What is Evidence Based?

Evidence based should be used rather than research based as they are not the same. Per Dr. Sally Shaywitz, evidence based is proven methods while scientifically based reading research (SBRR) is based on theories of science but not necessarily proven.

Evidence based is systematic, explicit instruction and the term evidence based must be used in:

  • early screening
  • intervention
  • professional development
  • training
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An excerpt from A Major Step Forward by The Yale Center for Dyslexia And Creativity:

Cautionary Note:
Prior to selecting a reading program, you must always ask:  “Show me the evidence.”

We must ensure that programs that are used truly meet the standard of “evidence –based” and that this scientific term is not used indiscriminately, that is, plunked down to describe a program that does not truly meet the high standard and implications of what “evidence-based” implies. This means that if a program promotes itself as “evidence-based,” it must be required to produce evidence of a randomized field trial where the program in question is tested against other programs and that this program was demonstrated as effective in improving students’ reading. The model for such evidence-based field trials are those required by the FDA for medications before the medication is approved as effective and ready for use.

It would be a shame to allow the term “evidence-based” to be used to describe a program, indiscriminately, without reliable evidence that the program is actually effective in improving students’ reading. It is important to appreciate that anecdotal or received wisdom is insufficient. We have come too far and made too much progress to allow anything less than valid scientific evidence to be used in determining if, indeed, a program is effective in improving students’ reading. Thus, there must be a strict criterion of proof emanating from positive field trials – whether used:

  • in a school to teach children to read;
  • by colleges to train future teachers of reading; or
  • in providing professional development to teachers.

The gold standard must be proof (evidence) that the program improves the children’s reading. To accept anything less would be a regressive step backwards and a loss for all the parents, educators and children who are eagerly awaiting programs that truly have evidence that they are effective.

The above is an excerpt from the article A Major Step Forward.  Please take the time to read the entire article as it is excellent.  It summarizes “The Science of Dyslexia” House Committee Hearing as well as provides Dr. Sally Shaywitz’s recommendations made to the Congressional Science, Space and Technology Committee on September 18, 2014.  Please also refer to The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity’s Dyslexia Declaration of Rights.

Please watch Dr. Sally Shaywitz at the House Committee hearing on “The Science of Dyslexia,” September 18, 2014 as she explains the difference between Evidence-Based Programs compared to Research-Based Programs and why we need to select evidence-based programs to help students with dyslexia succeed. Evidence based instruction is not only crucial for the 1 in 5 students with dyslexia, but it makes ALL students more successful.