Houghton Mifflin Reading
Teahcer helping a student.

Scientifically-based Research
What Scientifically-based Research is...

  • Research that has been conducted by an independent, third party
  • Longitudinal research (over several years) that spans several sequential grade levels
  • Research that uses a clinical model with experimental and control groups
  • Research that has been replicated.
What Scientifically-based Research is not...
  • Research that has been planned and conducted by an interested party
  • Short-term research (weeks/months) that only uses selected grade levels
  • Research that uses a model with no experimental and control groups
  • Research that has not been replicated.

Comprehensive Instruction
Comprehensive instruction includes the resources and tools to ensure student success in the five dimensions of reading:

Phonemic Awareness—The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words

Phonics—The relationship between the letters of written language and the sounds of spoken language. For example, learning that the letter "b" represents the /b/ sound

Fluency—The capacity to read text accurately and quickly

Vocabulary—The words students must know to communicate effectively through listening, speaking, reading, and writing

Comprehension—The ability to understand and gain meaning from what has been read.

Explicit Instruction
Explicit instruction offers a clear, direct explanation of the skill or concept to be learned. Characteristics of explicit instruction:

  • Explanation of the object of instruction
  • Direct teacher modeling of skills
  • Opportunities for interactive teacher-student practice
  • Instructional checkpoints
  • Application
  • Periodic or cumulative review
  • Resources for students who
    • need Extra Support
    • need Challenge/Extension
    • are English Language Learners.

Scaffolded Instruction
Scaffolded instruction includes a strong teacher model that gradually guides students toward independence.

The steps of scaffolded instruction include:

  1. The teacher coaches the student by modeling or demonstrating the skill
  2. The teacher and student practice the skill together
  3. The student demonstrates the skill independently through a practice application.

Systematic Instruction
Systematic instruction contains an instructional plan with an intentional, purposeful sequence. It may move from simple to more complex, such as in phonics instruction where learning begins with short vowels rather than with the more difficult vowel pairs.

Characteristics of systematic instruction include

  • The elements of explicit instruction described previously
  • Coverage of all key instruction
  • A scope and sequence that organizes the sequence of instructional strands from grade to grade.

Skills vs. Strategies
A Skill is a discrete unit of learning. It is generally less complex than a strategy.

Examples of skills:

  • Sound of short /a/
  • Sequence of events
A Strategy is a plan for using skills to accomplish a larger task. Strategies involve metacognition, an awareness of the personal thinking process.

Examples of Strategies:
  • Using a decoding strategy to unlock new words
  • Using a comprehension strategy to monitor understanding
  • Using a comprehension strategy to summarize expository or narrative text.
Metacognition, in simplest terms, is the awareness students develop in understanding how they know what they know.

Diagnostic Assessment—Provides a profile of student strengths/weaknesses and is used to make instructional decisions.

Criterion-referenced Tests—Focus on measuring how well students have learned what they have been taught.

Norm-referenced Tests—Allow comparison of individual scores to those of the group (such as students of the same grade) on which the test was standardized.




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