The History of Reading Research
T ike Joseph's coat, the history of reading research is a thing of many colors. L It is not a single, continuous stream of human endeavor but at least four and perhaps as many as six independent threads, each with its own methods and each moving to the beat of a different drummer. Basic research on reading processes occupies the most visible and prestigious position among these strands, but it has influenced reading practice the least. Research on reading instruction, although lacking suitable methodologies and often done by careless researchers, has nevertheless had a larger impact on practice. The testing movement has also had a major impact on reading instruction, and its origins are found neither in the concern for human variability that prompted research on reading processes in the late 1800s nor in attempts to improve school practices that began in the mid-1800s with the efforts of Horace Mann and Henry Barnard and that formed the immediate antecedents of the scientific study of education. Instead, the testing movement began with the French Enlightenment of the early nineteenth century, in particular with the desire to provide humane treatment for the mentally retarded.