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Reliably Teaching Children to Read

Research Applies to: Headsprout


This peer-reviewed article summarizes Headsprout’s approach to teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading fluency, and foundational reading comprehension. It also gives an overview of the process followed during the development and user validation of Headsprout Early Reading, including the formative evaluation of each instructional sequence in the program.


This article draws a distinction between programs that claim to be research-based and programs that follow a systematic research protocol for development and testing. To clarify that distinction, the authors explain the following aspects of product development and research validation:

  • Success criteria
  • Consistent (reliable) responses across students
  • Control-analysis formative evaluation
  • Design-test-revise-test approach to product development


Layng, T. V. J., Twyman, J. S., & Stikeleather, G. (2003). Headsprout Early Reading: Reliably teaching children to read. Behavioral Technology Today, 3, 7-20.

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