Today, when information spreads like wild fire through the media and across the Web, we argue that the standards for reporting and interpreting educational research should be raised. The need for a higher standard is urgent in fields such as beginning reading, in which public interest is intense, because findings can quickly become distorted or misinterpreted and enshrined through misinformed policy decisions. Researchers investigating beginning reading should exercise extra caution to delimit findings from their own studies. They should take special pains to show how studies contribute to a larger picture of literacy development which policymakers and educational leaders, in turn, need to consider. We examine one recent, and uncommonly influential, reading methods study as an example of research that has been overly promoted by the media and misused by some policymakers and educational leaders to support a simple solution to the complex problem of raising the literacy of young children in high-poverty neighborhoods.
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