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The History of The Big Five

by Andi Diaz on November 25, 2019

A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that students with proficient literacy skills accomplish more throughout their life in terms of graduating high school, pursuing higher education, and obtaining meaningful work.

Wytonia Montgomery, a strategic professional development specialist for Istation, echoes these findings: “Reading is not a school skill. It is now a life skill, which opens doors, and can change the trajectory of the student’s life.”

So how do we get readers on the right track? Research from the National Reading Panel (NRP) indicates there is a true science to reading instruction based on five essential components. Known as the “Big Five,” these components include phonemic awareness, phonics, text fluency, vocabulary development, and comprehension.

In 1997, the NRP was formed by the US Congress to examine research and determine the most effective methods for reading instruction. The NRP reviewed more than 100,000 quantitative studies over a three-year period and concluded there are five essential components to reading. These components became the basis for No Child Left Behind, the federal literacy policy enacted in 2000.

Victoria Locke, Research Director at Istation, praises the Big Five model. “This is the best approach because it scaffolds, and the skills build on one another,” Locke says. “The National Reading Panel found that children with greater phonemic awareness were better able to apply the alphabetic principle, and the use of phonics in the early grades helped students learn to read faster.”

Consider this example: If a house does not have a solid foundation, it will ultimately crumble. In the same way, effective reading instruction means that students learn and master fundamental skills first, and then build from there.

Want to learn more about how to boost reading comprehension and growth?

Download the white paper “Boost Outcomes with the Big Five,” covering what students need for current learning demands and lifelong personal growth.

Plus, be on the lookout for more on the Big Five and the science of reading with Istation’s Science of Reading: The Conversation, a dynamic three-part web series coming in January 2020!

Download the Whitepaper