Reading for Understanding: Toward an R & D Program in Reading Comprehension

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9780833031051: Reading for Understanding: Toward an R & D Program in Reading Comprehension

In fall 1999, the Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) asked RAND to examine how OERI might improve thequality and relevance of the education research it funds. The RAND Reading Study Group (RRSG) was charged with developing a research framework to address the most pressing issues in literacy. RRSG focused on reading comprehension where in the highest priorities for research are: (1) Instruction: How can we best promote the development of proficient readingand prevent reading comprehension difficulties? (2) Teacher preparation and professional development: How can we prepare teachers to deliver effective comprehension instruction? (3) Assessment: How can we develop an assessment system for reading comprehension that includes the design of valid and reliable measures of self-regulated, strategic reading that are sensitive to instructional interventions? RRSG concluded that the research infrastructure must: (a) obtain long-term funding that is sustained across administrations and political constituencies; (b) acquire intellectual leadership that endures over a substantial time frame and is insulated from political forces; (c) synthesize knowledge across the various research initiatives in systematic ways; (d) enlist a cadre of well-trained investigators; and, (e) fund research that is rigorous and of high quality.

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From the Publisher:

In the fall of 1999, the Department of Education's Office of EducationalResearch and Improvement (OERI) asked RAND to examine how OERI mightimprove the quality and relevance of the education research it funds. As part ofthis work, RAND convened two study groups in the areas of reading and math-ematicseducation to develop long-term programs of research in the two fields.The RAND Reading Study Group (RRSG) is composed of 14 experts who repre-senta range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives in the field ofreading. This report is the product of their deliberations and of the valuablecommentary provided by various members of the reading research and practicecommunities.Researchers who study reading instruction and practitioners who teach readingwill find this report of interest because it lays forth a cohesive conceptualizationof reading comprehension as a process both to be studied and to be mindful ofduring reading instruction. It will be of primary interest, however, to federalagencies that support research on reading, most specifically OERI.The initial draft of the study group's report was released in February 2001 andwas distributed widely.The website allowed visitors tocomment directly on the report and to participate in discussions about key is-suesrelated to reading. In addition, the report was presented and discussed at amultitude of professional meetings. The RRSG used the public critiques toguide the Plan for Revision, which was posted on RAND's Achievement-for-Allwebsite in April 2001. RAND researchers and the study group members believedthat their ideas needed to be tested in discussion, in debate, and, ultimately, inresearch and practice. This report represents the end product of a series ofstrategies aimed at expanding the study group's thinking by seeking thoughtfulcommentary from other experts. We hope that this process has contributed tothe growth of an active reading community that believes in the goals of the pro-gramof research set forth in this report. We hope that this community is readyand eager to respond to solicitations for a federal research program in the areaof reading comprehension. This is the final version of the RRSG's report, but weanticipate that it will be a living document that is regularly revised over thecourse of the long-term program of research inquiry.The RAND project will produce a comparable report in the area of mathematicseducation research, prepared by the RAND Mathematics Study Group. RANDwill also prepare a report that documents lessons learned in using study groupsto develop programs of research and that outlines the support needed to suc-cessfullycontinue these programs and to develop new programs of research.Funding for this research was provided under a contract with OERI and wascarried out under the auspices of RAND Education and the Science andTechnology Policy Institute (S&TPI), a federally funded research and develop-mentcenter sponsored by the National Science Foundation and managed byRAND. Inquiries regarding RAND Education and the S&TPI may be directed tothe addresses below.Helga Rippen, Director Science and Technology Policy Institute tionRAND, 1200 South Hayes Street Arlington, VA 22202-5050 38(703) 413-1100 x5351 Email: stpi@rand.org

About the Author:

Snow is Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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