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Examining the What Works Clearinghouse and Its Reviews of Direct Instruction Programs

Stockard, J.
In this report Stockard analyzes the conclusions of the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) on the effectiveness of Direct Instruction, specifically examining the strong differences between their review of Direct Instruction and the extant of scholarly literature, which indicates that Direct Instruction programs are highly effective. The report initially examines the WWC review procedures for including and excluding articles for official review, comparing the procedures to those of the social sciences, while highlighting problems in their selection criteria. This section is followed by an examination of the ten studies on Direct Instruction the WWC decided met their inclusion criteria. She argues serious errors occurred in the classification of four of the approved studies. The following two sections of the report focus on analyzing the content of the 2012 WWC report on the effectiveness of the Direct Instruction program Reading Mastery with students with learning disabilities. Stockard examines twenty research studies that could have been included in the WWC’s review, specifically focusing on the design and conclusions of the studies, the effect size associated with their results, and the potential reasons why the WWC would not include the studies in their review. She concludes that the WWC procedures appear to be responsible for a selective and inaccurate analysis of Direct Instruction literature. Furthermore she suggests consumers should consult sources of summary material other than the WWC, and specifically they should examine the well-conducted and highly regarded meta-analysis literature. (Copyright © 2011, National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI). All rights reserved).
Research areas:
Main publication type:
Program Effectiveness
Technical Report
Direct Instruction; Reading Mastery; students with learning disabilities

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