To be described as “evidence based,” an instructional program or collection of practices should have been tested and shown to have a record of success. That is, reliable, trustworthy, and valid evidence indicates that when that program or set of practices is used, children can be expected to make adequate gains in reading achievement. “Research-based instruction” is sometimes used to convey the same meaning.
In general, educators agree that evidence of the effectiveness of a program or practice should be
Objective—data would be identified and interpreted similarly by any evaluator
Valid—data adequately represent the tasks that children need to accomplish to be successful readers
Reliable—data would remain essentially unchanged if collected on a different day or by a different person
Systematic—data were collected according to a rigorous design
Refereed—data have been approved for publication by a panel of independent reviewers
Of course, adoption of a program indicated as “evidence based” does not guarantee reading success. Teachers and administrators must also evaluate methods and programs through the lens of their particular school and classroom settings. They must determine if the instructional strategies and routines that are central to the materials are a good match for the children they teach.
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