Status of Reading Instruction Institute

Status of Reading Instruction Institute logoThe International Reading Association created the Status of Reading Instruction Institute to provide accurate and detailed descriptions of effective reading practices in the United States and around the world. The mission of the Institute is to support increased literacy skills for all students by providing objective, reliable information about effective reading instruction for parents, teachers, other professional educators, and policymakers.

The Institute will address this mission by:

  1. Encouraging use of existing datasets to inform the improvement of instruction in reading and language arts.
  2. Conducting new studies as needed to fill important gaps in our knowledge about reading instruction and student achievement.
  3. Encouraging other governmental and research organizations to gather information needed to provide a complete picture of literacy instruction, student achievement, and student growth at all grade levels.
  4. Providing publications that meet the needs of a variety of constituents.

Initially, the Institute will give priority to research on reading instruction in the United States. Once the Institute is established it will also address reading instruction around the world.


The Institute is guided in its mission by a research advisory group comprised of recognized and experienced reading and research experts and directed by Karen Douglas

Teachers and Principals Advisory Groups

The perspectives and experiences of our members who are currently working in American schools is vital to the success and utility of the Institute’s activities. Read more about this important group and see a list of current members.

Using National Datasets to Study Reading Instruction

The National Center for Education Statistics collects data on teaching and learning across the U.S. and makes the data publicly available to researchers. One of their studies, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) followed a nationally representative cohort of students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The study collected information on reading skills, instruction, and characteristics of students, teachers, and schools.

An overview of the study and the information collected is summarized here.

Poverty and Reading Skills uses ECLS-K data to show children's overall reading achievement in grades kindergarten through fifth grade for students living in poverty in contrast to higher income students. It also makes the same comparison for growth in specific reading skills. Poverty is not the only factor, of course, that influences children’s acquisition of reading skills. Some poor children learn to read well and some higher income children do not. Future reports will use ECLS-K data to investigate the growth of reading for individual students and what aspects of classroom instruction mitigate the adverse affects of poverty.

Description of Reading Instruction Study

Description of Reading Instruction StudyThe first step in improving reading instruction is to provide rigorous and accurate descriptions of how reading is being taught in the classroom. Toward that end, the Institute is sponsoring a study of reading instruction in a nationally representative sample of first and fourth grade classrooms in the United States. This description will form the foundation for further study of what constitutes effective reading instruction.

The DRI Study will include both teacher surveys and classroom observations. The survey portion of the study will be lead by Dr. Brian Rowan at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. The first phase of the study will include extensive development and validation activities. Findings were released at the 2011 IRA Conference.

Teaching Reading Well: A Synthesis

The importance of preparing teachers to implement effective reading instruction is addressed in the first product of the Institute: Teaching Reading Well: A Synthesis of the International Reading Association's Research on Teacher Preparation for Reading Instruction. This report summarizes a thorough review of the preparation of classroom teachers in reading through two IRA initiatives: the National Commission on Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation for Reading Instruction, and the Teacher Education Task Force. The synthesis identifies six essential features for creating and sustaining preparation programs that produce teachers who teach reading well. It also provides examples of teacher preparation programs that exemplify these features. This report is currently available for free download on this site.


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