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Science of Reading Resources

Science of Reading 

Several decades of reading research has given us a clear understanding of how students best learn to read. One way to conceptualize reading is through the Simple View of Reading model. This model developed by Gough and Tunmer organizes the skills needed to become a proficient and successful reader into two categories: word recognition and language comprehension. The Simple View of Reading is a basic formula for reading comprehension. It says this: reading comprehension is the product of word recognition skills and language comprehension skills. We need both sides of the equation for students to become skilled, proficient readers. Students need efficient word recognition or decoding skills where they are accurately and automatically reading the words on the page without aid of context clues or pictures*. They also need fully developed language comprehension skills which references the ability to understand language. In order for a student to understand text, they need to decode the words on the page and then make meaning of the words, sentences, and overall text.  

Reading Comprehension= Word Recognition Skills x Language Comprehension Skills
Gough, P.B. & Tunmer, W.E. (1986). Decoding, Reading, and Reading Disability.

*Use of context clues and pictures is an acceptable comprehension strategy. The use of context in comprehension refers to something quite different from the use of context in word recognition. Examples of using context to aid in comprehension are determining the meaning of unknown words, understanding words with multiple meanings, and understanding pronoun referents. The use of context to aid comprehension should be consistently encouraged by teachers, although some contexts are more helpful than others for this purpose.

The Colorado Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act (READ Act), passed by the Colorado legislature in 2012, focuses on early literacy development for all students and especially for students at risk to not read at grade level by the end of the third grade. Deep knowledge in and practices that align with the science of reading are critical in student reading success. Educators must have a deep understanding of the art and science of reading to help every child become a lifelong reader. The following resources have been compiled to allow for different modes of exploring science of reading and reading research.  

Science of Reading Myths and Misconceptions

Listen about the Science of Reading 


APM Report Audio Documentaries on the Science of Reading 
The APM Reports team has produced four audio documentaries in the past few years about the way children are taught to read. Each of these documentaries covers important aspects of how students are currently learning to read in schools and what can be done to improve some of these practices.


Deconstructing the Rope: Decoding with Louisa Moats
Join Dr. Louisa Moats, President of Moats Associates Consulting, in the Science of Reading podcast as she unwinds decoding, a strand of Scarborough’s Reading Rope. Louisa highlights the significance of decoding in the science of reading and discusses the value of becoming students of our own language. She also mentions the reciprocal relationship between decoding and encoding and why both are essential to provide effective phonics instruction to children in the classroom. 

Conversation with Daniel Willingham on the Reading Wars
Author and University of Virginia psychology professor Daniel Willingham joins host Susan Lambert to discuss the “reading wars” (and mischaracterizations among their factions), the importance of understanding basic science to teach reading, and the variations in the implementation of the science of reading in literacy instruction across districts. 

Why We Stopped Teaching Children How to Read
In a Lexicon Valley episode, host John McWhorter and guest Mark Seidenberg, author of Language at the Speed of Sight, discuss the fallout from the reading wars. They discuss the different sides of the reading wars and what we’ve learned from reading research.   

Applying the Science of Reading at Any Grade Level
Susan Lambert hosts this episode with Laura Cusack, Executive Director of K–8 ELA Strategy at Amplify. They discuss the pandemic’s effects on literacy achievement and strategies how to make up for lost foundational skills while keeping students moving forward in grade-level learning. They also urge educators to make it a point to honor the diverse experience of their students during reading instruction.

What is the Science of Reading? Video
This short video presented by Dr. Holly Lane and the University of Florida Literacy Institute provides a brief overview of the science of reading and the different bodies of research that contribute to it. 

The Science of Reading Videos
A video series on the science of reading put together by The Reading League. The Reading League is a not-for-profit organization that supports educators as they bring the Science of Reading to classrooms. 

Read about and Study the Science of Reading 


Science of Reading -- Glossary of Terms
Learning about the science of reading can be overwhelming for those just starting out. Understanding the vocabulary being used is necessary in learning about reading research and effective practices. The CDE Literacy Team compiled this glossary of terms to help in this learning process.  

Science of Reading Booklist
Recommended science of reading resources put together by CDE staff. All titles are available for free checkout at your local public library through the Prospector program. Prospector is a unified catalog of academic, public, and special libraries in Colorado and Wyoming. 

Reading 101: A Guide to Teaching Reading and Writing
Reading 101 is a self-paced professional development course for K-3 teachers, developed by Reading Rockets. The program provides teachers with an in-depth knowledge of reading and writing so they are prepared to guide their students into becoming skilled and enthusiastic readers and writers.  

Mississippi Success Story
In the fall of 2019, Mississippi posted the highest growth of all states on the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP). These gains were particularly strong in reading, where Mississippi was the only state to show improvement on the fourth-grade reading assessment. There’s no way to know for sure what causes increases in test scores, but Mississippi has been doing something notable: making sure all of its teachers understand the science of reading. We’re looking to replicate Mississippi’s growth in Colorado through our READ Act efforts. 

Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties Course
Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties is an on-demand eLearning series that was developed by David Kilpatrick, Ph.D., in collaboration with the Specific Learning Disability Specialist in the Exceptional Student Services Unit of the Colorado Department of Education. Content of the online series was originally included in the book Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties (Wiley, 2015). 

CDE Recommended Additional Resources
This document links to free resources for further learning and is organized by topic organized by topic. 

IES Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade
The goal of this practice guide is to offer educators specific, evidence-based recommendations for teaching foundational reading skills to students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. The guide synthesizes the best available research on foundational reading skills and shares practices that are supported by evidence. It is intended to be practical and easy for teachers to use. 

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Because of their potential interest or usefulness to the education community or the general public, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) occasionally provides links from this site to external web sites. It attempts to monitor such links on a regular basis. However, the Department cannot be responsible for the content of any site external to its own.  

Further, by linking to other sites, CDE is not endorsing any particular product, practice, service, provider or institution, nor does it necessarily endorse views expressed or facts presented on these sites.  

In addition, neither CDE nor any of its employees makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information linked to from this site.  

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