Teaching Reading: Effective Schools, Accomplished Teachers

Teaching Reading: Effective Schools, Accomplished Teachers

Teaching Reading: Effective Schools, Accomplished Teachers

Teaching Reading: Effective Schools, Accomplished Teachers


This unique book tells the story of a select group of schools and teachers who have managed to beat the odds in terms of improving elementary students reading achievement. Originating with the CIERA School Change Project directed by Barbara Taylor and David Pearson, it was subsequently expanded to include the work of other research teams doing similar work. It combines large scale studies of effective schools and teachers (Part I) with case studies of individual schools and teachers who have successfully transformed research findings into situation-specific strategies appropriate to their schools and classrooms (Parts II and III). The book's distinct contribution is showing that no matter how consistent the research findings on effective school and classroom practice, groups of teachers must improvise their own situation-specific programs and practices. In short, they must be able to create variations on a common theme. Key features of this outstanding new volume include:

Integration of research and cases --One cannot fully understand research-based general principles without knowing how they play themselves out in specific settings. Similarly, one cannot fully understand cases without seeing the commonalities across different schools and classrooms sharing similar goals. This book provides both perspectives.

Diverse cases --The schools and classrooms depicted in this book are urban, rural, and suburban; poor and middle class; and English-only and bilingual. Rather than telling readers how to beat the odds, it provides them with a wide variety of cases from which they can extrapolate to build their own customized teaching programs and practices.

Summarizing section --The final section contains a summary of research on effective schools and teachers and a concluding chapter by Gerry Duffy and Jim Hoffman in which they reflect on the book's content and possible directions for future research.

The book is targeted to both in-service elementary teachers and literacy students in advanced college courses.


Bringing the current volume into being has been a labor of love for those of us involved in its creation. Both terms in that metaphor, labor and love, are important. It has been hard work for all of us—the authors, editors, and publishing staff that actually produced the book, but, more importantly, the teachers and administrators who created the programs described in the pages of this book. But it is work borne out of love of learning and literacy, out of a conviction that all students in all schools can learn to read if teachers, administrators, and parents persist in searching for that optimal mix of materials, instructional approaches, personnel deployment, and programmatic features that suit their particular context, school, and students.

It all began in August of 1997 when the Office of Educational Research and Innovation informed our CIERA consortium (comprised of researchers from five cooperating universities—University of Michigan, University of Virginia, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, and University of Southern California) that we had been awarded a Cooperative Agreement to implement a research center focused on issues of early (pre-K through Grade 3) reading. Among the studies that we had agreed to implement in year 1 was what we came to call our CIERA Beat the Odds Study, which was the catalyst for the present volume. But more on the significance of the name later.

The Beat the Odds study, for us, was the first step in a 5-year study in which we wanted to study the process by which low-achieving schools built new reading programs that would, hopefully, lead to increased reading achievement. The ultimate question we wanted to answer was, What school-wide program features (administrative arrangements, collaborative practices, materials, professional development activities) and classroom instructional strategies (e.g., grouping practices, interaction strategies, curricular emphases) lead to increased student achievement? At the end of 5 years, we wanted to be in a position to offer districts, schools, and teachers advice about changes they might consider in their own reading programs. The logic of the Beat the Odds phase, in year 1, was simple. We reasoned that if we wanted to offer advice to low-achieving, high-poverty schools about programs and practices, we should begin by asking the experts (i.e., those teachers, administrators, and supervisors who work in . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.