The National Reading Panel reviewed quantitative studies of teacher preparation in the area of strategy instruction for reading comprehension and found four that met their methodological criteria. The conclusions drawn from these few studies reinforce the findings above, suggesting that to be effective teachers required extensive instruction in explaining what they were teaching, modeling their thinking processes, encouraging student inquiry, and keeping students engaged. But the studies provided little guidance on which aspects of the teacher preparation were most effective (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000).


In the area of reading comprehension, the panel proposes four initiatives:

  1. to conduct R&D on assessments of reading comprehension;

  2. to conduct R&D on the teacher knowledge requirements for effective use of proven approaches to metacognitive strategy instruction;

  3. to advance the knowledge base on the components of effective comprehension instruction across grades; and

  4. to undertake a benchmarking effort to define expectations for comprehension across the school years.

Initiative 1: Assessments of Comprehension

All research on the effectiveness of interventions to support reading comprehension requires that the phenomenon of comprehension be measured. In laboratory research, different levels of text comprehension can be distinguished (Kintsch, 1998; Graesser et al., 1997). Comprehension can be deep in the sense that the information is integrated with prior knowledge and can be used for problem solving or other purposes. In contrast, comprehension can be shallow, focusing on the text itself. In this case, new knowledge is inert; it is not integrated into the reader’s general knowledge base or used when applicable for problem solving.

Current reading comprehension assessments do not effec-

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement