What Is the Science of Reading?

The Science of Reading has demystified how we learn to read and offers evidence backed by science to confirm that there is one right way to teach reading.

Literacy is a fundamental human right connected to all learner’s future outcomes. A student’s entire education relies on whether or not they are a proficient reader. When it comes to literacy instruction, it is our educators who we depend upon to be well-equipped to take on such a significant task.

The Science of Reading is a large body of research on the science behind reading. This conclusive, empirically supported research provides us with the information to understand how we learn to read, what skills are involved, how they work together, and which parts of the brain are responsible for reading development. 

This body of research encompasses years of scientific knowledge and shares contributions from experts and key stakeholders from relevant disciplines. These disciplines include, but are not limited to:

  • Education
  • Special Education
  • Literacy
  • Neurology
  • Psychology

From this research, we can identify an evidence-based best practice for teaching reading: Structured Literacy.

Science of Reading expert David Kilpatrick stated, “We teach reading in different ways; they learn to read proficiently in only one way.” The Science of Reading provides evidence backed by the science of how we best learn to read. 

The Science of Reading helps us understand the cognitive processes essential for reading proficiency. It describes the development of reading skills for both typical and atypical readers.


The Science of Reading and Orton-Gillingham

Orton-Gillingham is a long-standing, evidence-based multisensory instructional approach to teaching reading that is now reinforced by more modern research from the Science of Reading. Orton-Gillingham strongly emphasizes systematic, explicit, diagnostic phonics instruction so that students understand the hows and whys behind reading.

Reading difficulties are highly preventable for young, at-risk students if they are approached correctly. Studies demonstrate the efficacy of intensive phonics instruction, including phonemic awareness training, decoding strategies, and opportunities for repeated practice. Efficient orthographic mapping is achieved through intervention in these skills, ultimately leading to success. 

Phonics empowers our students. By memorization of the sounds of just ten letters, students are able to read:

  • 350 three-sound words
  • 4,320 four-sound words
  • 21,650 five-sound words

The Science of Reading illustrates that educators need to secure phonics as the primary approach to reading and, in turn, prepares students to become fluent and independent readers for life. The Science of Reading proves that we do not learn to read differently. With the help of Orton-Gillingham instruction, every student can access the same knowledge and skills to become a good reader.