National Reading Panel

"When a subcommittee report asserts that a particular instructional technique "improves children's reading," the public deserves to know whether the authors mean word calling, speed, smoothness, literal comprehension, or the ability to assimilate a subtle and complex set of ideas."


Babes in the Woods: The Wanderings of the National Reading Panel

By Joanne Yatvin

From the choice of participants to serve on the National Reading Panel to the hasty release of an uncorrected, undeliberated, and unapproved subcommittee report, the procedure used by the NRP was flawed, Ms. Yatvin — a member of the panel — charges. Now government agencies at all levels are using the "science" of the NRP report to support their calls for changes in school instruction and teacher education.

[This is the questionable research our district Six administrators referred to when explaining to the school board their decision to implement the Houghton Mifflin Reading Program in all elementary classrooms]
Entire article at

Submitted by By Joanne Yatvin to New York Times but not published 05/02/2008

As the dissenting member of the National Reading Panel, on whose report Reading First is based, I am not surprised that the program has failed to show improvement in student comprehension. The five components that the Panel identified were too few and mechanistic, and their presentation implied that all are of equal weight and that comprehension stands at the end of the line.

In visiting schools over the past five years, I have seen the sad spectacle of lifeless teaching, shoddy materials, and shallow learning brought into classrooms by Reading First — What the Department of Education has never understood — and the Reading Panel failed to make clear — is that reading is comprehension and all else are accessories.

Joanne Yatvin

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