Episode 20 - Translating Reading Practices, Transforming Education Policies with Emily Solari, PhD

Episode Summary

The guest for this episode, Emily Solari, PhD, is a leader in academia and reading research as well as a true disruptor. We tackle the big question that is saturating current public and education discourse: How do we change reading achievement in this country? Dr. Solari offers her expertise on applying evidence-based instruction across school settings and addresses why our education system needs to enact simultaneous change in all policy areas to advance literacy outcomes for all students. She operationalizes key terms such as the Science of Reading (SoR), evidence-based instruction, and intervention. Citing her research and experience in school settings, she emphasizes the importance of making research and curriculum efficient, feasible, and effective for teachers and discusses the benefits of translational science. At the end of the conversation, Dr. Solari and Danielle talk more about advocating for the advancement of women in science. This conversation speaks to Dr. Solari’s impact and her continued call to action to implement change across the system of education.

Top READ Bookmarks
Each episode, host Danielle Scorrano identifies key takeaways or “READ bookmarks.” 

1. Solving the Nation’s Reading CrisisDr. Solari discusses her calls to enact change in reading policy and education across the nation, previously outlined in her June 2020 article, “Solari: To Stem the Nation’s Reading Crisis, Made Worse by COVID-19, Teachers, Districts & States Must Push Multiple Levers.”

"The goal is that we want all kids to learn how to read and all kids deserve access to appropriate instruction."

To enact change, Dr. Solari calls to simultaneously “push multiple levers” in:

  • Teacher preparation
  • In-service professional development
  • State-level adoptions of curriculum, assessments, and screening
  • Teacher evaluation

"The teacher prep programs have to be aligned with what's happening in the school system. I have a lot of discussions with different districts around the adoption of curricula and professional development models. I think that there's a little bit of misunderstanding… Just adopting a new curriculum is not also going to [automatically] change practice."

As we continue to navigate education in a post-pandemic world, the implementation of universal screening and evidence-based reading instruction should be a pressing priority, especially for students from marginalized communities and for the most vulnerable populations.

"The reality is, reading is foundational for many different subjects in school, and we need to be able to get into schools and accurately and reliably screen kids and provide the correct dosage and intensity for the kids who really need extra support."

2. The Importance of Language, Terminology, and the Science of Reading (SoR)

The language we use to clarify and operationalize research and education terms hold important implications for their application in school settings.

"The Science of Reading and evidence-based practice are not exactly the same thing. We do know that a lot of the evidence-based practices are aligned with the Science of Reading."

3. Translating Research to Practice

We need to ensure teachers are knowledgeable in the Science of Reading and armed with resources and curriculum to implement evidence-based instruction based on how children learn to read and why certain children may struggle.

Three hallmarks of translating from research into practices for teachers include:

  • Effectivity
  • Efficiency
  • Feasibility

"Evidence-based instruction… should be happening in every single classroom across the country."

To better understand the bidirectional relationship between research and educational settings, translational science offers a framework through the collaboration between basic scientists, applied researchers, educational leaders, and teachers.

"We think of [translation science] as a team model and a continuum from basic science to implementation in schools… Often where [it] gets lost in translation… is that we have people who know a lot about the science of reading and how the brain works, but not so much about how schools work."


Read Dr. Solari’s June 2020 article in The 74 Million, “Solari: To Stem the Nation’s Reading Crisis, Made Worse by COVID-19, Teachers, Districts & States Must Push Multiple Levers.”

Connect with Dr. Solari on Twitter   Translational Science: A Road Map for the Science of Reading

Resources for educators:

Florida Center for Reading Research  Haskins Global Literacy Hub The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk


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READ Podcast is produced by The Windward School and The Windward Institute. READ is hosted by Danielle Scorrano.

About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.
Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests.