Putting the Science of Reading into Practice

by | May 3, 2023


The Urgent Need for Change and the Path Forward for Educators: The Science of Reading (SoR) has been making waves in the education sector for some time now, and it’s becoming increasingly important for educators and school leaders to understand and implement its evidence-based principles. However, change is never easy.


With an array of challenges to overcome, educators and school leaders must learn how to successfully adopt and integrate the SoR to improve outcomes for all students. This article delves into the difficulties associated with putting the Science of Reading into practice and offers strategies for overcoming these obstacles.


Why is it So Challenging to Implement the Science of Reading?

  • Resistance to Change: Many educators have been using traditional reading instruction methods for years, and the transition to the SoR can be challenging. Resistance to change often stems from fear, lack of knowledge, or concerns about the time and effort required to adapt.


Real-life example: A veteran teacher who has seen multiple educational trends come and go may be skeptical of the SoR’s efficacy and may require additional support to fully embrace the new approach.


  • Insufficient Training and Professional Development: Educators may not be adequately trained in the SoR or have access to necessary resources, making it difficult for them to adopt new instructional practices.


Real-life example: A school district may need to invest in professional development and training for its teachers to ensure they are well-versed in the SoR and equipped with the tools needed to succeed.


The Science of Reading and Student Proficiency

Research has consistently shown that the SoR is effective in improving student reading proficiency. A National Reading Panel (2000) study found that students who received systematic phonics instruction, a key component of the SoR, demonstrated significant improvements in reading skills by the end of third grade.


Supporting Teachers and School Leaders in Implementing the Science of Reading

  • Invest in Professional Development: School leaders should prioritize and allocate funding for professional development and training to help teachers become well-versed in the SoR. This may include workshops, seminars, or in-house training sessions with SoR experts.


  • Provide Access to High-Quality Resources: School leaders can help teachers by ensuring they have access to high-quality, evidence-based reading materials and resources aligned with the SoR.


  • Establish a Collaborative Learning Environment: Promoting collaboration among teachers can help facilitate the sharing of best practices and provide a support network for those navigating the transition to the SoR.


Communicating Change and Gaining Buy-In from Teachers

  • Communicate the Why: To gain buy-in from teachers, school leaders must effectively communicate the reasons behind the shift to the SoR, emphasizing its evidence-based approach and the potential benefits for student outcomes.


  • Involve Teachers in Decision-Making: Involving teachers in the decision-making process can help ensure their voices are heard and can foster a sense of ownership and commitment to the change.


  • Celebrate Successes: As the SoR is implemented, it’s crucial to acknowledge and celebrate the progress and achievements of both students and teachers to maintain momentum and encourage continued growth.


Successfully implementing the Science of Reading in today’s classrooms may be challenging, but it is a necessary and worthwhile endeavor. It’s important to understand that schools will encounter obstacles and some challenges. However, providing support and resources to educators and effectively communicating the need for change, school leaders can help pave the way for improved reading outcomes for all students.