CMEC has just published PCAP-13 2007: Report on Reading Strategies and Reading Achievement, the third in a series of research projects in which the PCAP-13 2007 data set is used to examine questions of interest to educational policy-makers and practitioners in Canada. It focuses on the factors that contribute to the performance of 13-year-old Canadian students in reading.
Reading research consistently shows that high-achieving students are characterized by word-recognition and comprehension skills. The aim of employing reading strategies is to achieve fluent reading. Two essential skills in reading are: getting meaning from a written message (Carroll, 1970), and reading for remembering (Baker & Brown, 1984). Fluent reading involves understanding the meaning of a text beyond simple decoding and word recognition, which requires practice with a variety of texts (Pressley, 2006).
Reading at home contributes to overall reading competency. When schools encourage children to practise reading at home with parents, the children make significant gains in reading achievement compared to those who only practise at school (Henderson & Berla. (1994).
A major task of teaching-strategy research is to show which process factors "work." For example, Wang and Walberg (2001) set out 12 principles for "instructional effectiveness" at the teacher and classroom levels. These are:
1. supportive classroom climate where teacher functions as model and socializer;
2. opportunity to learn where most of the available time is allocated to engaging students
in curriculum-related activities;
3. curricular alignment and cohesive program to accomplish instructional goals;
4. establishing learning orientations, that is, structure to clarify intended outcomes and cue desired learning strategies;
5. coherent, connected content to facilitate meaningful learning and retention;
6. thoughtful discourse around powerful ideas;
7. practice, application, and feedback activities;
8. scaffolding students' task engagement;
9. strategy teaching, where the teacher models and instructs students in learning and self regulation
10. cooperative learning to construct understandings or help one another master skills;
11. learning goal-oriented assessment in which a variety of formal and informal assessment methods are used to monitor progress;
12. follow-through on learning-outcome achievement expectations.