the National Reading Panel (NRP)
| Panel Meetings
October 19, 1998
Subgroup Chairs Meeting
The National Reading Panel subgroup
chairs met in Washington, DC on Monday, October 19 at
the Wyndham Bristol Hotel.
The meeting was started by Linnea Ehri
at 8:35 a.m.
Panelists attending were Donald Langenberg,
Ehri, Michael Kamil, Cora Marrett, S.J. Samuels, and
Presentation from EHRI
Dr. Ehri was first to present to the
subgroup chairs. She offered a proposal that reflected
her understanding of the consensus reached by the Panel
to date. She noted that the subgroups have already been
asked to identify a list of approaches used in teaching
and the findings or claims used to support them.
The purpose of the subgroup meetings,
as described by Ehri, was to review the current status
of the research review methodology to which Panel members
had agreed, identify which methodologies the Panel still
need to reach agreement on, and share this list of approaches
and questions with each of the subgroups. The goal is
to seek concurrence of the full Panel membership in
Proposal from Kamil
Dr. Kamil, noting what he perceived
as an absence of consensus, proposed some reorganization
of the Panels work. He said that the Comprehension
Subgroup had spent several days discussing his proposal,
noting that Sally Shaywitz had joined the subgroup in
Kamil said that one of the problems
facing the Panel is that there are two types of subgroups
most with a very narrow focus and one with a
broad focus (comprehension). The problem this structure
presents is that it eliminates a whole series of issues
in reading instruction because they dont fit into
one of the identified subgroups.
He said that given the time extension
of the Panels work (until January 2000), the group
now has an opportunity to ensure that the subgroups
reflect all significant areas of reading instruction.
It was noted that the original subgroups were selected
based on the National Research Council report, and that
those selections were not uniformly agreed to.
He proposed restructuring the committees
into three broad areas decoding, comprehension
and teachers. Decoding would be comprised of the Alphabetics
and Fluency Subgroups. Comprehension would remain the
same. The Teachers Subgroup would examine issues related
to teachers, materials and techniquesand would
include the issues under consideration by the existing
Technology, Professional Development, and Second Language
Discussion of Proposals
During a discussion of the two proposals,
attendees talked about the ultimate target audiences
for the Panels findings. These audiences include
policy makers at federal, state, and local levels; those
who develop textbooks and instructional materials; institutions
of higher learning; and the media. While Panel members
recognized the dangers of overpromising or trying to
accomplish too much in one report, they did express
understanding of the broad audiences awaiting their
Members also discussed how much more
can be studied now that the time frame for the Panel
had been extended by 14 months. It was agreed that some
of the subgroups specifically Alphabetics and
Fluency have made significant progress to date.
Dr. Langenberg suggested that the Panel
needs to think of its task as providing a map on the
learning of reading. Certain areas in which the research
is weak would still be noted in the report, but their
"terrain" could not be identified.
Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
(NICHD), joined the meeting at the end of this discussion.
The meeting recessed from 10:05 a.m.
to 10:22 a.m.
Recapping the Proposals
Following the recess, Dr. Langenberg
offered a summary of the mornings work to Dr.
Alexander for his input (which follows).
The subgroup chairs all agreed that
subgroup results already in hand constitute an essential
and substantial foundation for an expanded effort. While
the idea of renaming and regrouping the subgroups was
discussed, it seemed that most subgroup chairs preferred
to continue moving ahead in the identified areas. If
one or more subgroups essentially complete their work
on their original topics, their members might be reassigned
to other subgroups to address original topics.
The Panel should begin to expand the
number of topics it will address. Each of the existing
subgroups should develop a list of candidate topics.
The list should not be an all-inclusive menu, but should
include perhaps a half dozen to a dozen topics that
the members of each subgroup believe are among the most
important to address. Then the full Panel will merge
and prioritize the lists, using a single priority criterionrelevance
Some of the candidate topics for the
priority list may not have a corresponding research
literature of sufficient magnitude or quality to permit
reaching reportable conclusions. But such topics should
not be omitted from the priority list. The absence of
an adequate relevant research base then becomes a useful
and important observation to include in the Panels
Once the Panel has agreed on a topic
priority list, it can then determine whether there needs
to be any further restructuring of the subgroups, either
immediately or after the existing subgroups have completed
their present agendas.
Discussion with Alexander
Alexander said he was encouraged and
impressed by what the Panel has accomplished so far.
He said the methodology developed for the literature
analysis is a major contribution to the field. He also
commended the Panel for its chosen emphasis on relevance
He said the Panel charge could be broken
down into three different levels:
- What are the
primary things that a child needs to accomplish to
learn to read, and what does the research literature
have to say about that?
- How do we
teach each of these things that are important?
- How do we
teach teachers, and what evidence exists in the literature
that any given method of teacher preparation or training
is more effective?
Discussion of Resources
Alexander discussed a number of financial
resource questions that had been raised by the Panel.
He said that NICHD would continue to offer Panel members
the necessary resources to use research assistants.
He said that while the Panel could
use outside consultants or experts to come in and look
at its work and ensure that all pertinent angles were
addressed, the work produced by the Panel had to be
the Panels work. He recommended that assistance
continue to be provided through the research assistant
Alexander said he would have to look
into the question of augmenting salary for the Panel
during the extension period particularly the
He said there was no problem with publishing
technical reports on the Panels work, but said
those reports should not come out until after the Panel
has finished its work.
The meeting adjourned at 12:15 p.m.
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