Why Don't We Have Better Reading Instruction?

When kids struggle to learn how to read, it can lead to a downward spiral in which behavior, vocabulary, knowledge and other cognitive skills are eventually affected by slow reading development.3 A disproportionate number of poor readers become high school dropouts and end up in the criminal justice system.4

The fact that a disproven theory about how reading works is still driving the way many children are taught to read is part of the problem. School districts spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on curriculum materials that include this theory. Teachers are taught the theory in their teacher preparation programs and on the job. As long as this disproven theory remains part of American education, many kids will likely struggle to learn how to read.

The theory is known as "three cueing." The name comes from the notion that readers use three different kinds of information — or "cues" — to identify words as they are reading.

What kinds of information can readers use to read words?

One can use the pictures, of course. Young children often assume that is what is going on when their parents read to them (Ferreiro & Teberosky, 1982). They think the adults look at the pictures and makeup stories, not even recognizing the print has any role in the process.

Even more advanced kids, able to read some words themselves, may revert to picture-based-guessing when confronted with unknown words. This kind of thing can also be done when there are no pictures.

“The Three Reading Cueing Systems: The goal of reading is to make meaning. Readers use information sources to make meaning. Readers breakthrough to meaning by utilizing cueing systems known as information sources. There are three of these sources: meaning, structure, and visual. The goal is for students to be able to access all three information sources while reading independently. This is taught directly through the use of reading strategies” (p.8).

3 Cueing does not work, and until we stop utilizing this outdated system, we will continue to graduate illiterate students.

Reading Rockets Blog

A Guide to Help Your Child with Better Reading Instruction

Other great websites I recommend:

International Dyslexia Association

What Teachers Should Know About Reading

Reading Rockets!

Keys for Learning

The Orton Gillingham Online Academy


The Orton Gillingham Online Academy

Orthographic Mapping

Speech is Beautiful

Really Great Reading

Dr. Dan Willingham's

Reading Horizons

Five Ways to Build Lasting Self-Esteem

Recognizing Dyslexia May Prevent Low Self-Esteem and Anxiety