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National Center for Education Research

icon of glasses and a book Reading for Understanding Research Initiative


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FY Awards


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Dr. Elizabeth Albro
(202) 245-8495

Dr. Karen Douglas
(202) 245-7847


The Reading for Understanding Research Initiative (Reading for Understanding) was created to develop effective approaches for improving reading comprehension for all students. Reading for Understanding will take a comprehensive approach to tackling the problem of improving reading comprehension and include (a) applied basic research to identify underlying processes that contribute to comprehension; (b) development and evaluation of instructional approaches, curricula, technology, and teacher professional development programs to improve reading comprehension for students in prekindergarten through Grade 12; and (c) development and validation of assessments of reading comprehension. In addition, the Institute plans for Reading for Understanding to change the way in which research on reading has been conducted by accelerating the research process and creating a tightly linked network of researchers. Central to the success of the initiative is the full participation of teachers and other school-based personnel in the design and interpretation of the research studies and interventions. The project period for Reading for Understanding is July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2015.

During this period, IES will also fund research on reading through the National Center for Education Research's Reading and Writing program and The National Center for Special Education Research's Reading, Writing, and Language Development program.

The Request for Applications for the Reading for Understanding Research Initiative is posted online at:

Six teams were selected through a competitive, scientific review process to participate in the Reading for Understanding Network. Five of the teams will focus on increasing understanding of basic processes that contribute to reading comprehension and developing and evaluating instructional approaches, curricula, technology, and professional development for enhancing reading comprehension. The five teams will address a broad range of research questions and engage in a variety of research strategies including experimental, observational, and longitudinal studies. The sixth team will develop assessments designed to measure the developmental trajectories of reading comprehension skills. Altogether, the six teams include over 130 researchers representing linguistics, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, reading, speech and language pathology, assessment and evaluation. The typical R&D process in education has been slow in developing effective solutions. To accelerate the basic research process, the Reading for Understanding Network will work in close collaboration to rapidly develop and test new approaches and interventions in multiple content areas and grades—a process of multiple prototyping of interventions. The purpose of the Reading for Understanding Network is to aggressively attack and derive solutions for enabling students to understand what they read.

Grade Levels:

table of grade levels covered by Reading for Understanding

A description of studies and progress of the Reading for Understanding grantees was published in Educational Psychology Review in 2014, and is available in ERIC at