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The National Institute for Direct Instruction maintains an Office of Research and Evaluation that compiles research on Direct Instruction, conducts original studies of DI, and responds to requests for assistance in issues related to research regarding Direct Instruction.

The Research Office has developed an extensive bibliography of writings related to DI [# 6 below], maintains a searchable data base of articles and books [add link], and has written narrative summaries and meta-analyses of this literature (3, 5).

A substantial body of NIFDI research has examined the effectiveness of the DI curricula. These studies have confirmed the accumulated findings of decades of other studies showing that students studying with DI have higher achievement scores and stronger growth rates than students studying with other curricula. These results have appeared with reading (1,2,8,9,10, 13, 15) and math (7); in urban (1,2,7), rural (2, 8), and suburban (8,13,15) settings; with middle class high achieving students (13 ); with high risk students (17), general education students (1, 2, 7 ,8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 17), and special education students (15); with schools that are predominantly African American (1,7,9), those with substantial numbers of Hispanic students (2, 8, 15), and those with large numbers of non-Hispanic whites (8, 13, 15); and with children from pre-school age (10) through middle school (#4). The strong positive results appear in studies examining state test scores (4), curriculum-based measures (2, 4, 8, 10) and norm-referenced tests (1, 4, 7, 9, 10); in the United States as well as in other countries (11) and with randomized control trials (10,13, 14) as well as quasi-experimental designs (1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 15).

The NIFDI research office has also examined how the NIFDI model can help teachers and students have the greatest success possible. This research has documented the ways in which schools that adhere to the NIFDI model, in all of its components, have the greatest growth in student achievement over time. 

A number of organizations provide reviews of educational curricula. The results of their work have disappointed many, and their procedures have received substantial criticism from the research community. NIFDI’s analyses of the WhatWorks Clearinghouse are typical of these critiques and have described errors in specific reviews as well as problems in procedures that are used to assess fidelity of implementation (12). Other analyses have described more general problems with the review criteria and alternative approaches that provide both more internal and external validity (4).

The NIFDI office works with schools and individual researchers to help broaden the base of DI-related research. Research support is available for participating schools and for graduate students and post-doctoral scholars. [add links]

NIFDI’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) is registered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and complies fully with the federally established guidelines for the protection of human subjects. Details on NIFDI’s IRB policy are available upon request.


1) “Direct Instruction and First Grade Reading Achievement: The Role of Technical Support and Time of Implementation,” Jean Stockard, Journal of Direct Instruction, 11 (1, 2011), 31-50.

2) Increasing Reading Skills in Rural Districts: A Case Study of Three Schools,” Jean Stockard, Journal of Research in Rural Education, 26 (8, 2011), pp. 1-19.

3) “Research on the Effectiveness of Direct Instruction Programs: An Updated Meta-Analysis”, Cristy Coughlin, Paper Presented at the Annual Meetings of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, May, 2011

4) Merging the Accountability and Scientific Research Requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act: Using Cohort Control Groups, Quality and Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, published on-line December 11, 2011.

5) “Research Syntheses of Direct Instruction Outcomes: A ‘Tertiary’ Review, Cristy Coughlin, forthcoming in Lloyd, J. Carnine, D., Slocum, T., & Watkins, C. (Eds.). Does Direct Instruction Deserve Status as an Evidence-Based Practice? ADI Press, 2011.

6) A Bibliography of the Direct Instruction Curriculum and Studies Examining its Efficacy, National Institute for Direct Instruction, October, 2011.

7) “Improving Elementary Level Mathematics Achievement in a Large Urban District: The Effects of Direct Instruction,” Jean Stockard, Journal of Direct Instruction, 10 (Winter, 2010): 1-16.

8) “The Development of Early Academic Success: The Impact of Direct Instruction’s Reading Mastery, Jean Stockard and Kurt Engelmann, Journal of Behavioral Assessment and Intervention for Children, 1 (1, 2010): 2-24.

9) “Promoting Reading Achievement and Countering the ‘Fourth-Grade Slump’: The Impact of Direct Instruction on Reading Achievement in Fifth Grade,” Jean Stockard, Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 15 (August, 2010): 218-240.

10) “Promoting Early Literacy of Preschool Children: A Study of the Effectiveness of Funnix Beginning Reading, Jean Stockard, Journal of Direct Instruction, 10 (Winter, 2010):29-48.

11) “Direct Instruction in Africa,” Tamara and Rob Bressi, Kurt Engelmann, Amy Johnston, Jerry Silbert, and Jean Stockard, DI News, Summer, 2010.

12) “An Analysis of the Fidelity Implementation Policies of the What Works Clearinghouse,” Jean Stockard, Current Issues in Education, 13, No. 4 (2010). http://cie.asu.edu/ojs/index.php/cieatasu/article/view/398

13) “Improving Reading Skills in Lake Woebegone: A Pretest-Posttest Randomized Control Study of High-Achieving Fourth Grade Students,” submitted to Journal of School Psychology (revise and resubmit requested). – should be as technical report

14) “Changes in Reading Achievement at Rimes Elementary: A Randomized Control Study of Reading Mastery, NIFDI Technical Report, October, 2011

15) “Reading Achievement in a Direct Instruction School and a ‘Three Tier’ Curriculum School,” NIFDI Technical Report 2008-5.

16) Tech report on WWC and RM

Implementing Direct Instruction Successfully

When implemented fully, Direct Instruction (DI) is unparalleled in its ability to improve student performance and enhance students’ self-esteem. In order to implement DI effectively, much more is required than simply purchasing instructional materials. The following two-part tutorial guides administrators, teachers and coaches through the key features of a successful DI implementation. Part I provides an overview of the steps schools need to take in preparation for a DI implementation before school starts while Part II provides an overview of the steps schools need to take after school has started.

IMPORTANT: This tutorial is an intensive video series comprised of 18 segments, each followed by a series of questions. Users should allow approximately three hours to watch the videos and complete the questions. NIFDI recognizes the high demand for time placed on school officials and, for this reason, has structured the tutorial so users may stop at anytime and later resume where they left off.

Have a slow connection? You can view the quiz portion (no videos) of the tutorial here. To get a copy of the videos on disk to use with this method, please contact us at 877.485.1973 or info@nifdi.org.
New to Direct Instruction? Watch the Introduction to Direct Instruction Video Series before taking the online tutorial.

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