Not surprisingly many other voices and research studies continue to emerge. A popular framework and infographic is the Reading Rope concept. Staake defines the concept as follows: “Scarborough’s Rope contains two main sections: Word Recognition and Language Comprehension. Each of these comprises several smaller strands. Woven together, these strands become the rope that represents complete skilled reading” (Staake, 2021). Another approach is called Structured Literacy which focuses on the same five areas identified by the National Reading Panel report: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension.
Tim Shanahan, in an article devised to quell the wars, advises that decisions on how to teach reading should follow the research rather than what is trending. He reminds readers that reading scores rose after the publishing of the National Reading Panel report in 2000. He goes on to say that during the last 20 years additional research on evidence-based reading practices have added to NRP advice. This research includes the use of “topics like writing and spelling to improve reading, text complexity, teaching reading comprehension within science and social studies, differentiation of instruction, quality of instruction, and text structure” (Shanahan, 2021).
The plethora of definitions for the term Science of Reading are no more obvious than in 2020 and 2021 when the International Literacy Association (ILA) responded to the dramatic increase in the use of the term. The organization ended up publishing two separate issues of Reading Research Quarterly (RRQ): “Unpacking the Science of Reading” and “Making Sense of the Science of Reading.” A statement by its Board should make the complexity of the Science of Reading concept clear: “Hence, it is essential that educators operate fluidly as reading is neither fixed nor standardized but variable….To attend to learners as they learn to read their words, their worlds, and those of others, educators need to be informed by the arts and sciences” (ILA, 2020).
By July 2022, 29 states and D.C. had passed a requirement that schools use evidence-based reading programs, commonly described as Science of Reading programs (Schwartz, 2022). However, given the wide variety of definitions of the Science of Reading, the requirement lacks teeth. Dianna Townsend, a reading researcher, writes that most researchers agree that phonics instruction and comprehension have a positive impact on a student’s reading ability. However, she adds: “We can teach children to read words and make meaning from texts in systematic ways that honor children’s identity, agency and culture” (Townshend, 2021). Perhaps it is time to revisit the recommendations of the NRP Panel of 2000. Nancy Bailey, an experienced special education teacher, in her post “Time for a new National Reading Panel to Study Reading Instruction” writes: “More children with disabilities are taught to read in school along with their peers in general education classrooms. What programs help them to learn to read? How can schools serve children with disabilities inclusively and effectively?” (Bailey, 2021).