What if a huge federal study didn’t produce the expected results? Columnist Linda Seebach bashes the education elite for rejecting the results of Project Follow Through, which showed Zig Engelmann’s Direct Instruction curriculum works far better than other models.
The models started in 1968 with a cohort of kindergartners, if the schools had a kindergarten, and added a grade each year up to grade 3. After full implementation, 40,000 children were tested.
When the results were analyzed, Direct Instruction had won the horse race going away. It was first in basic skills, but it was also the only model that had positive results on all three higher-order cognitive skills, and it was also first in affective measures, how children feel about themselves. It was first with high performers and with low performers, with different ethnic groups and with non-English speakers. After DI training, teachers were able to get even very low-performing children reading by the end of kindergarten.
Many of the models that proved ineffective continued to receive funding. DI remained a pariah.