In Memory of Dr. Sara Tarver
December 23, 1935-October 16, 2023

TarverSara was a longtime advocate for Direct Instruction. Her work as a researcher and teacher educator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison influenced the lives of hundreds of future educators. In 1985, she was central in the formation of the Wisconsin Association for Direct Instruction and helped facilitate the Wisconsin Direct Instruction conference for many years. 

Click here for her full obituary. As you will read, she led a rich life and gave her all professionally. She was a fierce advocate for the right for children to be taught with effective instructional practices.

NIFDI has created this page and will continue to gather testimonials and tributes to Sara to place on this page as a lasting tribute to her work. Please send us any remembrances, tributes, links to, or copies of her work to info@nifdi.org.

Wisconsin Policy Institute, March 2001

  pdf This report by Professor Mark Schug, retired Professor Richard Western, both from the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Sara Tarver from the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have examined Direct Instruction in great detail.

Many teachers who try Direct Instruction become strong proponents of the DI approach.  The subtitle of the study is "Wisconsin's Teacher-Led Insurgency" because teachers who used Direct Instruction in Wisconsin saw firsthand its positive effects on student learning and became strong advocates for DI and the driving force behind DI's use in the state.

Another important point raised is that implementing Direct Instruction can save school systems millions of dollars in SPED costs and costs of other support programs.  As John Miller, President of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, notes on the preliminary page of the report:

"it is much more efficient for Wisconsin taxpayers to have their money spent on reading programs that work, rather than wasting millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, annually on trendy school of education programs that have failed in the past, are failing in the present, and will fail in the future."

Although the report came out 22 years ago, it's as relevant today as it was then.

Myths and Truths about Direct Instruction, Effective School Practices, Winter, 1998

  pdf In this paper , Sara addresses ten myths about Direct Instruction. It is a succinct response to misconceptions that people have about DI. 

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