Grades K–5


50 Years of Success. One Powerful Curriculum. A Lifetime of Literacy.

With a legacy of success spanning over 50 years, Open Court Reading is backed by research into how students learn to read. Yet, the program continues to evolve to meet the rigorous and changing demands of today’s classrooms, as well as the ever-changing needs of students and teachers alike.

With success stories across the country, Open Court Reading has touched thousands of students across all levels of literacy to build strong readers, writers, and thinkers.

History of Open Court Reading

Research-Fueled Growth​

Initial research in early reading reveals that explicit phonics instruction is crucial for proficiency among emerging readers. This critical information moved Open Court Reading authors to make phonics a cornerstone of the program with Sound/Spelling Cards (first developed by Open Court Reading and an industry breakthrough), explicit instruction, and scaffolded instruction.

Ongoing Research

Additionally, Open Court Reading authors developed Decodable Books to help students apply and reinforce encoding and decoding skills. Continued research in vocabulary and comprehension introduced the need for advanced reading selections to support vocabulary development and critical comprehension.​

An Eye on the Future​

Today, Open Court Reading continues to evolve, responding to new technologies, valuable teacher feedback, and relevant research findings. It continues to achieve documented success in schools and districts across the country―aligning with changing classroom demographics to ensure equity across the socioeconomic spectrum and proactive inclusion for students at all levels of learning​.

Meets Top Tiers of ESSA Criteria

The What Works Clearinghouse™ (WWC) report from 2014 details two studies of the core literacy program Open Court Reading. This evidence-based report examined two studies which meet Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) criteria, one meeting Tier 1 (Strong Evidence) criteria while the other meeting Tier 2 (Moderate Evidence) criteria. ​

Summary of Findings (October 2014)

  • Studies conducted and cited in this report met WWC design standards and comprised a total of 1,113 students in grades 1 through 3 located in six states.​
  • With regards to effectiveness, the report states: "Open Court Reading was found to have potentially positive effects on general reading achievement and comprehension for beginning readers."​
  • Skindrud and Gersten (2006) found an average improvement index of +12 in general reading achievement. Borman et al. (2008) found an average improvement index of +10 in comprehension. These improvement indices show the expected percentile gain of the average student due to the intervention and usage of Open Court Reading​.

Thought Leadership

Foundational Skills: Five Ways to Build the Cornerstone of Proficient Reading​

This paper, presented by author Marsha Roit, presents the best practices for teaching primary grade students the foundational skills needed for language and literacy development.

Vocabulary: Why and How?

A white paper that addresses questions regarding vocabulary and how word meanings are taught vs. those left to experience without instructional attention.

Effective Teaching Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension in K–3 Students

A practical guide that focuses on strategies for skillful comprehension and effective comprehension instruction.

Building Effective Writing Skills

Steve Graham and Karen R. Harris discuss how to transition students from using a knowledge-based approach to writing to becoming thoughtful writers using four concepts: Create, Support, Teach, and Connect.

Four Basic Ingredients for Teaching Writing

This recorded webinar examines evidence-based practices for teaching writing to young students.

Request a Demo

Explore the Open Court Reading professional development materials by requesting a demonstration from your McGraw-Hill sales representative.