The Research Base for Direct Instruction and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is extensive, stretching back nearly forty years. On this page of the site, we will provide you with information on some of that research.
The linchpin of DI's empirical validation is Project Follow-Through. Project Follow Through (1968-1995) was the largest educational evaluation ever conducted. Follow Through compared the effects of different curricula on 75,000 children from all parts of the country, in 180 communities. The file "Project Follow Through " provides a concise summary of what Follow-Through entailed and the main results.
For a more in-depth analysis of this massive educational evaluation project, the scholarly journal Effective School Practices, out of the University of Oregon, published a special issue on Project Follow Through. You can access that journal issue by clicking the link above.
Dr. Bonnie Grossen, of the University of Oregon, provides a comprehensive overview of "The Research Base for Reading Mastery," as well as "A Synthesis of Research on Reading From the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development." Both articles also contain extensive references to other scientific research on the acquisition of literacy skills.
In addition, Dr. Kerry Hempenstall, of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, has researched Direct Instruction extensively, and is one of the world's leading experts on DI. We have included two of his many publications here.
- (2002). Phonological processing and phonics: Towards an understanding of their relationship to each other and to reading development. Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, 7, 4-28.
- The Use Of Direct Instruction Reading Programs For Beginning Readers And For Remedial Non-Readers
Our choice of a Direct Instruction Curriculum for the Hillcrest Reading Program, was based upon Martin Kozloff's, Eric Irizarry's and my own knowledge of this extensive research base (more references are provided below) and on Martin's and my prior experience with implementing DI in schools. In 1999, in collaboration with our friend and colleague, Frances Bessellieu (formerly a special education teacher), we worked with the New Hanover County Schools to implement Reading Mastery in area schools. The pilot for those efforts was a Summer School implementation, which produced positive results in a very short period of time, not only in terms of reading skills but also in regard to classroom management, children's attitudes toward school, and teachers' perceptions of Direct Instruction. We have provided links to articles and reports summarizing some of our findings.
- Direct Instruction Implementation, New Hanover County Summer School
- Explicit Instruction and Learning Communities
- Teachers’ Perceptions of Direct Instruction Teaching
For further information, the following comprises a selected list of serious, scientific research into the effectiveness of direct, explicit instruction in regard to a variety of desired educational outcomes.
Adams, G.L., & Engelmann, S. (1996). Research on Direct Instruction: 25 years beyond DISTAR. Seattle, WA: Educational Achievement Systems.
Anderson, R.C., Heibert, E.H., Scott, J.A., & Wilkinson, I.A.G. (1985). Becoming a nation of readers: The report of the Commission on reading. Champaign, IL: The Center for the Study of Reading.
Becker, W., & Carnine, D.W. (1981). Direct instruction: A behavior theory model for comprehensive educational intervention with the disadvantaged. In S.W. Bijou & R. Ruiz (Eds.), Behavior modification: Contributions to education (pp. 145-210). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Binder, C. (1996). Behavioral fluency: Evolution of a new paradigm. The Behavior Analyst, 19, 163-197.
Bock, G., Stebbins, L., & Proper, E. (1977). Education as experimentation: A planned variation model (Volume IV-A & B). Effects of follow through models. Washington, D.C.: Abt Associates.
Brophy, J.E., & Good, T.L. (1986). Teacher behavior and student achievement. In M.C. Witrock (Ed.), Third handbook of research on teaching (pp. 328-375). New York: McMillan.
Carr, E.G., Taylor, J.C., & Robinson, S. (1991). The effects of severe behavior problems in children on the teaching behavior of adults. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 24(3), 523-535.
Donenberg, G., & Baker, B.L. (1993). The impact of young children with externalizing behaviors on their families. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 21(2), 179-198.
Ellis, A.K., & Fouts, J.T. (1993). Research on educational innovations. Princeton Junction, NJ: Eye on Education.
Ellis, E.S., Worthington, L.A., & Larkin, M.J. (1994). Executive summary of the research synthesis on effective teaching principles and the design of quality tools for educators. University of Oregon: National Center to Improve the Tools of Educators. http://www.darkwing.uoregon.edu/~ncite/otherRsc/tech06.html
Engelmann, S. (1992). War against the schools' academic child abuse. Portland, OR: Halcyon House.
Espin, C.A., & Deno, S.L. (1993). Performance in reading from content area text as an indicator of achievement. Remedial and Special Education, 14, 6, 47-60.
Grossen, B. (1997). What does it mean to be a research-based profession. Eugene, OR: University of Oregon School of Education. On-line at
Grossen, B. (1996). How shall we group to achieve excellence with equity? Eugene, OR: University of Oregon.
Gunter, P.L., Hummel, J.H., & Conroy, M.A. (1998). Increasing correct academic responding: An effective intervention strategy to decrease behavior problems. Effective School Practices, 17, 2, 55-62.
Hart, B., & Risely, R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore, MD: P.H. Brookes.
Hintze, J.M., Shapiro, E.S., Conte, K.L., & Baslie, I.M. (1997). Oral reading fluency and authentic reading material: Criterion validity of the technical features of CBM survey-level assessment. School Psychology Review, 26, 4, 535-553.
Hirsch, E.D. Jr. (1996). The schools we need and why we don't have them. New York: Doubleday.
Jones, E.D., Southern, W.T., & Brigham, F.J. (1998). Curriculum-based assessment: Testing What is Taught and Teaching What is Tested. Intervention in School and Clinic, 33, 4, 239-250.
Kameenui, E.J., & Carnine, D.W. (1998). Effective teaching strategies that accommodate diverse learners. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.
Madelaine, A., & Wheldall, K. (1998). Towards a curriculum-based passage reading test for monitoring the performance of low-progress readers using standardized passages: A validity study. Educational Psychology, 18, 4, 471-479.
Maloney, M. (1998). Teach your children well. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
Montgomery, A.F., & Rossi, R.J. (1994). Becoming at risk of failure in America's schools. In R.J. Rossi (Ed.) Schools and students at risk. New York: Teachers College Press.
Patterson, Gerald R (1986). Performance Models for Antisocial Boys. American Psychologist, 41, 4, 432-444.
Patterson, G.R. (1980). Mothers: The unacknowledged victims. Monograph of the Society for Research on Child Development, 45 (15), Serial Number 186.
Patterson, G.R. (1982). Coercive family processes. Eugene, OR: Castaglia.
Patterson, G.R., & Reid, J.B. (1984). Social interaction processes within the family: The study of the moment-by-moment family transactions in which human development is embedded. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 5, 237-262.
Patterson, G.R., Reid, J.B., & Dishion, T.J. (1989). Antisocial boys. Eugene, Or: Cataglia.
Rosenshine, B. (1986). Synthesis of research on explicit teaching. Educational Leadership, 43, 60-69.
Rosenshine, B., & Stevens, (1986). Teaching functions. In M.C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (Third edition) (pp 376-391). New York: McMillan.
van de Rijt-Plooij, H.H.C., & Plooij, F.X. (1993). Distinct periods of mother-infant conflict in normal development: Sources of progress and germs of pathology. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 34 (2), 229-245.
Vitale, M. (1998). Direct Instruction Teaching Skills: Diagnostic Checklist. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University School of Education.
Walberg, H.J. (1990). Productive teaching and instruction: Assessing the knowledge base. Phi Delta Kappan, February, 470-478.
Walker, H.M., Colvin, G., & Ramsey, E. (1995). Antisocial behavior in school: Strategies and best practices. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Watkins, C. (1997). Project Follow Through: A case study of contingencies influencing instructional practices of the educational establishment. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.