Practice Guide iconPractice Guide
Students who read with understanding at an early age gain access to a broader range of texts, knowledge, and educational opportunities, making early reading comprehension instruction particularly critical. This guide recommends five specific steps that teachers, reading coaches, and principals can take to successfully improve reading comprehension for young readers.

Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies.

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Teach students to identify and use the text’s organizational structure to comprehend, learn, and remember content.

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Guide students through focused, high-quality discussion on the meaning of text.

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Select texts purposefully to support comprehension development.

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Establish an engaging and motivating context in which to teach reading comprehension.

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  • Administrators
  • Policymakers
  • Researchers
  • School Specialist
  • Teacher

This practice guide was prepared for the WWC by Mathematica under contract ED-07-CO-0062.

The following research staff contributed to the guide: Virginia Knechtel, Emily Sama-Miller, Samina Sattar, and Sarah Wissel.

These videos were prepared by WestEd under the Doing What Works Contract (ED-PEP-11-C-0068).
All videos are based on recommendations from the WWC practice guides and are designed to complement the guides.

  • Timothy Shanahan (Chair)
    University of Chicago

    Play an interview of Panel Chair, Timothy Shanahan: Reading for Meaning (5:34 minutes)
  • Kim Callison
    Anne Arundel County Public Schools
  • Christine Carriere
    Chicago Public Schools
  • Nell K. Duke
    Michigan State University
  • P. David Pearson
    University of California-Berkeley
  • Christopher Schatschneider
    The Florida State University and Florida Center for Reading Research
  • Joseph Torgesen
    The Florida State University and Florida Center for Reading Research
Foundational skills to support reading for understanding in kindergarten through 3rd grade
April 1, 2021

This video from Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest discusses the most effective evidence-based practices for teaching decoding to early readers. Strategies in this video are based on the What Works Clearinghouse practice guide Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade.
Evidence-Based Recommendations for Remote Reading Instruction in the Elementary Grades
October 1, 2020

This infographic provides examples from three practice guides about elementary school instruction in reading that can be implemented for free or at a low cost in remote learning settings.
Integrating play into literacy instruction: Strategies for your classroom
July 16, 2020

This REL Midwest video features an extended interview with Tim Shanahan, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois at Chicago. This interview includes research-based WWC recommendations about how to teac...
Interactive Readalouds: Learning from books together
July 15, 2020

This REL West video demonstrates how to facilitate an interactive readaloud of a story with young students in a face-to-face or distance learning environment.
Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade-- Pt. 6
April 11, 2017

Play an interview of Panel Chair, Timothy Shanahan: Reading for Meaning (5:34 minutes)

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