More than twenty years have passed since the National Reading Panel (NRP) (2000) report attempted to answer the question: Does comprehension strategy instruction improve reading? After reviewing about 200 studies on comprehension strategy instruction, the NRP divided reading instruction into the “Big Five” components. The NRP recommended explicitly teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Despite the panel’s expertise, national reading scores (NAEP, 2022) indicate persistently poor performance of most 4th and 8th graders after more than two decades since the NRP report. At the same time, a preponderance of evidence from scientifically based research continues to pursue improved reading performance by aligning instructional practices to the science of reading. For instance, the science of reading aims to advance explicit and systematic instruction in how students decode words, including the word part analysis of syllables. Nevertheless, longstanding literacy practices of how to teach reading, such as instruction based on the three-cueing miscue analysis, endure despite scientific evidence. Admittedly, researchers recognize the limitations of interpreting scientific discoveries into effective classroom practices even with promising advances in reading instruction. Without practitioner-informed translation of scientifically aligned decoding instruction, two decades of data from typical literacy practices informed by the NRP reveal the limited likelihood of improving reading performance. Supporting a scientific change process towards a set of comprehensive practices that ensure reading proficiency for all students depends on the classroom contributions of practitioners.

Date of publication

Summer 8-4-2023

Document Type




Persistent identifier



Doctorate in School Improvement

Included in

Education Commons



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