What is the Science of Reading (SoR)?
The Science of Reading (SoR) is not a teaching approach, nor is it a reading program. It is also not a prescription to remediate all reading difficulties for all children in all contexts. It is the term now in increasingly common use to describe the converging consensus of how children learn to read based on a mature body of research evidence involving multiple, quality studies.
The fact that the SoR is a knowledge base rather than a specific program or approach presents several challenges to teachers of early reading looking for 'best practice' strategies. Which strategies are 'best practice' according to the SoR? Why aren't teachers taught how children learn to read using the best possible evidence?
Many teachers are unaware of the converging evidence of how children learn to read because they were not offered this information in any depth in their initial training. This means that even experienced teachers and principals may also be unaware of current research and may be relying on inaccurate knowledge. See Barriers to Teaching and Learning.
Unfortunately, both 'whole language' and 'balanced literacy' approaches are based on a number of deeply-held beliefs rather than verifiable scientific inquiry and are therefore unreliable for a wide range of learners. (See What's Wrong with Whole Language and Balanced Literacy?)
For teachers to use the knowledge gained over forty years of scientific research into early reading, they need to be well informed of its key findings in order the make practice choices that have the best opportunity to assist a wide range of learners.
Teachers armed with knowledge gained from well-constructed, scientifically designed studies are able to choose practices that align with this knowledge with confidence, knowing they are based on reliable evidence.
Teachers can then design instruction that can be applied (and adapted as necessary) in their context. In this way, education and science form an adaptive, collaborative team that respects eachother's knowledge and skill and work together to ensure more children learn to read.