Reading Comprehension Research

Online EducationOne of the key factors that sets Practickle apart from many other learning experiences is its ability to effectively and efficiently create long-term learning ability based in deep brain development.

Our approach is based in current research, some of which is presented here.





Why we need a new approach: quick facts

  • 40% of errors on standardized math tests are related to reading errors due to weak reading skills and misunderstood vocabulary.
  • 60% of the thinking you do each day requires you to form an inference. The English Language Arts standards expect students in kindergarten to begin forming inferences.
  • 90% of the reading you do each day is nonfiction text.
  • During your preschool years, your brain grew faster than at any other time in your life.
  • By the time you were five and a half, your brain growth was 92% complete.
  • A social connection during learning (such as reading together) increases your child’s learning power!
  • In 2013, only one in three parents of children under the age of eight engaged in nightly reading.
  • Boys lag behind girls in reading proficiency in all 50 states on standardized reading tests.
  • Parents who read to their children frequently, and are frequent readers themselves, are six times more likely to have children who read a lot.

Basis of the Practickle experience

Repeated Interactive Read-Alouds in Preschool and Kindergarten, by Lea M. McGee and Judith Schickedanz, is the best we’ve seen at explaining the research that is the foundation of Practickle. A great place to start understanding the “why” behind the method.

The Practickle experience is also founded on these research-tested teaching methods:

  • Having a single cognitive focus for each reading
  • Including standards-based questions that look at the big ideas of the story or informational text
  • Building vocabulary
  • Providing opportunities for the reading-writing connection

What works in reading instruction

Michael Pressley, education expert and editor of Journal of Educational Psychology, has compiled an excellent, comprehensive guide to current research in reading comprehension. Collectively, the data recommend the following, which are incorporated in the Practickle approach:

  • Teach vocabulary
  • Teach active comprehension strategies – Teach students to use strategies like prediction, analysis, questioning, image construction, and summarizing.
  • Build world knowledge (activate prior knowledge in Practickle’s terminology) – Encourage students to relate what they read to what they already know about the world.
  • Encourage monitoring – Encourage students to monitor their comprehension and be aware when they encounter a problem and need to reprocess.


For a similar, expanded look into Pressley’s findings, see his related piece from Handbook of Reading Research: Volume IIIComprehension Instruction: What Makes Sense Now, What Might Make Sense Soon. Here is an excerpt we find pertinent:

“Traditionally, there has been a tendency among educators to view the primary grades as the time to hone word-recognition skills, with comprehension developed in the later grades. Increasingly, this view is rejected, with many demonstrations that interventions aimed at improving comprehension — that is, interventions beyond word-recognition instruction — do, in fact, make an impact during the primary years. … when researchers have asked primary-level students to use comprehension strategies and monitoring, the children have benefited greatly from it (Brown et al., 1996). There is definitely interest in expanding comprehension instruction in the early literacy experiences, with the expectation that such instruction will affect 5- to 8-year-olds dramatically in the short term and perhaps lead to development of better comprehension skills over the long term.

Early learning: the brain’s “Big Bang”

In October 2013, the co-directors of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington revealed exciting new research into early brain development. Their finding: In the first five years of life, there is an explosion in your brain that stays with you all your life. Minnesota Public Radio has published the entire presentation, which we recommend highly as an introduction to the value of strong early learning strategies.

Building brain function

In an article for Edutopia, neurologist and teacher Judy Willis MD encourages educators and students to develop their “brain literacy” by becoming familiar with the brain’s executive functions. Here is how the Practickle experience matches up with those executive functions:

  • Judgment: Third reading: analysis. The discussion options are high-level thinking questions requiring reasoning and support from the illustrations and text. (forming inferences, predictions, conclusions, and opinions)
  • Analysis: Third reading: analysis. The mental process of analyzing is present in interpreting the text to dramatize the mood and tone of the text. Check out discussion options such as choosing a favorite character and explaining the choice.
  • Organizing: Both the discussion options and activity options provide opportunities to practice organizing thoughts. A Reading Comprehension Best Practice, Graphic Organizers, is perfect practice!



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