle and high school students.

Sailors, M., & Hoffman, J. (2010). The text environment and learning to read: Windows and mirrors shaping literate lives. In D. Wyse, R. Andrews, & J. Hoffman (Eds.), The Routledge international handbook of English, language and literacy teaching (pp. 294–304). New York: Routledge.

This review is particularly relevant to Standard 5 (Literate Environment). Sailors and Hoffman have adopted the metaphor of mirrors and windows to frame their analysis of theory, research, practice, and reform as related to the literacy environment created in the classroom. They argue that the text environment mediates the literacy lives of learners, as they may or may not engage with texts in and out of school. They also argue that it is helpful to examine the uses of literacy from multiple theoretical frames, including the psychological, sociopsychological, social practice, critical, and aesthetic. The gap is still great in terms of schools realizing the potential for the literacy environment.

Slavin, R.E. (1987). Ability grouping and student achievement in elementary schools: A best-evidence synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 57(3), 293–336. doi:10.3102/00346543057003293

Although somewhat dated, this is an excellent review of the literature on grouping practices in reading instruction and is particularly relevant to Standard 5 (Literate Environment). Slavin reviewed the effects of between- and within-class ability grouping on the achievement of elementary school students. Overall, evidence does not support assignment of students to self-contained classes according to ability, but grouping plans involving cross-grade assignment for selected subjects can increase student achievement. Research particularly supports the Joplin Plan, cross-grade ability grouping for reading only. Analysis of effects of alternative grouping methods suggests that ability grouping is maximally effective when done for only one or two subjects (with students remaining in heterogeneous classes most of the day), when it greatly reduces student heterogeneity in a specific skill, when group assignments are frequently reassessed, and when teachers vary the level and pace of instruction according to student needs.

York-Barr, J., & Duke, K. (2004). What do we know about teacher leadership? Findings from two decades of scholarship. Review of Educational Research, 74(3), 255–316. doi:10.3102/00346543074003255

This article reviews the research literature about professional development and is specifically focused on Standard 6 (Professional Learning and Leadership). The review of the empirical literature revealed numerous small-scale, qualitative studies that describe dimensions of teacher leadership practice, teacher leader characteristics, and conditions that promote and offer a conceptual framework to guide future inquiry.

Government-Sponsored Reports

Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S., & Griffin, P. (Eds.). (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

This was the first of the series of U.S. government–funded reports related to reading instruction. This report focused on pre-K through third grade and is an excellent source for descriptions of reading skills and behaviors at each level. It is not a research synthesis, because it does not approach the task by identifying research studies and then synthesizing. Instead, the Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children used the knowledge of its distinguished panel to guide findings and recommendations. This report is most useful in relation to Standard 2 (Curriculum and Instruction) and Standard 3 (Assessment and Evaluation), at the early reading level.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

This document is usually referred to as the National Reading Panel Report and is particularly useful for understanding Standard 2 (Curriculum and Instruction). It specifically addresses the teaching and learning of phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension strategies and is an excellent summary of the experimental and quasi-experimental studies on these topics that were completed by the late 1990s.

National Early Literacy Panel. (2008). Developing early literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.

This report focused on identifying the early literacy skills that predict later achievement in reading and then identifying instructional practices that research indicates improves those early skills. It is particularly useful for Standard 2 (Curriculum and Instruction), because its major focus is on instructional practices. As the title indicates, the report focuses only on early literacy and will be of most interest to those involved with pre-K–2 reading.

August, D., & Shanahan, T. (Eds.). (2006). Developing literacy in second-language learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum; Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.

This volume reports the findings of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth. The formal charge to the panel—a distinguished group of expert researchers in reading, language, bilingualism, research methods, and education—was to identify, assess, and synthesize research on the education of language-minority children and youth with respect to their attainment of literacy. This volume is particularly useful in relation to Standard 4 (Diversity), as it focuses specifically on instructional methods for children learning English as a second language.

Yoon, K.S., Duncan, T., Lee, S.W., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K.L. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement (Issues and Answers Report, REL 2007–No. 033). Washington, DC: Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved May 18, 2010, from

This report addresses Standard 6 (Professional Learning and Leadership). The researchers found that teachers who receive substantial professional development—an average of 49 hours in the nine rigorous studies reviewed—can boost their students' achievement by about 21 percentile points; however, it was based on only nine rigorous studies. Although more than 1,300 studies were identified as having potentially addressed the effect of teacher professional development on student achievement in three key content areas, only nine met the What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards, attesting to the paucity of rigorous studies that directly examine this link.

Evidence Summary of the Standards' Research Base

The publications in the following table are presented in the order they were discussed in this section.

Publication Standards
  1 2 3 4 5 6
Pearson, Barr, Kamil, & Mosenthal (1984) X X X X X X
Barr, Kamil, Mosenthal, & Pearson (1991) X X X X X X
Kamil, Mosenthal, Pearson, & Barr (2000) X X X X X X
Biancarosa & Snow (2006) X X X X X X
Borko (2004)           X
Cowen (2003) X          
Farstrup & Samuels (2002) X X X X X X
Pressley (2001) X X     X  
Risko et al. (2008)           X
Ruddell & Unrau (2004) X X X X X X
Sailors & Hoffman (2010)   X     X  
Slavin (1987)         X  
York-Barr & Duke (2004)           X
Snow, Burns, & Griffin (1998) X X X      
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000) X X       X
National Early Literacy Panel (2008) X X        
August & Shanahan (2006) X X X X X  
Yoon et al. (2007)           X