Whether you are looking to improve your child’s reading skills in and out of the classroom or homeschooling your child you will want to know how to select an effective reading program because it can deliver results and improve standardized test scores.

Unfortunately, not all reading programs are created equally and that is why it is difficult to know how to select an effective reading program.

Some programs are developed by individuals who see a “new way” to provide fundamental reading skills through untested theories based on a handful of studies, not to mention a large helping of flashy graphics and colors.

Many of these programs are mere “toys,” designed to entertain and make reading fun while neglecting the vast amount of research on direct or explicit instruction techniques that are currently used in real classrooms.

Unless these reading programs offer a curriculum based upon the National Reading Panel research and direct instruction model, they are simply less effective when it comes to teaching children how to read.

Why is direct instruction so important when you want to know how to select an effective reading program.

First of all, since the beginning of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), US classrooms use the direct instruction model to meet standardized testing goals.

It certainly makes sense to align your child’s supplemental reading programs with the way they are being taught in the classroom, not to mention the way they are being actually tested and evaluated at the end of the year. This is one of the quickest criteria as you learn how to select an effective reading program.

By using a reading program that doesn’t use the direct instruction model and does not directly align with the core curriculum instruction used at schools, your child will probably wind up confused and overloaded with conflicting information.

Secondly, direct instruction works. In a monumental 1997-1999 study conducted by the National Reading Panel (NRP), over 100,000 reading studies were evaluated for overall effectiveness [1]. NRP’s conclusion after reviewing all of this literature was that direct instruction was by far the most effective learning model in education. In fact, all current direct instruction models, including the Reading First Federal Initiative set by NCLB, are based upon NRP’s research.

Now that you know how important the direct instruction model is, you’re probably asking yourself “What exactly is direct instruction?” The direct instruction model was developed at the University of Illinois back in 1964, so it’s been with us for a while. There are three basic components to direct instruction: design, delivery and error correction. Here’s a quick breakdown of each component:


In the design component of a direct instruction model, all concepts are broken down into manageable steps so that students have appropriate pre-skills and prior knowledge by the time the information is presented.

Clear and concise language is used so that all concepts are understood the first time. Model skills and steps are used to complete learning tasks and ensure understanding. Guided practice is used by the teacher to support learning, and multiple examples are used in a carefully planned sequence to build independence. Previously learned knowledge is constantly integrated to ensure progress, and student learning is continually assessed and monitored along the way.

Delivery is important when learning how to select an effective reading program

how to select an effective reading program Delivery is concerned with the way the direct instruction model is implemented. All lesson plans are followed exactly to ensure consistency from throughout the instructional program. Instruction is modeled and practiced.

Quick pacing and interactive responses are used to keep the student engaged with the lesson. Planned correction procedures (see Error Correction below) are used to prevent errors from becoming learned habits. Finally, positive reinforcement is used to motivate students to excel.