"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, January 04, 2010

LEARN and its ancestors

LEARN is the child of READING FIRST and grandchild of the NATIONAL READING PANEL. And it is more powerful than its ancestors.

According to the Senate version, LEARN includes:

K-3: "…. systematic, and explicit instruction in phonological awareness, phonic decoding, vocabulary, reading fluency, and reading comprehension"

These are the "five essential components" of reading, according to the National Reading Panel, taught the way the NRP concluded they should be taught, by direct and explicit instruction.

The recent article about LEARN in the IRA publication Reading Today explicitly states that LEARN is an expansion of Reading First, Early Reading First, and Striving Readers, all skill-based programs.

And LEARN expands the skill focus to the upper grades:
4-12: " … direct and explicit instruction that builds academic vocabulary and strategies and knowledge of text structure for reading different kinds of texts within and across core academic subjects"

So here is the history:

First was the National Reading Panel, thoroughly destroyed by Garan, Coles, Allington, me, others …

The result was Reading First, based on the National Reading Panel, which failed every empirical test it was subjected to.

The reward for the double failure: LEARN, which expands the failed method to all grades.

LEARN is supported by the IRA and NCTE.


  1. Al Frager9:31 PM

    It didn't start wth the National Reading Panel. It started with A Sterl Artley and the Scott Foresman basal readers. They set the pattern which is dominant in schools today - teachers don't teach reading, programs do.

  2. Al Frager - "... teachers don't teach reading, programs do."
    Amen. And for all the belly aching so many make about holding teachers accountable, they are unwittingly giving teachers cover with these programs. Because if I'm following the program, and my evaluator (principal usually) agrees I am following this "research-based" program, then don't come crying to me if our test scores aren't up and/or students aren't reading better... I'm following the program.

    And isn't it ironic that with the billions we've spent on these programs over the years (a bailout for publishers?) the publishers are never mentioned as being responsible for the failure of our students to read well, they're just given more money to design a new program to sell to schools that will hopefully be teacher-proof this time, after-all ... it's all the teachers' and schools' fault.