Articles by Siegfried (Zig) Engelmann

Common Core Standards

Problems with Literacy Standard 2.4

Another outrageous example of Common Core Standards for grade 2 is Literature Reading Standard 2.4. When you read the standard below, don’t think of the top kids in a second-grade classroom. Think of the lower performers. More


The Blips of Neuroscience

Researchers have discovered a great deal about how the brain works. Some even suggest that facts about the brain have serious implications for education. For instance, Harvard’s graduate program in education offers a course titled, Mind, Brain, and Education. More


Teaching Within the Zone of Proximal Development

One of the very few concepts that appears in more popular notions about learning and development is the zone of proximal development. Vygotski described the zone of proximal development as the difference between a learner’s current level of performance and what the learner can learn with assistance. More


Constructivism Versus Students

Constructivism has captured the imagination of many educators, but it is not a strong theory. The tenets that serve as a foundation for constructivism don’t rigorously or even vaguely imply any of the theory’s practices. More


Oregon's Matrix, The Emperor's Latest Clothes

Oregon’s Matrix for evaluating teachers and administrators is a model that is unacceptable because it fuses goals and ratings with plans. The model’s most serious flaw is that ratings and plans are not strictly referenced to student performance. More


Critique of Lowercased di (direct instruction)

Direct instruction has crystallized in two forms: an uppercased (UC) DI and a lowercased (lc) di. The uppercased version consists of published programs developed by Siegfried Engelmann and his coauthors. Lowercased di consists of procedures for providing instruction directly. Different designers have different rules for (lc) di, but their orientations have common features, and all designs share serious problems that stem from their assumptions. More


Litmus Test for Urban School Districts

The most frustrating aspect of trying to work with failed school districts (which includes virtually all of the top 100 largest districts) that they have archaic organizational structures that prohibit them from learning how to be effective with failed students...More


Commentary on Bersin's Article:
"Making Schools Work"

I think that Bersin's article describes some of the problems with education quite wellon the political level. The real problem, however, is tying the political level to the picky details that have to go on in a school (and district) for any substantive reform to occur... Go to article.


Reading First = Kids First

I was asked to write this article for Oregon's Future, which apparently has an editorial approach that is not afraid to have the outcasts and rebels present their case... More


Professional Standards in Education

The article Professional Standards in Education makes the case that the field of education is not accountable, although there are professional standards in areas that have a lot in common with education, like psychology... More


Zig's Letter to Education Week Defending
"The Pet Goat"

Following the lead of "Fahrenheit 9/11", Dennis Baron wrote a commentary (Sept. 8, 2004) for Education Week. In it, he referred to the scene in which Bush was told about the assault on the Twin Towers. Baron belittled DI... More







Impediments to Scaling Up Effective
Comprehensive School Reform Models

"Impediments to Scaling Up" is a chapter in a book that my son Kurt and I did for the RAND Corporation, Expanding the Reach of Education Reforms... More


The Dalmatian and Its Spots:
Why Research-Based Recommendations Fail Logic 101

"The Dalmatian and Its Spots" appeared in Education Week, January 28, 2004. It attacks the unsound reasoning educational researchers use when they specify features that programs should have to be "research based"... More

District-Based Teacher Certification Model

In 2004, a colleague asked me to write an article on training teachers exclusively for teaching at-risk populations. There are all kinds of current wrinkles that are being used to configure what different people believe will be effective training... More

Education's Disregard for At-Risk Students

One of the unfinished books that I have on my computer is tentatively titled, Data Be Damned. It addresses what has to be the central problem with education, which is that it has no regard for data or logic... More


Inferred Function of Performance and Learning

Inferred Function of Performance and Learning is a book I co-authored with Don Steely. I believe this book presents the basic principles of learning (not instruction) and has been pretty thoroughly ignored by mainstream education... More


Science vs. Basic Educational Research

Since its inception, basic educational research has drawn conclusions that go far beyond the evidence and have used methods that are, at best, arrogant. The system is self-propagating largely because the researchers lack detailed information about teaching... More


Summary of Presentation to Council
of Scienctific Society Presidents

This summary presents data on the effectiveness of Direct Instruction, indicates what I believe to be my most seminal achievement, and concludes with observations about the power in supplementing basic research with detailed evaluations and study of programs and interventions that work most effectively... Go to article.


Hirsch's Cargo Cults Revisited

In "Classroom Research and Cargo Cults," E. D. Hirsch pleads the case for laboratory research rather than "classroom research." I don't know Hirsch's motives, but I suspect his article....did not show significant gains in achievement with at-risk kids... More


Student-Program Alignment
and Teaching to Mastery

When students are taught to mastery, they become smarter, acquire information faster, and
develop efficient strategies for learning... Go to document.


The Curriculum as a Cause of Failure

Geoff Colvin, a behaviorist, presented this article to graduate students. Some of students later indicated that they were both shocked and insulted because this was the first time they had heard anything about the relationship between curriculum and failure... More


Advocacy for Children

I wrote this vitriolic condemnation of the educational system in 1982 in response to what I considered the rape of children by the schools. I still agree with 90 percent of what I wrote... More



© 2012 Siegfried Engelmann. All rights reserved.