The issue of literacy--- especially in the early grades-has garnered much-needed attention globally in the last decade. Evidence of poor reading outcomes has focused both government and donor funding on efforts to improve literacy instruction and student achievement, especially in medium and low income countries. After more than a decade of effort, what key lessons have we learned about what works? The goal of the Landscape Report was to rigorously review evidence from the existing research base on early grade literacy outcomes and instruction in developing country context and to identify effective and promising practices, as well as gaps in the literature and evidence. Topics of the review included child-level factors (skills needed to develop literacy skills); instructional factors (effective instructional approaches); and larger contextual factors within which the student is embedded (e.g., home literacy environment, language of instruction, and larger system issues such as teacher education), and long-run considerations (e.g., sustainability, costs, and scaling up).
Our review found that explicit and systematic instruction on multi-components (e.g., phonological awareness, phonics) has yielded large and robust effects in decoding-related skills such as emergent literacy skills, word reading, and reading fluency. However, evidence is inconsistent and insufficient in the areas of higher-order skills (i.e., discourse-level oral language, reading comprehension and writing), instruction in multilingual contexts, and long-run considerations. The Landscape Report on Early Grade Reading offers a comprehensive model of the process of learning to read and write, and highlights the balance required between decoding-related skills and higher-order skills, which are often not given sufficient attention in literacy interventions. Research gaps and future directions will be discussed from the perspectives of systemic, long-term, and cumulative approaches.