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The science of reading

Explore research, insights from thought leaders, and resources from the field.

A middle school girl looks on as a boy reads in a library
A literacy teacher points out a phonics question in a student workbook

The science of reading definition and resources

Get ready for a new era of literacy instruction grounded in the science of reading. This dedicated science of reading resource will help you learn more about the field, and give you access to the cutting-edge research and best practices you need to accelerate literacy improvement for your students. Together let’s unlock the power of literacy for all children.

Young student sitting at a desk smiling at a peer.

What is the science of reading?

Today the science of reading is a movement for what is best for developing readers and against theories that have been proven false. 95 Percent Group’s Chief Academic Officer Laura Stewart relies upon The Reading League’s book, “The Science of Reading: Defining Guide,” for her go-to definition.

From The Reading League

Science of reading definition

The science of reading is a vast, interdisciplinary body of scientifically-based research about reading and issues related to reading and writing. This research has been conducted over the last five decades across the world, and it is derived from thousands of studies conducted in multiple languages. The science of reading has culminated in a preponderance of evidence to inform how proficient reading and writing develop; why some have difficulty; and how we can most effectively assess and teach and, therefore, improve student outcomes through prevention of and intervention for reading difficulties.

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95 Percent Group Announces that 95 RAP, a Proven Solution for Tier 3 Reading Intervention, is Now Part of the One95 Literacy Platform

Reading Achievement Program supports teachers in providing intensive, individualized small group instruction to accelerate reading improvement for students with persistent reading difficulties, including dyslexia

The addition of this cutting-edge digital environment complements our proven, evidence-based science of reading resources, enabling us to deliver the full Literacy Ecosystem that teachers need to move students from intervention to proficiency.

Brad Lindaas

Brad Lindaas Chief Executive Officer

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elementary school girl smiles and pulls book from bookshelf in school library

The science of reading research says

Multidisciplinary research has confirmed that 95 percent or more of students can learn to read when provided with high-quality, evidence-aligned instruction. Yet too many students today are not learning to read. There is progress to make, but we know change is possible.

NAEP: The Nation’s Report Card 2022

33% of 4th graders are reading at or above proficient levels.

EAB Report on Literacy 2020

60% of elementary teachers have never been trained in strategies for teaching the foundational reading skills—phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Follow the science

95 Percent Group’s growing body of independent research confirms that evidence-aligned instruction and evidence-based resources accelerate reading improvement.

Read the latest efficacy studies

Research from multiple fields

The past several decades have yielded tremendous, interdisciplinary insights into the process of learning to read. The science of reading research draws from multiple fields of study.

Read the white paper

Cognitive psychology

Developing knowledge on how students learn to read helps educators align instruction with evidence.

Communication sciences

Supports understanding on how children acquire speech, language, and hearing.

Developmental psychology

Deepens understanding of how a child’s brain develops reading skills.


Supports instruction based upon how language works.

Cognitive neuroscience

Sheds light on how children develop the habits of mind that help them “learn to learn.”

A reading specialist engages a student in tactile phonics materials

Structured literacy: research into practice

Structured literacy brings knowledge and insights from the science of reading into practice using explicit, systematic instruction. The evidence we have is consistent and overwhelming: we know that explicit and systematic phonics instruction typically leads to better outcomes for children. A structured literacy approach is the foundation of the One95™ Literacy Ecosystem. Key elements are:


Skills are directly taught and practiced.


Knowledge and skills build on the last in a logical, “stairstep” order.


Consistent instructional routines across tiers give students and teachers a common language for success.


Diagnostic assessments help pinpoint skill deficits and personalize instruction to meet each child where they are.

Discover One95 Literacy Ecosystem
Headshot of Laura Stewart

Delivering on the promise of education starts with the mastery of the most fundamental foundational skill—the ability to read. Not only is reading critical to the success of further education but it is an expected accomplishment in order to thrive in contemporary society. Of equal importance, leading a literate life can bring immense joy to a human being’s life.

Laura Stewart, Chief Academic Officer

“The Science of Reading: Evidence for a New Era of Reading Instruction”
Recommended resources for your journey
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An elementary school girl absorbed in her literacy workbook lesson
95 Phonics Core Program® Resources

District spotlight: Changing reading instruction

Here we take an in-depth look at the Wicomico School District in Maryland, whose leadership and literacy team worked together to transform their approach to reading instruction. They saw, in return, strong student improvement. One changemaker, Dr. Renee R. Hall, offers tips for other educators on advancing literacy in their school or district.


increase in the impact of One95 literacy system on K-3 student reading scores year-over-year

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Success Story Resources

Courage, leadership, and the science of reading light the way for Panther Valley

95 Percent Group has allowed for a common language. For example, everyone knows that skill 6 is regular vowel teams—whether you’re doing the 95 Phonics Screener for Intervention™ (PSI™), the Phonics Lesson Library, or the Phonics Chip Kit—we are able to clearly speak about a student’s skill level and what they need and intervene at a high level.

ROBERT PALAZZO Principal, Panther Valley Elementary School

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Laura Stewart

Sold a Story: Building bridges for literacy

In the following article, Laura Stewart, Chief Academic Officer and literacy expert, reflects on Emily Hanford’s podcast series, Sold a Story. Episode 4 focuses on Teachers College Columbia professor Lucy Calkins: “She’s one of the most influential people in American elementary education today. Her admirers call her books bibles. Why didn’t she know that scientific research contradicted reading strategies she promoted?” It’s a good question. Read on for more.

This is a system that kids need to understand. They know it is a system, they know those squiggly lines on the page represent something. They want to be let in.

Headshot of Laura Stewart

Laura Stewart Chief Academic Officer

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african american middle school student reads in classroom
95 Phonics Core Program® Resources

Reading instruction for grades four and five

Most fourth and fifth grade classroom teachers across the country share an expectation that their students have mastered reading basics in K-3. In grades 4 and 5, teachers are prepared to help students dive right in and navigate complex, grade-level text in all subject areas.


of fourth graders scored basic or below in the NAEP reading achievement levels.

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One95 literacy ecosystem

District spotlight: Watch Fulton County

Every child deserves the right to read. Fulton County Schools, just outside the Atlanta city limits, has 80% minority enrollment and serves approximately 90,000 students, with 31% of them receiving free or reduced lunch.

A prescriptive, systematic, rigorous, and explicit phonics program. That’s our game changer. That’s 95 Percent Group.

Portrait of Jennifer Burton

Jennifer Burton Director of Literacy, Fulton County Schools

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Most districts claim they are doing ‘balanced literacy.’ In practice, this means that whole language got repackaged. People briefly teach phonics, but phonics is treated like salt on a meal. A little here and there, but not too much. The problem with teaching just a little bit of phonics is that phonics is crucial when it comes to learning how to read.

Emily Hanford

Hard Words: Why Aren’t Kids Being Taught to Read?
View of a small group using colorful manipulatives for reading instruction.

Put the science of reading into practice

Improve your instructional practices, get support through our ongoing coaching, or attend an upcoming workshop or webinar with experts in the Science of Reading.

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of elementary teachers have never been trained in strategies for teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension (EAB Report on Literacy).

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