Direct Instruction Not Best Way to Teach Reading
A three-year study of methods of teaching reading in the first three grades shows that highly scripted, teacher-directed methods of teaching reading are not as effective as traditional methods that allow a more flexible approach.
The study, headed by Randall Ryder, professor of curriculum and instruction in the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee's School of Education, also found that teachers felt the most highly scripted method, known as Direct Instruction (DI), should be used in limited situations, not as the primary method of teaching students to read.
Urban teachers in particular expressed great concern over the DI's lack of sensitivity to issues of poverty, culture, and race. Ryder's study, completed in the summer of 2003, also showed that:
Students who received direct instruction in the first three grades scored significantly lower on overall reading achievement than students receiving the more traditional forms of instruction. They also scored significantly lower on measures of comprehension.
First graders in the urban school district who received Direct Instruction scored significantly lower on decoding and comprehension than students receiving more traditional forms of reading instruction. These results were consistent across three consecutive school years.
Overall, students who received more traditional forms of reading instruction scored significantly greater gains than students receiving Direct Instruction.
Study: Direct Instruction Not Best Way to Teach Reading - A three-year study of methods of teaching reading in the first three grades. University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee's School of Education, 2003.