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IES Grant

Title: Reaping the Rewards of the Reading for Understanding Initiative
Center: NCER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Pearson, P. David Awardee: National Academy of Education
Program: Unsolicited and Other Awards      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (10/1/2016-9/30/2019) Award Amount: $199,736
Award Number: R305U160002

In this project, the National Academy of Education (NAEd) established a working committee charged with developing insights and implications from the Reading for Understanding (RFU) initiative, and to ensure that what has been learned from this initiative is beneficial to education research and practice. The RFU initiative was funded through IES in 2010. Six interdisciplinary teams of researchers were funded to use a combination of basic, development, and efficacy research to improve reading comprehension for all students in grades K through 12.

The steering committee for this project consisted of eleven members, including one representative from each RFU team, NAEd members, and other reading experts. The committee met three times over the course of the project to: (1) articulate findings and common themes across RFU projects; (2) identify obstacles to on-time reading achievement and factors that support success; (3) examine cross-project findings to identify areas of agreement; and (4) find common principles underlying instructional programs across projects.

The committee identified three major "headlines" of the RfU initiative:

  • Knowledge is cause, consequence, and covariate of reading comprehension
  • Language drives every facet of reading comprehension
  • Reading is an inherently cultural activity

In the report, the committee elaborates upon those "headlines" and summarizes findings along the three major strands of the RfU initiative: the nature and development of comprehension, reading comprehension assessment, and curriculum and instruction. The full report is available on the project website.

Project Website:


Pearson, P. D., Palincsar, A. S., Biancarosa, G., & Berman, A. I. (Eds.). (2020). Reaping the Rewards of the Reading for Understanding Initiative. Washington, DC: National Academy of Education.