Grades PreK–12

Research & Thought Leadership for Direct Instruction

Visit our research portal to find white papers supporting the research in these Direct Instruction programs: Reading Mastery Signature Edition, Corrective Reading, Early Interventions in Reading, Intervenciones tempranas de la lectura, Read to Achieve, Connecting Math Concepts, Corrective Math.

The Research Foundation of Direct Instruction

Direct Instruction is the brainchild of Siegfried "Zig" Engelmann, a Chicago native with a philosophy degree, a curious mind, and fierce tenacity. In the 1960s, he was working in advertising for a client that marketed to children. And Zig began to wonder: How do kids learn and remember?

To find out, he conducted focus groups with his twin sons and other neighborhood children. Based on his observations, he developed a group of teaching techniques that enabled even young children to learn sophisticated skills and concepts. These techniques evolved into a full-fledged teaching method called "Direct Instruction."

The first Direct Instruction program materials—which Zig called DISTAR® (Direct Instruction System for Teaching Arithmetic and Reading)—came out in the 1960s. Together with Dr. Wesley Becker, he got involved with Project Head Start and a government study (Project Follow Through) that assessed the quality of educational models.

The University of Oregon in Eugene stepped in as a sponsor. When the results came in, Direct Instruction was the clear winner. It had been implemented at more sites and achieved greater gains than any other model in the study. This success story has played out many times since then.

Zig and Becker formed their company: the Engelmann-Becker Corporation, based in Eugene, Oregon. Then, in 1969, they chose SRA to publish DISTAR. It was the beginning of a long, rewarding partnership. Although Becker passed away in 2000, Zig still runs the company along with his sons and many of his original Project Follow Through colleagues.

When MacMillan/McGraw Hill acquired SRA in 1991, a partnership between McGraw Hill and Engelmann-Becker was born. With a proven record of measurable success, Direct Instruction continues to develop reading, language arts, and math programs under this partnership.

Thought Leadership on Direct Instruction

Dyslexia—Part 1 of 2: Defining Dyslexia

Reading is the most fundamental of all academic skills. Being able to read well is necessary for success in every area—in school and in life. Unfortunately, for a significant number of our children, learning to read, write, and spell, are daunting challenges. This white paper will attempt to address these concerns for parents and teachers by defining dyslexia, explaining how research has changed our understanding of this once mysterious learning disorder, and dispelling common misconceptions. View the research.

Dyslexia—Part 2 of 2: Addressing Dyslexia

In our previous white paper, Defining Dyslexia, we discussed how almost a century of research from a variety of scientific fields has disproven many myths about dyslexia that are unfortunately still prevalent in our culture. This white paper will attempt to explain the prevalence of dyslexia, what signs parents and teachers should look for, so we can detect dyslexia earlier (sometimes even before students learn to read), and how we can address it in the classroom, so we can turn struggling readers into confident ones. View the research.

Essentials for Meeting the Third-Grade Guarantee

Millions of children entering the fourth grade are unable to read proficiently. Fortunately, there are reading intervention programs available, including Direct Instruction, to create and advance a comprehensive third grade reading proficiency achievement plan. To discover three essential strategies, watch this on-demand webinar and view the brochure.

Powering Lifelong Learning for Elementary Students with Dyslexia

Today’s K–5 literacy initiatives and action plans in schools, state, and local educational agencies call for supporting all learners, including students with dyslexia. Multi-Tiered System of Supports and Response to Intervention aims to provide students proper instruction. Learn how explicit, intensive and teacher driven instruction in Direct Instruction methodology can help. View the brochure.

Secondary Literacy Intervention: Five Strategies for Success

Reading proficiency is the top predictor of high school graduation and career success, yet one-third of students cannot read at grade-level. However, secondary educators can implement five strategies to remediate foundational literacy skills and accelerate achievement in reading and language arts. Watch this on-demand webinar and view the brochure.

Special Education and Direct Instruction: An Effective Combination

Intensive instruction is crucial for special education students, especially when they are falling significantly behind their peers in academic, behavioral, and/or functional living skills. Learn how the systematic, research-validated approach of Direct Instruction accelerates learning in students with special needs and ensures every student can learn. View the research.

Webinars on Direct Instruction

Secondary MTSS/RTI: Tiered Solutions and Strategies to Propel Student Achievement

Today’s MTSS/RTI frameworks can empower secondary teachers to enhance literacy and math curricula. Learn from Dr. Mark Shinn and Dr. Mary Eisele about current, effective strategies and approaches, and discover examples of tiered solutions curriculum programs for ELA and math—designed to lift achievement for every secondary student.

Secondary Literacy: 5 Strategies for Accelerating ELA Proficiency in Grades 6–12 Learners

Learn strategies from Dr. Nancy Marchand-Martella and discover ways to enhance your English Language Arts curriculum and your literacy proficiency in struggling learners. Improve graduation rates, decrease the chance of incarceration, and significantly increase the earning potential of your students.

6 Steps to Mastery: Results with Direct Instruction

Today’s rigorous standards challenge schools to prepare all students for the demands of 21st century college and careers. But some student populations struggle to reach grade level and perform well on high-stakes tests. Regardless of the reason, Direct Instruction (DI) programs have the power to turn their lives around. Watch this District Administration Solutions Showcase featuring Kia Ellis.

RTI and Special Ed Strategies for Adolescent Learners

This presentation highlights the research-based strategies and programs shown to be effective for Special Education/intervention students in grades 6–12. It focuses on reading for understanding and college and career readiness skills.

Learn three reasons why special ed teachers and intervention specialists should embrace a method of instruction that's rooted in science.

Read the blog post "Direct Instruction in Your Classroom: 3 Reasons to #TeachWhatWorks".