To determine if a published review has merit, it is critical to understand the reviewer's criteria and methods. The following chart compares four organizations that review and evaluate reading programs. The chart highlights key differences in the system used by What Works Clearinghouse.
WWC’s biggest shorcoming is that it does not consider the purpose or implementation of studies. Dr. Grover Whitehurst, Director of the Institute of Education Sciences, confirmed WWC’s limited scope of evaluation when he stated: “WWC emphasizes the methodological and statistical characteristics of the research it reviews. WWC does not concern itself with a conceptual analysis of the strategies on which educational programs are based or with the degree to which programs are aligned with particular principles.”
Consider this information before making decisions based on a What Works Clearinghouse review.
|Criteria||What Works Clearinghouse||Florida Center for Reading Research||University of Oregon||National Center on Intensive Intervention|
|Website Focus & Researchers' Qualifications||Website specializes in reading research & reading instruction||No||Yes||Yes||RTI Expertise|
|Key staff and principal investigators have doctorates and/or master's degrees in reading||2 of 14||13 of 13||12 of 14||RTI Expertise|
|Evaluation of Specific Reading Programs||Evaluates individual reading programs based on criteria of the National Reading Panel*||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Evaluates program's alignment to scientifically-based reading research and best practices||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Evaluates program's instructional design, including scope and sequence, lesson procedures, and placement procedures||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Evaluates the quality of the professional development necessary for effective implementation||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Review of Studies Using Specific Reading Programs||When reviewing studies that use a specific reading program, the purpose of the study is considered||No||Yes||NA**||Yes|
|Evaluates the statistical model of a study||Yes||Yes||NA**||Yes|
|Evaluates whether the assessment measures used in a study align with the instructional goals of the reading strategy being reviewed||No||Yes||NA**||Yes|
*Phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension
**The University of Oregon focuses on alignment with scientifically based reading research (SBRR)
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