the National Reading Panel (NRP)
Meetings Archive |
July 24-25, 1998
July 24, 1998
The National Reading Panel met in Bethesda,
MD on Friday, July 24 in Conference Room 10 in Building
31C at the National Institutes of Health.
The meeting was called to order by
George Gaines, liaison officer for the National Institute
of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at 9:05
Panelists attending were Donald Langenberg,
Gloria Correro, Linnea Ehri, Gwenette Ferguson, Norma
Garza, Michael Kamil, Cora Marrett, S.J. Samuels, Sally
Shaywitz, Thomas Trabasso, Joanna Williams, and Dale
Willows. Joanne Yatvin was conferenced in via telephone
from Sweden, and Tim Shanahan was conferenced in via
telephone from Jamaica.
Dr. Langenberg welcomed the Panel and
announced that due to other commitments, Robert Glaser
determined he was unable to continue serving on the
Panel. It was determined that at this stage in the process,
it was most prudent to continue the Panels work
with only 14 members.
Langenberg also announced that Mary
McCarthy, a school psychologist in Montgomery County,
Maryland had joined the Panel staff as a consultant.
She will be joined on the staff by Judy Rothenberg,
serving as secretary to the executive director, and
Jessica McCloud, a summer student providing general
Remarks on Regional Meetings and NRP
Dr. Langenberg then introduced Dr.
Duane Alexander, Director of NICHD.
Dr. Alexander congratulated the Panel
on a successful series of regional meetings. He noted
that the five regional meetings in Chicago, Portland
(OR), Houston, New York, and Jackson (MS) generated
a great deal of interest and attendance. He noted that
in Mississippi, the one overwhelming and overriding
message he heard was that parents, teachers, professors,
legislators, public officials, and others are counting
very heavily on the Panel for help.
Alexander then directed his remarks
to the Panels charge. He said that much of what
the Panel heard during the regional meetings went well
beyond the charge from Congress. Alexander noted that
while this is typical for a Panel of this type, Panelists
must remember that their responsibility is to "assess
the status of research-based knowledge." The only
way to do this, said Alexander, is to review the literature
in which original research is reported, and focus on
the term "knowledge".
Alexander reiterated that it was Congress
intent that high scientific quality standards be used
by this Panel in doing its work. He urged the Panel
to "set the bar high" as it goes about its
task of evaluating reported research.
Discussion of NRP Charge
The Panel began discussion of its charge.
Dr. Alexander explained NICHD determined the seven questions
in its charge through conversations with the original
legislations authors in Congress.
The Panel discussed interpretations
of the Congressional charge and the intent of language
included in it such as "research gaps," as
well as "instructional approaches." They also
discussed the intended focus of activities, such as
limiting the study as the National Academy of Sciences
did. In addressing this, Panel members raised issues
associated with examination of the pre-reading experience,
comprehension, and the importance of teacher preparation,
training and ongoing and professional development.
The Panel recessed from 10:18 a.m.
to 10:35 a.m.
Setting Dates for Future Meetings
F. William Dommel, Jr. executive director
of the Panel asked Panel members to confirm availability
for future meeting dates. While acknowledging that much
of the primary work for the Panel would be conducted
by subcommittees, Dommel said it was necessary to identify
some meeting times for the full Panel. Dates set were
September 10th, October 19th, and November 10th.
Discussion of Reading Aquisition and
Panel members turned their attention
to coming up with a definition of reading acquisition
that would guide their review of researchaddressing
issues related to age of the learner and the value or
drawbacks of limiting the study to research on children
and not adults, measurement methods, and appropriate
topics and sources of research. After lengthy discussion,
Langenberg encouraged Panel members to keep these ideas
"on the table" as subcommittees proceed on
Willows, Correro and Kamil raised questions
about inclusion of teacher preparation in the Panels
study. Panel members agreed that it would be appropriate
to study the research on professional development and
teacher trainingdetermining that the topic merits
attention of subgroup inquiry, as opposed to including
aspects of teacher preparation in review of research
conducted by other subgroups.
Report from the Alphabetics Subgroup
Dr. Ehri provided a report from the
Alphabetics subgroup. She indicated that the subgroup
has conducted a review of the literature and will continue
that search. The goal of the alphabetics committee is
to examine what research reveals about alphabetic processes
in learning to read, and how to help children acquire
them. It was noted that Dr. Ehri synthesized the subgroup
research for the Panel.
Report from the Comprehension Subgroup
Dr. Kamil provided a report from the
Comprehension subgroup. He offered the Panel a model
of the components of comprehension, putting together
a set of four categories of variable that contribute
to comprehension reader variables, text variables,
task variables, and instructional variables.
Report from the Fluency Subgroup
Dr. Shanahan provided a report from
the Fluency subgroup. He explained that the Fluency
subgroup was working on a search similar to that undertaken
by the Alphabetics subgroup. He said the subgroup is
going to try to identify the component processes of
fluency, determine what the relationship of fluency
is with word recognition and comprehension, and describe
the developmental progression of fluency, learning and
development. He also expects they will explore the relationship
between oral and silent reading, and will look at the
effectiveness of various instructional approaches and
procedures for teaching fluency.
Report from the Second Language Subgroup
Dr. Kamil and Dr. Willows provided
a report from the Second Language subgroup. The Second
Language subgroup is looking at second language reading
reviews that have already been completed, such as from
the Handbook of Reading Research by Elizabeth Bernhardt.
The subgroup has identified eight separate areas of
research that are emphasized in the reviews and current
literature: affective factors, text structure, syntactic
features, word knowledge, instruction, reading/writing
relationships, testing or assessment, and cross-lingual
Report from the Technology Subgroup
Dr. Kamil provided a report from the
Technology subgroup. He noted that he had done a literature
review on the subject before the Panel was created and
was working from that research. The subgroup is looking
at several issues, including: comparisons of new technologies
with old technologies, studies of the effects of new
technology without older counterparts, human/computer
interactions, the motivational effects of technology
on literacy development, and teaching and instruction
Panel Computer Communication Upgrade
The Panel heard a presentation from
Linda Bennett of the Information Resource Management
Branch of NICHD. She discussed the possibility of enhancing
the Panels current means of communicating via
list serve and establishing an electronic chat room
for members to share communications.
Discussion of Structure of NRP Subgroups
Dr. Langenberg led a discussion of
the structure of the Panels subgroups, focusing
on Panelist concerns that the subgroups appear to have
greatly different workloads and subject areas to cover.
He noted that the Panel has essentially
called for the creation of a Teacher Education and Professional
Development subgroup, and suggested that the work of
one or more of the existing subgroups could be subsumed
by another subgroup.
Dr. Alexander stressed how second-language
learning has been identified as a priority in the pending
congressional appropriations bills.
It was recommended that second language
and technology draft reports on their issues for inclusion
in the Panels findings.
Dr. Marrett was designated chair of
the Teacher Education and Professional Development subgroup.
Yatvin, Williams, Correro, Garza, Kamil, Shanahan, Ferguson,
and Langenberg indicated their interest in serving on
Panel members also discussed the importance
of conducting a general literature search to capture
any data relevant to the charge that does not fall within
the subgroups jurisdiction.
The Panel recessed for a one-hour lunch
Report from the Selection and Assessment
Dr. Shaywitz offered a report from
the Selection and Assessment Criteria subgroup. She
highlighted orders of evidence, quality of the evidence,
and the decision procedures related to research. Shaywitz
said that the committee recommends sytematic search
rules to govern the process and avoid biasing the outcome.
She noted that not all types of evidence are most appropriate
for different questions, that not all research designs
are equal, and set forth a set of criteria for consideration:
The study must be published in a peer-reviewed
journal; the study participaants should be carefully
described in terms of age, socio-demographic factors,
cognitive factors, academic and behavior characteristics.
The intervention must be described insufficient detail
to allow replicability, and the methods should allow
judgments about how instructional fidelity was ensured.
A full description of the outcome measure must be included.
Discussion of Selection and Assessment
Dr. Kamil asked the Panel not to place
a complete reliance on electronic searches and control
groups. He also asked that the appropriate analysis
of data be included in the criteria.
Panel members also discussed the value
of ethnographic case studies, observations, control
groups, and other types of research methodologies that
could yield important findings for Panel consideration
Dr. Shanahan noted that the point of
this kind of a strategy is to come up with clearly defined,
replicable descriptions of what you are doing, so other
people can trace the trail, and check the quality of
evidence. It also allows for the representation of the
data in an unbiased or a less biased way.
The Panel took a break from discussion
of selection and assessment criteria to entertain public
comment at the previously appointed time.
Two people were present to offer public
comment to the Panel.
First, was Hazeline Harris, a representative
of Reading is Fundamental and Title I reading program
supervisor for Arlington, VA public schools. She said
a significant problem in reading is parents not always
being involved in childrens learning. The volunteer-based
RIF works hard to involve parents in the process.
The Panel next heard from Andrew Hartman,
director of the National Institute for Literacy. He
detailed that his organization is an interagency group
that works with the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor,
and Health and Human Services, focusing on literacy
and literacy development. He said the research indicates
that learning disabilities and reading difficulties
aren't something that are "cured," making
age limitations of the Panels study difficult.
He urged the Panel not stray from its original charge;
to weigh the value of various research and determine
a gold or bronze standard of research; to validate the
need for additional research on adolescents and adults,
or the actual implications of the available research
in this arena. Lastly, he underscored the importance
of the Panels work in sending messages about the
absence of knowledge pertaining to adolescent and adult
reading that would createfor Congress, the general
public and the pressa definition of reading that
recognizes people can and could improve their reading
skills beyond fourth grade.
Selection and Criteria A Sample
The Panel then heard from Vinita Chhabra,
a Panel staff member. She reviewed the methodological
approaches discussed during the inaugural meeting.
She discussed using a research request
tool that would help focus the searches of existing
research requests through the use of meta-analyses.
The Panel decided the tool was not the most effective
means for its research and agreed to continue development
of core research criteria and guidelines.
Continuation of Selection and Assessment
The Panel agreed to finalize the Selection
and Assessment Criteria by including suggestions offered
earlier in the day. The Panel also discussed guidelines
for eliminating items that result from research searches
and agreed to take up its discussion of Selection and
Assessment Criteria when they return in the morning.
Preliminary Discussion of the NRP
Report and Dissemination
Dr. Langenberg noted that the regional
meetings highlighted the publics eagerness to
receive the Panels finding. He highlighted possible
dissemination tools such as creating: a National Reading
Panel final report, National Reading Panel summary report,
a series of target-audience publications including Panel
findings, website design and promotion, focus groups,
hosting a National "What Works" Forum on Reading,
policy maker and industry briefings, news conference
and a national media campaign, forging public/private
sector partnerships, producing a National Reading Panel
video and workshop discussion guide, conducting a public
service informational campaign, and using interactive
kiosks, conference presentations, displays, speaking
opportunities, professional development efforts, local
cable access, and toll-free phone number.
Panelists also discussed many upcoming
reading-focused conferences that would be interested
in the Panels findings.
The National Reading Panel concluded
its Friday meeting at 4:35 p.m., agreeing to meet again
the next morning.
July 25, 1998
Continued Discussion of Selection
and Assessment Criteria
The Panel began its morning session
by discussing a proposal offered by Dr. Trabasso on
the procedures and criteria to be used to answer the
Panels charge. The proposal would put many decisions
in the hands of the Panels subgroups and relies
on individual Panel members to make qualitative decisions
about the research being studied.
Dr. Langenberg discussed how the Panel
needs to think in terms of how its findings can reach
key stakeholders such as teachers and
how those stakeholders will take the findings and act
Dr. Yatvin discussed her ideas for
how to bring the number of articles in the literature
search down to a manageable level, and then how could
to evaluate this manageable number in a systematic way.
Dr. Langenberg suggested that the Panel
seek a way to blend Trabassos and Yatvins
plans. He also noted that plans were being discussed
to provide Panel members with funding for help from
The Panel then re-opened its discussion
on the assessment standards offered the day before by
Shaywitz and Shanahan. After much discussion, the Panel
determined that each subgroup should attempt to draft
assessment standards for its area of study.
It was agreed that each subgroup would
work on a prototypic problem, using all the procedures
offered to the Panel (Shaywitz/Shanahan, Trabasso, Yatvin).
The Panel agreed that each subgroup
would try to meet before the next Panel meeting, scheduled
for September 10. September 9 would also be made available
for subgroup meetings in Washington.
Dr. Langenberg adjourned the meeting
at 12:47 p.m.
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