Why do students struggle to read?

The Power of Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction

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See Why Literacy Instruction Matters

Reading affects all academic subjects, grade levels, and content areas. So when learners lack fluency in reading and comprehension skills, they struggle to solve problems, analyze and apply vocabulary knowledge, and use contextual clues to determine meanings and concepts. And students who struggle with reading often experience other academic, social, and emotional issues.

Instruction and activities grounded in evidence-based practices can support struggling readers at all grade levels. Systematic, explicit literacy instruction benefits all learners. First, we’ll discuss how students develop reading fluency, and then move on to the importance of using research- and evidence-based reading practices.

Learn About Reading Development

How students learn to read is complex, so it is essential for educators to understand how reading development occurs. One of the most important things to know about reading acquisition is that learners need accurate decoding skills plus strong language comprehension skills to be fluent in reading comprehension. Accurately pinpointing which skill(s) students need to develop allows educators to provide instructional literacy strategies that support learners’ needs and improve their reading skills.

Learners who have strong word recognition and language comprehension skills are considered typical readers. Students who can decode but struggle with comprehension may be at risk for poor oral language comprehension skills or hyperlexia. Identifying learners’ specific reading skills can drive decisions for literacy instruction.

Explore Five Components of Reading Instruction

Many elements are involved in teaching students to learn to read and read to learn. High quality literacy instruction can help educators support students in building these skills. Systematic, explicit instruction ensures learners accurately and efficiently orthographically map sounds and words. And when literacy instruction is systematic and explicit, it provides effective, meaningful instruction focused on five components of literacy: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. We’ll walk you through each of these components and share literacy strategies to implement with your students.

Identify Evidence-Based Practices in Literacy Instruction

Studies demonstrate that evidence-based reading practices lead to positive student outcomes. We’ll share insights about a few types of literacy instruction that tend to be overlooked, such as activities that build phonological and phonemic awareness, explicit instruction of phonics and high-frequency words, intentional teaching of vocabulary, and direct instruction of the writing process.

Examine Research-Based Reading Practices

Reading best practices grounded in research are beneficial to students of all abilities. Research-based reading activities and practices are versatile and may be used in whole-class instruction, with small groups, or during independent learning. You’ll learn about literacy strategies that improve reading skills, like graphic organizers, read‑alouds with dialogic questioning, shared and guided reading, self‑selected reading, and representation in reading instruction. To maximize the effectiveness of these practices and tools, they may be used with teacher modeling, monitoring, and feedback. The key to successfully implementing any instructional practice is to provide direct instruction, time to practice, and opportunities for feedback and reflection.

Consider Instructional Methodologies

How reading is taught is just as important as the components of literacy themselves. Different methods of instruction affect learning in different ways. And learners benefit from experiencing a variety of instructional methods that follow systematic, explicit routines and strategies. We’ll discuss when and why to use direct instruction, teacher modeling, teacher‑led instruction, instructional settings, interactive instruction, independent practice, and feedback.

Find Out How to Differentiate Reading Instruction

Differentiation means tailoring learning experiences for students based on their unique needs. And since differentiation is an individualized approach, it supports equitable teaching and learning practices. We’ll highlight the benefits and ways of implementing personalized instruction with advanced readers, struggling readers, students with dyslexia, learners who have had adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and students with IEPs.

Empower Administrators to Build a Support System

Administrators ensure educators and personnel are supported and trained in literacy instruction using research- and evidence-based practices. With district-level administrators, they create and implement literacy plans that consider and set goals for all students. There are numerous ways administrators can help learners and teachers use evidence-based practices, which helps literacy skills.

Remember the Relevance

Literacy is an essential tool for students to make connections and build knowledge. Reading instruction that uses evidence-based methods and practices is crucial for all learners to be successful in reading.