Grades K–12

Research for SRA Reading Laboratory Leveled Reading Program

Research Foundations

SRA Reading Laboratory was created in 1950 by Don H. Parker, Ph.D., who developed the idea while teaching in a rural Florida classroom. Faced with the challenge of reaching different levels of learners, Parker devised a method of breaking reading selections into color-coded levels. Students began reading at an appropriate reading level and worked upward through increasingly challenging content.

The program began with a simple system of components kept in a tomato box. Today the simple system remains, but has been updated to include engaging, contemporary literature, new technology, and a host of components that enhance the program’s proven format. SRA Reading Laboratory meets the guidelines of Reading First and are one of the most respected leveled reading programs used by teachers throughout the world.

Research Findings

The National Reading Panel research fully supports the fundamental concepts and instructional design of SRA Reading Laboratory. The report was published in December 2000 by The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development NIH Pub. No.00-4754.


You begin using the program in your classroom by giving a short six-minute test—the Starting Level Guide—to determine the color level in which each student should start. Even if your students have used the program before, it is still important to begin each school year with the Starting Level Guide and other introductory procedures to ensure the smooth working of the system.

  • Collins, C. (1991). Reading instruction that increases thinking abilities. Journal of Reading, 34(7), 510-516.
  • Pressley, M., El-dinary, P.B., Gaskins, I., Schuder, T., Bergman, J., Almasi, J., & Brown, R. (1992). Beyond direct explanation: Transactional instruction of reading comprehension strategies. Elementary School Journal, 92(5), 513-555.
  • Rosenshine, B., & Meister, C. (1997). Cognitive strategy instruction in reading. In S. Stahl & D. Hayes (Eds.), Instructional models in reading. (pp.85-107). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


This report includes research documentation that supports the phonics skills and strategies found in the Reading Laboratories. Examples of cited research include:

  • Adams, M.J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Chall, J. (1996a). Learning to read: The great debate (revised, with a new foreword). New York: McGraw Hill.
  • Ehri, L.C. (1998). Grapheme-phoneme knowledge is essential for learning to read words in English. In J.L. Metsala & L.C. Ehri (Eds.), Word recognition in beginning literacy. (pp. 3-40). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum


This report includes research documentation that supports the vocabulary skills and instructional practices found in the Reading Laboratories. Examples of cited research include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Beck, I.L., Perfetti, C.A., & McKeown, M.G. (1982). Effects of long-term vocabulary instruction on lexical access and reading comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(4), 506-521.
  • Gipe, J.P., & Arnold, R.D. (1979). Teaching vocabulary through familiar associations and contexts. Journal of Reading Behavior, 11(3), 281-285.
  • Kameenui, E., Carnine, D., & Freschi, R. (1982) Effects of text construction and instructional procedures for teaching word meanings on comprehension and recall. Reading Research Quarterly, 17(3), 367-388.
  • McKeown, M.G., Beck, I.L., Omanson, R.C., & Pople, M.T. (1985). Some effects of the nature and frequency of vocabulary instruction on the knowledge and use of words. Reading Research Quarterly, 20(5), 522-535.


This report includes research documentation that supports the fluency instruction and practices found in the Reading Laboratories. Examples of cited research include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Biemiller, A. (1977-78). Relationships between oral reading rates for letters, words, and simple text in the development of reading achievement. Reading Research Quarterly, 13, 223-253.
  • Pinnell, G.S., Pikulski, J.J., Wixson, K.K., Campbell, J.R., Gough, P.B., & Beatty, A.S. (1995). Listening to children read aloud. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.
  • Strecker, S., Roser, N., & Martinez, M. (1998). Toward understanding oral reading fluency. In T. Shanahan & F. Rodriguez-Brown (Eds.) Forty-seventh Yearbook of the National Reading Conference. (pp. 295-310). Chicago, IL: The National Reading Conference.
  • Wagner, R., Torgesen, J. & Rashotte, C. (1999). Comprehensive test of phonological processes. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Use the SRA Reading Laboratory to give your students a proven leveled reading program that builds confidence and fluency while fostering a love of reading. Each Reading Lab has selections that accommodate students at every level within a classroom.