The University of Iowa


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Since being established in 2012 by the Iowa Legislature, the Iowa Reading Research Center has conducted literacy research to guide the improvement of reading education and the reading performance of students across Iowa. Scientific research, such as that conducted at the Iowa Reading Research Center, provides the best guidance on “what works” in reading instruction for all students and reading interventions for students experiencing difficulties. Other rigorous studies can identify valid and reliable reading assessments, appropriate data-based decision making practices, and high quality professional development for educators. Findings of research conducted at the Iowa Reading Research Center have a direct application to schools and classrooms, and they can inform literacy education policy in Iowa.

Being part of top-tier research institution at the University of Iowa College of Education provides the Iowa Reading Research Center a rich academic environment and system of support to facilitate the best possible reading research.

Staff at the Iowa Reading Research Center have been involved in reading research at the national, state, and local level. Our staff members’ research specialties include literacy instruction for students with disabilities, content area reading instruction, reading instruction in correctional settings, identifying root causes to poor performance in literacy outcomes, quantitative methodology, reading assessment, and literacy development across the lifespan.

Iowa Reading Research Center Reports

Completed reports of reading research conducted by the Iowa Reading Research Center are available in electronic format via links within the project descriptions.

Early Literacy Survey of Iowa Elementary Schools: Statewide Results

To better define current literacy instructional practices and inform next steps, the Iowa Reading Research Center surveyed all Iowa elementary schools in November of 2018 on information related to their universal core instruction, interventions, and summer reading programs.

The survey found that:

  • The majority (65%) of schools responding to the survey indicated they are offering more than 90 minutes of daily core literacy instruction, and 46% to 53% reported offering more than 30 minutes of intervention each day. 
  • Approximately 64% of respondents indicated there is a high degree of consistency in the literacy instruction delivered by teachers across their buildings.
  • Most commonly, respondents reported teachers meet with their colleagues weekly (37%) or monthly (25%) to discuss students’ literacy data, and participate in 4-5 days (27%) or 2-3 days (24%) of literacy professional development.
  • Approximately 65% of schools reported offering their students summer learning opportunities, with 30% of such programs supported by community partners and 95% intended for students not reading proficiently.

PDF iconRead the full “Early Literacy Survey of Iowa Elementary Schools: Statewide Results”

Intensive Summer Reading Program (ISRP) study

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of intensive summer reading programs on the learning outcomes of students identified with reading difficulties at the end of Grade 3. Findings indicate the programs helped students who were struggling with reading maintain their reading skills during the summer months.

Visit the Intensive Summer Reading Program webpage

PDF iconRead the full "Report of the 2016 Intensive Summer Reading Program (ISRP) Study"

Summer Reading Programs Across Iowa

In an effort to better understand the state of summer reading programs in Iowa, the Iowa Reading Research Center commissioned “A Look at Summer Reading Programs Across Iowa” in 2015. Conducted by Iowa’s Regent Universities (Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Iowa), the report provided an overview of summer reading programming and how summer programs have been conducted and supported.

PDF iconRead the full report “A Look at Summer Reading Programs Across Iowa”