A federal study on the effectiveness of different reading comprehension programs found three of the programs had no impact, while the fourth had a negative impact. None of the four—Project CRISS, ReadAbout, Read for Real, and Reading for Knowledge—was found to be effective.
It’s a dispiriting report, but Robert E. Slavin of the Success for All Foundation, makes an important point about it. He tells EdWeek’s Mary Ann Zehr that “IES-sponsored evaluations repeatedly evaluate programs by imposing them on teachers and school leaders who are not interested in them and are likely to implement them haphazardly, if at all, and then find, over and over again, that nothing works.”
There are is no shortage of bogus reading programs out there that overpromise and underdeliver. That said, fidelity of implementation is huge and nearly impossible to evaluate. There’s simply no effective way to tell if teachers believe in what they are teaching, simply going through the motions, or not using it at all. You can’t impose a curriculum on unwilling schools and teachers and expect it to work. High expectations matter for more than just students.