Episode 33 - Base Systems Needed for Change in Reading Education with Tim Odegard, PhD

Episode Summary

Tim Odegard, PhD, joins the READ Podcast to discuss his research and perspectives on the state of reading policy and education in the United States. Dr. Odegard, a professor of psychology and the Katherine Davis Murfee Chair of Excellence in Dyslexic Studies of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), shares his story in school as he struggled to read as a child, which fueled his career and research in dyslexia and reading. Citing a variety of studies across reading, Dr. Odegard comments about the flaws in the system and its policies that have failed too many children across the United States. He outlines key drivers that are foundational for improving reading outcomes and offers a perspective for holding space and compassion toward greater unity to support all children in their endeavors in school and beyond.

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

"I conceptualize [our system] as a severed system that’s based off of different policy mechanisms… that have not been fundamentally reconceptualized and updated based off of 50 years worth of empirical study of how reading develops."

What are the base systems required for change?

Dr. Odegard outlines the base systems that act as drivers for change in reading policy and education. These highlighted drivers are:

1-    Implementation of high quality instruction driven by research

"You implement high quality reading instruction, and you allow the children to move through that reading instruction with high fidelity from highly skilled individuals."

2-    An understanding that interventions extend beyond curriculum

In implementation science, interventions are not only about curriculum but could include classroom instruction and pedagogy, professional development, coaching, or policy changes.

"Any behavioral intervention is considered an intervention, and it could be at multiple levels of an educational ecosystem. [Interventions] are not just confined to instruction that is provided [directly] to a child."

3-    Strong leadership

"How is your leadership breaking down silos, supporting communication, bringing people together to support professional development and the ongoing coaching and support needed to drive what’s happening in the behavioral interventions?"

4-    Comprehensive, systemic data

"I have learned through my research across the tens of thousands of published data points that we’re all in this together as an ecosystem. We truly do have to support the entire system in order to elevate each other as high as we can."


Read Dr. Odegard’s Chair Blog at The Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia here

Access resources at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia including videos, infographics, and instructional materials

Articles and studies referenced in this episode:

An Enabling Context for Hard Work (April 2021)

Finding Children with Dyslexia in a Sea of Struggling Readers: The Struggles are Readers (July 2021)

Characteristics of Students Identified with Dyslexia Within the Context of State Legislation (2020)

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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 and does not constitute an endorsement by The Windward Institute or The Windward School.