‘My kids read better than your kids’

Chapter 3 of Zig Engelmann’s book on Direct Instruction and Project Follow Through is now up on his web site. D-Ed Reckoning provides a devastating quote from a discussion between Engelmann and the senior reading teacher, who argues his lockstep reading program squashes teachers’ creativity. A first-year teacher interrupts.

She said, “Angie, you know more about reading than I’ll ever know. You know linguistics, and all those theories I don’t understand. All I know how to do is follow the program. I do what it tells me to do in black type, and I say what it tells me to say in red type. But Angie, my kids read better than your kids, and you know it.”

Also on D-Ed Reckoning: Reading First has earned the Office of Management and Budget’s highest rating for effectiveness. Only 17 percent of all federal programs are rated “effective” by OMB, D-Ed says.

About Joanne


  1. Hi, I was wondering what you thought of DI and the quote…

  2. I don’t know a lot about Direct Instruction except that it worked well in Project Follow Through and it seems to work well where tried now. As long as schools with lots of low-income children are staffed with inexperienced teachers, scripted programs are likely to be more effective than encouraging each teacher to be creative and do his or her own thing. Whether a scripted program is better than a good teacher . . . Well it seemed to be in this example, but I’m not sure it would be as a general rule.

    I’ve talked to teachers who resisted Success for All because of the scripting, but then decided that it helped them do a better job and coordinate their teaching with their colleagues.

  3. The script is merely a shortcut to teacher training. You could dispense with the script if you had a few years to train the teachers. Here’s a small study on teachers’ perceptions of DI and its scripts.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Is it fair to talk about results in these kinds of discussions?
    Could it end your career?