Spoiler alert: The hard part about reading instruction is not figuring out how to teach reading. We actually know quite a bit about that. There has been renewed interest in discussing the findings of the 2000 National Reading Panel report on the importance of phonics-based instruction in the early grades. The popularity of Emily Hanford’s radio documentary “Hard Words” and Susan Pimentel’s Education Week Commentary “Why Doesn’t Every Teacher Know the Research on Reading Instruction?”— and the conversations both stirred — underscore that how we teach reading is far from settled, even 20 years after the publication of the panel’s report.
For school and district leaders, the hard part about reading instruction is leading a highly effective implementation and sticking to the plan long enough for the work to have a meaningful impact.