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Science of Reading

What is the Science of Reading?

“Science of reading” refers to a comprehensive body of research that has supported strategies and methods found to enhance reading.   The recommendations that derive from the Science of Reading (SoR) are those that have been consistently supported, over many years, by multiple credible researchers, across multiple settings with a diverse array of students and schools.

Early Literacy Skills

One of the most consistently important themes from SoR studies focuses on the question of which early literacy skills must be taught.  This question was addressed by the National Reading Panel  and more recently by the publication "Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade" In both of these landmark publications, experts recommended the teaching of the "Big Five" skills which include:

  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

Students who master these skills are likely to remain good readers.

Simple View of Reading

The Science of Reading supports the “simple view of reading” which says that reading has two basic components: word recognition (decoding) and language comprehension.

The Simple View formula presented by Gough and Tunmer in 1986 is:

Decoding (D) x Language Comprehension (LC) = Reading Comprehension (RC)

iSTEEP screening, diagnostic and progress monitoring assessments measure each of these three areas. 

iSTEEP Language Comprehension Assessments
Oral Language Assessment (Expressive Language)
Reading Vocabulary (Receptive Language)


iSTEEP Decoding Assessments
Initial Sound Fluency
Nonsense Word Fluency
CVC sounds
Letter Sound Fluency


iSTEEP Reading Comprehension
Reading Maze
Smart Cloze
Advanced Literacy


iSTEEP Support for the Science of Reading

iSTEEP supports the Science of Reading (SoR) and has strong assessments for all the Big Five Skills.   In a national review of screening assessments from 20 publishers by NCII, iSTEEP was the only publisher with assessments targeted for all the Big Five Skills.  In addition, iSTEEP had solid evaluations for technically sound assessments from the panel of screening experts.

NCII Ratings:  The chart shows each of the 5 SoR areas at the grade level where the skill is commonly the central instructional focus.  The iSTEEP assessments at each corresponding grade level were evaluated by the NCII Technical Review Committee for evidence of reliability and validity using the following rubrics:  convincing evidence (full bubble), partially convincing evidence (half bubble), unconvincing evidence (empty bubble).  


How We Help with SoR

We agree with Louisa Moats that “Teaching Reading is Rocket Science”, and we make it easy to get started because our assessments are:

  • High quality assessments that test all the Big 5 areas.
  • Timed for just 1 minute, for most assessments.
  • Technically solid. If your assessments are not accurate, then your decisions about students won’t be accurate.  Bad data can’t
    be cleaned up with technology such as Artificial Intelligence,  or computers that listen to kids read, or screens filled with cool
    reports.  Poor quality scores lead to bad decisions (Garbage in/Garbage out).  Good data-based decision making requires
    accurate and reliable assessments.


The teaching of reading is the sine qua non of schooling because reading is the gateway to all academic achievement, and it is related to social well-being