Marilyn Jager Adams

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Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams was born on December 14, 1948. She holds a Ph.D. from Brown University in cognitive psychology and developmental psychology and is internationally regarded for her research and applied work in the areas of cognition and education.

Recipient of the American Educational Research Association's Sylvia Scribner Award for outstanding research, Dr. Adams's contributions include the landmark book, Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print (1990).

Dr. Adams chaired the Planning Committee and was a member of the Study Committee for the National Research Council's report, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (1998). She has been on the Planning or Steering Committee for National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading Assessment since 1992. She was on the Advisory Panel for the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) and has been given responsibility with developing a vocabulary module for the 2013 NAAL. She is working on this task in collaboration with Dr. Kathryn Spoehr, of Brown University.

Dr. Adams was Senior Author of the Kindergarten and Grade 1 levels of Open Court Publishing Company's 1995 reading and writing program, "Collections for Young Scholars"; the research-documented efficacy of this program (Foorman et al., 1998) was arguably a major impetus for the focus on better classroom reading programs within the Reading First component of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Dr. Adams was the Principal Scientist of Phonics Instruction of Scholastic Inc.’s phonics intervention and foundational reading program “System 44”; which combines research-based phonics instruction with adaptive technology, and has been proven to improve the learning trajectories of the most at-risk students in Grades 3-12+.

Dr. Adams also designed the continuous scope and sequence for Scholastic Inc.’s K-2 foundational literacy program, “iRead”; which draws upon her expertise as an architect of the Common Core State Standards to ensure that every student leaves second grade on a predictable path to college and career readiness.

Other instructional resources of which Dr. Adams was principal author are "Phonemic Awareness in Young Children" (1997) for emergent and remedial reading students, CTB/McGraw-Hill's "Fox in a Box," an award-winning, standards-based literacy assessment kit, and "Odyssey: A Curriculum for Thinking," a research-validated program on thinking skills that was originally developed for the Republic of Venezuela.

Dr. Adams has served as Literacy Advisor for "Sesame Street" and has been Senior Advisor for Instruction for PBS's "Between the Lions" since its inception. She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences Department at Brown University and Chief Scientist at Soliloquy Learning, a software company which she co-founded in 2000 with the mission of harnessing automated speech recognition in service of affordable, effective one-on-one support to students in learning to read and reading to learn. Soliloquy Learning's software is called the Soliloquy Reading Assistant. The Reading Assistant software was acquired by Scientific Learning in 2008.

Dr. Adams was cited in the 2001 Politics of Education Yearbook as one of the five most influential people in the national reading policy arena (McDaniel et al., 2001).

In 2013,(publication/copyright date reference is at: Dr Adams published what is probably her most important book, "ABC Foundations For Young Children", in which she presented newly published proof that most American children finishing first-grade still can't name and write all of the alphabet letters. This national tragedy is most damaging to the children of the poor and of minority parents, and is easily remediable, as she gives plain advice for in the rest of the book.


1. Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

2. Adams, M. J., Foorman, B. R., Lundberg, I., & Beeler, T. (1998). Phonemic Awareness in Young Children: A Classroom Curriculum. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

3. 3. Foorman, B.R., Francis, D.J., Fletcher, J.M., Schatschneider, C., and Mehta, P. (1998). The role of instruction in learning to read: Preventing reading failure in at-risk children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 37-55.

4. McDaniel, J.E., Sims, C.H., & Miskel, C.G. (2001). The National Reading Policy Arena: Policy actors and perceived Influence. Educational Policy, 15, 92-114.

5. National Reading Panel (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

6. National Research Council. (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.


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