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.

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".