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What have researchers learned since the 'Science of Reading?’

Founder and Chief Executive of Learning Ovations, Inc
Vice President for Research and Practice at Learning Ovations
Updated on
Modified on June 22, 2023
  • Literacy
  • Literacy Symposium
  • Science of Reading

Presentations, webinars, discussions, and blogs about the “Science of Reading” seem to be everywhere these days. These sessions, often with Emily Hanford’s work at the center, cover so much groundbreaking information and generate a lot of empowering conversations, making it all the more exciting to watch the momentum surrounding this topic build. However, these sessions often end with two questions still unanswered in our minds:

• What have we learned since the Science of Reading?

The Simple View of Reading (Gough & Tunmer, 1986) and the results from the National Reading Panel (2000) often serve as the jumping-off point for many Science of Reading discussions, but that leaves almost 20 years of research unexplored.

• How does a teacher actually put these findings into practice?

The gap between research and practice is wide but is closing as more information is made available to teachers. However, the divide will remain as long as there are still questions about how to actually apply the Science of Reading in real classrooms.

Luckily, both of these questions can be (at least partially) answered by a research finding that took place during the 20 years of unexplored research: the existence of Child Characteristics by Instruction interactions or CXI for short (Connor, Morrison, et al., 2011). While it may not come as a surprise to any teacher, prior to the mid-2000s researchers had a difficult time determining if all students learned the same way. In 2011, it was confirmed that YES, different students responded differently to the instruction they received in the class, and, thus, CXI were confirmed.

Even more exciting, the discovery of CXI interactions were just the beginning of this line of research. In fact, it was found that they could be used to determine the exact amounts and types of instruction that each individual student needs. In practice, this means there is a "just-right” amount of time each student needs to spend on decoding/phonics work and vocabulary/comprehension work to reach their full potential for growth across a school year.

There is more to this story, as well as a number of other exciting research findings from the past 20 years that are just beginning to make their way into the Science of Reading conversation. As more of these pieces of information land in the hands of teachers the gap between research and practice shrinks, organizations like Voyager Sopris Learning®, The Reading League, and Learning Ovations continue to lead the charge by working hand in hand with teachers to change education. To hear more groundbreaking research findings and get the details about how we’re working to apply the Science of Reading, join us for our presentation during the fifth annual Literacy Symposium on June 18.

Connor, C. M., Morrison, F. J., Schatschneider, C., Toste, J. R., Lundblom, E., Crowe, E. C., & Fishman, B. (2011). Effective Classroom Instruction: Implications of Child Characteristics by Reading Instruction Interactions on First Graders’ Word Reading Achievement. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 4(3), 173–207. https://doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2010.510179

About the Authors
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Jay Connor
Founder and Chief Executive of Learning Ovations, Inc
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Dr. Sarah Siegal
Vice President for Research and Practice at Learning Ovations