Reading Fundamentals #3:

The Elements of Effective Reading Instruction & Assessment


Instructor Name:          Dr. A.N. (Bob) Pillay

Facilitator:                    Mick R. Jackson MS/ED

Phone:                         509-891-7219

Office Hours:              8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday - Friday


Fax:                             509-926-7768

Address:                      Virtual Education Software

                                    16201 E Indiana Ave, Suite 1450

                                    Spokane, WA 99216

Technical Support:



This course will focus on learning to read, reading to learn, and an introduction to reading assessment. As part of these two key areas of reading instruction, the five elements of effective reading instruction will be highlighted, including definitions, implications for instruction, and future directions. These five elements include instruction in: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. Further, we discuss information on teacher preparation in learning about comprehension strategy instruction and reading instruction, as well as how to integrate computer technology into the classroom. Additionally, the course will provide information on important assessment terms and definitions and will explore how reading assessment fits within federal mandated programs. This analysis includes specific recommendations on 29 reading assessments. Finally, the course describes how teachers can conduct pivotal curriculum-based measurement procedures in their classrooms.


This computer-based instruction course is a self-supporting program that provides instruction, structured practice, and evaluation all on your home or school computer.  Technical support information can be found in the Help section of your course.


Course Materials (Online)

Title:                            Reading Fundamentals #3: The Elements of Effective Reading Instruction & Assessment

Authors:                                   Greg Benner, Ph.D., Nancy Marchand-Martella, Ph.D., and Ronald Martella, Ph.D.

Publisher:                     Virtual Education Software, inc. 2004, Revised 2010

Instructor Name:          Dr. A.N. (Bob) Pillay

Facilitator:                    Mick R. Jackson MS/ED


Academic Integrity Statement

The structure and format of most distance-learning courses presumes a high level of personal and academic integrity in completion and submission of coursework. Individuals enrolled in a distance-learning course are expected to adhere to the following standards of academic conduct.


Academic Work

Academic work submitted by the individual (such as papers, assignments, reports, tests) shall be the student’s own work or appropriately attributed in part or in whole to its correct source. Submission of commercially prepared (or group prepared) materials as if they are one’s own work is unacceptable.


Aiding Honesty in Others

The individual will encourage honesty in others by refraining from providing materials or information to another person with knowledge that these materials or information will be used improperly.


Violations of these academic standards will result in the assignment of a failing grade and subsequent loss of credit for the course.


Level of Application

This course is designed to be an informational course with application to reading programs for kindergarten through third grade. The course is designed for both regular and exceptional education teachers and support staff who teach reading and reading remediation to public and private school students. This is a three-course series and teacher should complete the entire three-course series before developing and implementing a phonetically-based reading program in their school or classroom.


Expected Learning Outcomes

As a result of this course, participants will demonstrate their ability to:

1.      Describe learning to read and reading to learn.

2.      Discuss important aspects of phonemic awareness instruction.

3.      Identify important aspects of phonics instruction.

4.      Describe important aspects of fluency instruction.

5.      Note important aspects of vocabulary instruction.

6.      Discuss important aspects of text comprehension.

7.      Describe various aspects of teacher preparation and education in comprehension strategy instruction and reading instruction.

8.      Note how computer technology can be used in reading instruction.

9.      Provide details on the Consumer’s Guide to Evaluating a Core Reading Program by Simmons and Kame’enui (2003) and the Planning and Evaluation Tool for Effective Schoolwide Reading Programs by Kame’enui and Simmons (2000).

10.  Describe accomplishments that can be expected for students in grades K-3.

11.  Describe reading remediation guidelines and interventions for students in grades K-12.

12.  Describe how to incorporate tutoring as an effective reading intervention.

13.  Define important assessment terms.

14.  Discuss technical adequacy, test interpretation, and assessment purposes.

15.  Note how assessment fits within federally mandated programs.

16.  Describe the findings of the Reading Assessment Committee (2002).

17.  Discuss important ways to link assessment with instruction.

18.  Detail the use of data-based decision making in classroom settings, with particular focus on various types of curriculum-based measurement procedures.


Course Description

The Reading Fundamental program focuses on implementing proven methods of early reading instruction in classrooms. Through the federal reading initiative, states and districts will receive support to apply scientifically based reading research—and the proven instructional and assessment tools consistent with this research—to ensure that all children learn to read well by the end of third grade. The Reading Fundamentals program will provide the necessary assistance to states and districts to establish research-based reading programs for students in kindergarten through third grade. Funds will also support a significant increase in professional development to ensure that all teachers have the skills they need to teach these reading programs effectively. Additionally, the program provides assistance to states and districts in preparing classroom teachers to screen, identify, and eliminate reading barriers facing their students (U.S. Department of Education, 2002, p. 1).


Reading Fundamentals not only specifies that an effective reading program should include phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension instruction, but also notes that “an effective reading program is one that coherently integrates: screening, diagnostic and classroom-based assessments that are valid and reliable” (U.S. Department of Education, 2002a, p. 2). Accountability is the cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2002b) that includes federal reading legislation. Throughout the NCLB legislation, reference is made to helping students meet high academic standards and to measuring what they know and can do. If we are to ensure that all children can read by grade 3, as the legislation suggests, we must provide some way of measuring children’s performance. This assessment holds us accountable for what instruction and programs we provide in the classroom.


This course will describe the elements of effective reading instruction in some detail. Two primary sources were used in developing this course. First, the National Reading Panel Report (2000) was used. This Report serves as the most current “evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction” (note title of the National Reading Panel Report). Second, the Put Reading First document (Armbruster, Lehr, & Osborn, 2001a), a well-respected and easy-to-read publication on the research building blocks for teaching children to read, was used. “The findings and conclusions in this publication were drawn from the 2000 report of the National Reading Panel” (Armbruster et al., p. i).


Educational assessment involves gathering, interpreting, and synthesizing information to help teachers make important decisions about student performance (Airasian, 2001). It involves everything from scores on projects, papers, and exams to how children perform on school, district, state, or national evaluations (such as standardized tests). Educational assessment can be teacher-designed or publisher/researcher-based. It can be centered on the curriculum in the school or district, or based on what children across the country should know in a particular academic subject area, such as reading.


Student Expectations 

As a student you will be expected to...

·         Complete all 6 information chapters covering The Elements of Effective Reading Instruction & Assessment, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.

·         Complete all 6 chapter examinations, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.

·         Complete a review of any chapter on which your examination score was below 70%.

·         Retake any examination, after completing an information review, to increase that examination score to a minimum of 70% (maximum of three attempts). *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete all course journal article and essay writing assignments with the minimum word count shown for each writing assignment.

·         Complete a course evaluation form at the end of the course.


Course Overview
Chapter 1: Introduction to Reading Instruction
The purpose of this course is to consider what we can do in school to promote effective reading instruction. In this chapter we focus on three elements of effective reading instruction. These are phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency building. We have labeled these elements under the heading Learning to Read. Learning to Read emphasizes decoding skills.


Chapter 2:  Reading to Learn & Other Important Areas of Reading Instruction

In this chapter, we focus on reading to learn or comprehension of text materials. Two elements of effective reading instruction must be conducted to improve reading comprehension in the classroom. These include vocabulary instruction and text comprehension instruction.

Chapter 3:  Further Examination of Reading Programs & Skills
In this chapter, we provide further examination of reading programs and skills. We discuss how to evaluate core or comprehensive reading programs using the Consumer’s Guide developed by Simmons and Kame’enui (2003). We also discuss the Planning and Evaluation Tool (Kame’enui & Simmons, 2000) that is used to assess schoolwide reading programs. We conclude by discussing the important accomplishments by grade level as identified by Armbruster, Lehr, and Osborn (2003) in their booklet, A Child Becomes a Reader: Proven Ideas from Research for Parents: Kindergarten through Grade 3.




Chapter 4: Reading Remediation

In this chapter, we will describe interventions for students in Grades K-12. We offer important guidelines on remedial reading programs. We will also focus on the importance of tutorial programs in schools. Tutorial programs are considered one of the best ways of providing reading instruction to struggling readers.


Chapter 5: Reading Assessment

This chapter describes relevant assessment terms and purposes. It is critical to understand the types of tests available to teachers and what information can be gathered from them. It also provides important information on how assessment fits within Reading First. Additionally, this chapter details the findings of the Reading First Assessment Committee. It also provides important information on how assessment fits within Reading First. Additionally, this chapter details the findings of the Reading First Assessment Committee.


Chapter 6: Recommended Classroom Practices

This chapter lays out recommended classroom practices in terms of assessment. It describes the ever-important link between assessment and instruction. An outcomes-driven model is discussed. Additionally, the chapter explores data tracking and data-based decision making with particular focus on CBM and its derivatives (i.e., measures not based directly on a particular curriculum, but integrating CBM elements such as frequent progress monitoring). It discusses the DIBELS and MASI-R as well as teacher-developed CBM practices that can serve as criterion-referenced tests when student data are compared to performance criteria.



At the end of each course chapter, you will be expected to complete an examination designed to assess your knowledge. You may take these exams a total of three times.  Your last score will save, not the highest score.  After your third attempt, each examination will lock and not allow further access.  The average from your exam scores will be printed on your certificate.  However, this is not your final grade since your required writing assignments have not been reviewed.  Exceptionally written or poorly written required writing assignments, or violation of the academic integrity policy in the course syllabus, will affect your grade.  As this is a self-paced computerized instruction program, you may review course information as often as necessary. You will not be able to exit any examinations until you have answered all questions. If you try to exit the exam before you complete all questions, your information will be lost. You are expected to complete the entire exam in one sitting.


Writing Assignments

This course has two required writing components.  ALL ASSIGNMENTS ARE REVIEWED. Exceptionally or poorly written assignments, or violation of the academic integrity policy noted in the course syllabus, will affect your grade. Be sure to refer to the Grading Guidelines for Writing Assignments, sent as an attachment with your original course link.

It is highly recommended that you write and save all writing assignments in an external word processing program (such as Word or Notepad), and then copy and paste these into the course program so that you will have backup copies.

To save your essays:


When you select the question or article you wish to respond to, ‘Simple Text’ or ‘Text Edit’ will launch automatically. When you are finished entering your response, simply click SAVE. 

You must SAVE before you write another essay or move on to another part of the course.


1)       Essay Requirement: Critical Thinking Questions

There are four Critical Thinking Questions that you must complete. You will do research on the questions and write brief essay responses relating it to the course content (and your personal experiences, when possible).  To view the questions, click on REQUIRED ESSAY and choose the Critical Thinking Question that you are ready to complete; this will bring up a screen where you may enter your essay.  You must write a minimum of 500 words (maximum 1,000) per essay.  You may go back at any point to edit your essays, but you must be certain to click SAVE once you have completed your edits.

You must SAVE before you write another essay or move on to another part of the course.



2)   Essay Requirement: Journal Articles

This task requires you to write a review of three peer-reviewed or scholarly journal articles, preferably written by an author with a Ph.D. (blogs and news articles are not acceptable) of your choice on a topic related to this course.  You may choose your topic by entering the Key Words (click on the Key Words button) into a search engine of your choice (Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc.).  Choose three relevant articles and write a critical summary of the information given in each article, explaining how the information relates to, supports, or refutes information given in this course. Conclude your review with your thoughts and impressions (200 words per journal article minimum, 400 words maximum). Be sure to provide the journal name, volume, date, and any other critical information to allow the instructor to access and review that article.


To write your essays, click on REQUIRED ESSAY and choose the Journal Article that you would like to complete; this will bring up a screen where you can write your review. When you are ready to stop, click SAVE.  You may go back at any point to edit your essays, but you must be certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits. For more information on the features of this assignment, please consult the HELP menu.

You must SAVE before you write another essay or move on to another part of the course.



Facilitator Description

Reading Fundamentals #3: The Elements of Effective Reading Instruction & Assessment has been developed by a team of professionals with educational backgrounds in the areas of clinical psychology, direct reading, and phonetic instructional practices. Mick Jackson, the instructor of record, is a Behavioral Intervention Specialist with a Master's Degree in Special Education and Behavioral Theory and a minor in Reading Remediation.  He has 15 years’ combined experience in self-contained special education classrooms, resource rooms, and a hospital day treatment setting.  He has conducted oral seminars, presenting to school districts, teacher groups, and at educational conferences.  Please contact Professor Jackson if you have course content or examination questions.


Instructor Description

Dr. A.N. Bob Pillay is a doctoral-level professor who has been teaching in the field of exceptional education, curriculum approaches, English, reading and mathematics for the past 30 years. Dr. Pillay has received numerous national and international awards for his research in these fields. He has headed boards and committees in more than five countries, including Australia, the Philippines and Southeast Asia, to develop and strengthen curriculum approaches and special services. Dr. Pillay has extensive knowledge of education issues in the U.S. due to his doctoral studies at the University of Louisville. He was the Founding Director of the Learning Improvement Centre, which is a training facility for teachers, and was a service provider to students with learning problems. He is currently a retired Senior Lecturer and Senior Fellow in Special Education at the University of Melbourne.  Please contact Professor Jackson if you have course content or examination questions.


Contacting the Facilitator

You may contact the facilitator by emailing Professor Jackson at or calling him at 800-313-6744 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. PST. Phone messages will be answered within 24 hours. Phone conferences will be limited to ten minutes per student, per day, given that this is a self-paced instructional program. Please do not contact the instructor about technical problems, course glitches, or other issues that involve the operation of the course.

Technical Questions

If you have questions or problems related to the operation of this course, please try everything twice. If the problem persists please check our support pages for FAQs and known issues at and also the Help section of your course.


If you need personal assistance then email or call (509) 891-7219.  When contacting technical support, please know your course version number (it is located at the bottom left side of the Welcome Screen) and your operating system, and be seated in front of the computer at the time of your call. 




Minimum Computer Requirements

Please refer to VESi’s website: or contact VESi if you have further questions about the compatibility of your operating system.


Refer to the addendum regarding Grading Criteria, Course Completion Information, Items to be Submitted and how to submit your completed information. The addendum will also note any additional course assignments that you may be required to complete that are not listed in this syllabus.


Bibliography (Suggested Readings)

Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.


Armbruster, B. B., Lehr, F., & Osborn, J. (2006a). A child becomes a reader: Proven ideas from research for parents: Birth to preschool (3rd ed.). Jessup, MD: National Institute for Literacy.


Armbruster, B. B., Lehr, F., & Osborn, J. (2006b). A child becomes a reader: Proven ideas from research for parents: Kindergarten to grade 3 (3rd ed.). Jessup, MD: National Institute for Literacy.


Armbruster, B. B., Lehr, F., & Osborn, J. (2006c). Put reading first: The research building blocks for teaching children to read: Kindergarten through grade 3 (3rd ed.). Jessup, MD: National Institute for Literacy.


Atkinson, P., & Hammersley, M. (1994). Ethnography and participant observation. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 248-261). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Barlow, D. H., & Hersen, M. (1984). Single case experimental designs: Strategies for studying behavior change (2nd ed.). New York: Pergamon.


Biancarosa, C., & Snow, C. E. (2006). Reading next—A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York (2nd ed.).Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.


Boardman, A. G., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J., Murray, C. S., & Kosanovich, M. (2008). Effective instruction for adolescent struggling readers: A practice brief. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.


Bornstein, R. F. (1990). Publication politics, experimenter bias and the replication process in social science research. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 5(4), 71-81.


Bogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (1992) Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


Chambless, D. L., & Ollendick, T. H. (2001). Empirically supported psychological interventions: Controversies and evidence. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 685-716.


Fetterman, D. M. (1989). Applied social research methods series: Vol. 17. Ethnography step by step. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.


Fleishman, S., Kohlmoos, J. W., & Rotherham, A. J. (2003, March). From research to practice. Education Week.


Gall, M. D., Borg, W. R., & Gall, J. P. (1996). Educational research: An introduction (6th ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman.


Gersten, R., Compton, D., Connor, C. M., Dimino, J., Santoro, L., Linan-Thompson, S., & Tilly, W. D. (2008). Assisting students struggling with reading: Response to Intervention and multi-tier intervention for reading in the primary grades. A practice guide. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from


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Hempenstall, K. (2004). The importance of effective instruction. In N. Marchand-Martella, T. Slocum, & R. Martella (Eds.), Introduction to Direct Instruction (pp. 1-27). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.


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Knopf, H. T., & Brown, H. M. (2009). Lap reading with kindergartners: Nurturing literacy skills and so much more. Young Children, 64(5), 80-87.


Korat, O. (2010). Reading electronic books as a support for vocabulary, story comprehension and word reading in kindergarten and first grade. Computers & Education, 55(1), 24-31.


Lamal, P. A. (1990). On the importance of replication. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 5(4), 31-35.


Martella, R. C., Nelson, R., & Marchand-Martella, N. E. (1999). Research methods: Learning to become a critical research consumer. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.


Meier, K. (1997, February 7). The value of replicating social-science research. The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. B7.


Moats, L. C. (1999). Teaching reading is rocket science: What expert teachers of reading should know and be able to do. Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers.


National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


National Research Council. (2002). Scientific research in education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


Neuliep, J. W., & Crandall, R. (1993a). Everyone was wrong: There are lots of replications out there. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 8(6), 1-8.


Neuliep, J. W., & Crandall, R. (1993b). Reviewer bias against replication research. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 8(6), 21-29.


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Potter, W. J. (1996). An analysis of thinking and research about qualitative methods. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Park, R. (2000). Voodoo science: The road from foolishness to fraud. New York: Oxford.


Rosenthal, R. (1990). Replication in behavioral research. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 5(4), 1-30.


Rosnow, R. L., & Rosenthal, R. (1976). The volunteer subject revisited. Australian Journal of Psychology, 28, 97-108.


Sagan, C. (1996). The demon-haunted world: Science as a candle in the dark. New York: Ballantine Books.


Shaver, J. P. (1983). The verification of independent variables in teaching methods research. Educational Research, 12, 3-9.


Silverman, D. (1993). Interpreting qualitative data: Methods for analysing talk, text, and interaction. London, Sage.


Simmons, D. C., & Kame’enui, E. J. (2003). A consumer’s guide to evaluating a core reading program grades K-3: A critical elements analysis. Eugene, OR: Institute for the Development of Educational Achievement.


Slavin, R. E. (2003, February). A reader’s guide to scientifically based research: Learning how to assess the validity of education research is vital for creating effective, sustained reform. Educational Leadership, 12-16.


Snow, C. E., Burns, M. S., & Griffin, P. (Eds.). National Research Council. (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


Spear-Swerling, L., Brucker, P. O., & Alfano, M. P. (2010). Relationships between sixth-graders' reading comprehension and two different measures of print exposure. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 23(1), 73-96.


Stanovich, K. E. (1993/1994). Romance and reality. The Reading Teacher, 47, 280-291.


Stecker, P. M., & Lemke, E. S. (2005). Advanced applications of CBM in Reading: Instructional Decision-Making Strategies Manual. National Center on Student Progress Monitoring. Retrieved from


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Tawney, J. W., & Gast, D. L. (1984). Single subject research in special education. Columbus, OH: Merrill.


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Waldron, C. H. (2008). If I Read Better, Will I Score Higher?: The relationship between oral reading fluency instruction and standardized reading achievement test outcomes. Unpublished master’s thesis, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.


Wills, H., Kamps, D., Abbott, M., Bannister, H., & Kaufman, J. (2010). Classroom observations and effects of reading interventions for students at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 35(2), 103-119.


Course content is updated every three years. Due to this update timeline, some URL links may no longer be active or may have changed. Please type the title of the organization into the command line of any Internet browser search window and you will be able to find whether the URL link is still active or any new link to the corresponding organization's web home page.

Update 9/5/14 jn