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Catherine Snow

Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor of Education
(On Leave Spring 2016)
Catherine Snow

Degree:  Ph.D., McGill University, (1971)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.495.3563
Fax:  617.495.5771
Vitae/CV:   Catherine Snow.pdf
Office:  Larsen 313
Faculty Assistant:  Andrena Mason


Catherine Snow is an expert on language and literacy development in children, focusing on how oral language skills are acquired and how they relate to literacy outcomes. Snow has chaired two national panels: the National Academy of Sciences committee that prepared the report "Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children," and the Rand Reading Study Group that prepared "Reading for Understanding: Toward an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension." Her research activities include a longitudinal study of language and literacy skills among low-income children who have been followed for 15 years since age three; following the language development of young children participating in the Early Head Start intervention; studying the vocabulary development of first- and second-language learners; and considering aspects of transfer from first to second language in the domains of language and literacy. Her book, Preparing Our Teachers: Opportunities for Better Reading Instruction, is one of several efforts she is involved in to develop consensus among teacher-educators about what pre- and in-service elementary teachers need to know about language and literacy. Snow has also written about bilingualism and its relation to language policy issues such as bilingual education in the United States and in developing nations, and about testing policy. She is currently involved in efforts to improve middle-school literacy outcomes, in partnership with other Boston area researchers and the Boston Public Schools.

Areas of Expertise

Morningstar Teaching Award, Harvard Graduate School of Education,(2004)

Honorary Degree, University of Nijmegen,(2003)

Carnegie Corporation of New York, Institute for Statewide Literacy Initiatives,(2002)

Charles A. Ferguson Fellow, Center for Applied Linguistics,(2001)

Spencer Senior Scholar Award,(1999)

American Educational Research Association (AERA) Grant

Sponsored Projects

National Research and Development Center for English Language Learners (2012-2012)
University of Houston

Catalyzing comprehension through Discussion debate (2010-2015)
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences

Harvard Graduate School of Education will work with the Strategic Education Research Partnership and other partners to complete a program of work designed to a) investigate the predictors of reading comprehension in 4th-8th grade students, in particular the role of skills at perspective-taking, complex reasoning, and academic language in predicting deep comprehension outcomes, b) track developmental trajectories across the middle grades in perspective-taking, complex reasoning, academic language skill, and deep comprehension, c) develop and evaluate curricular and pedagogical approaches designed to promote deep comprehension in the content areas in 4th-8th grades, and d) develop and evaluate an intervention program designed for 6th-8th grade students reading at 3rd-4th grade level.The HGSE team will take responsibility, in collaboration with colleagues at other institutions, for the following components of the proposed work:Instrument development: Pilot data collection using interviews and candidate assessment items, collaboration with DiscoTest colleagues to develop coding of the pilot data so as to produce well-justified learning sequences for perspective-taking, complex reasoning, academic language skill, and deep comprehension.Curricular development: HGSE investigators Fischer, Selman, Snow, and Uccelli will contribute to the development of a discussion-based curriculum for 4th-5th graders, and to the expansion of an existing discussion-based curriculum for 6th-8th graders, with a particular focus on science content (Fischer), social studies content (Selman), and academic language skills (Snow & Uccelli).Curriculum implementation: HGSE investigators Fischer, Selman, Snow and Uccelli will be heavily involved in conceptualizing professional development, fidelity and quality of implementation instruments, and monitoring of implementation for the 4th-8th grade curricular enhancements.Evaluation of curricular enhancements: HGSE investigators Jones and Kim, together with a data manager and a small team of doctoral students, will conduct the design and analysis associated with the school-level random-assignment evaluation of the 4th-8th grade curriculum innovations. Harvard doctoral and master’s students will collect the data needed for the evaluation study, under the supervision of a project manager who is a SERP employee.Development/implementation of SARI intervention: HGSE investigator Jennifer Thomson will collaborate with Wheelock-based investigator Lowry Hemphill to expand and extend the SARI intervention for struggling readers, and to oversee the implementation of the program.Evaluation of SARI intervention: HGSE investigators Kim and Jones together with a data manager and a small team of doctoral students, will conduct the design and analysis associated with the student-level random-assignment evaluation of the SARI intervention. Production of papers and reports: The entire HGSE team, including the postdoctoral fellow, will take responsibility for conducting analyses needed to answer the central research questions, writing up reports and articles for publication, making presentations, and making the curricular and intervention programs shown to be effective publicly available.

NCER-AARW, Goal 3: World Generation: An Efficacy Trial (2009-2013)
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences

We propose an Efficacy and Replication Study (Goal Three) of an intervention called Word Generation, which is focused on developing adolescent students’ knowledge and use of academic language. This study fulfills all the requirements for a Goal Three study: we are testing an intervention that has been fully developed, field-tested, and improved over three years of collaboration with implementing practitioners. The intervention is currently in year three of pilot implementation in one urban district. Though the proposed intervention has so far been used systematically in only one setting, results from that setting strongly support the value of a systematic, experimental evaluation of it. We document in this proposal a) the thorough consistency of the intervention design with prior research and theory on vocabulary development, b) evidence that components incorporated into the proposed intervention have been shown to be effective in prior quasi-experimental studies, and c) pilot data showing that Word Generation can be feasibly implemented in urban schools serving many struggling, low-income, and language-minority learners, is embraced enthusiastically by both students and teachers in such schools, and is associated with improvement in student vocabulary knowledge and use.


Snow, C.E., Griffin, P., Burns, M.S. and the NAE Subcommittee on Teaching Reading. Knowledge to support the teaching of reading: Preparing teachers for a changing world. Jossey-Bass.,(2005)

Sweet, A. & Snow, C.E. (Editors). Rethinking Reading Comprehension. New York: The Guilford Press.,(2003)

Strickland, D., Snow, C., Griffin, P., Burns, M.S., and McNamara, P. Preparing our teachers: opportunities for better reading instruction. Washington, DC: J. Henry Press.,(2002)

Blum-Kulka, S. & Snow, C.E. (Editors). Talking to adults. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.,(2002)

Adger, C. T., Snow, C. E., & Christian, D. (Editors). What Teachers Need to Know About Language. Washington, DC, and McHenry, IL: Center for Applied Linguistics and Delta Systems Co., Inc.,(2002)

Ready, T., Edley, C. Jr., & Snow, C.E. (Editors). Achieving high educational standards for all. Washington DC: National Academy Press.,(2001)

Verhoeven, L. & Snow, C.E. (Editors). Motivation and reading: Cultural and social perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.,(2001)

Burns, M.S., Griffin, P., & Snow, C.E. (Editors). Starting out right: A guide to promoting children’s reading success. Washington DC: National Academy Press.,(1999)

Snow, C.E., Burns, S. & Griffin, P. (Editors). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.,(1998)

Ninio, A. & Snow, C.E. Pragmatic Development. Boulder: Westview Press.,(1996)

Sokolov, J.L. & Snow, C.E. (Editors). Handbook of research in language development using CHILDES. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.,(1994)

Snow, C.E., Barnes, W.S., Chandler, J., Hemphill, L., and Goodman, I.F. Unfulfilled expectations: Home and school influences on literacy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.,(1991)

Conti-Ramsden, G. & Snow, C.E. (Editors). Children's language: Volume 7. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.,(1990)

Cazden, C. & Snow, C.E. (Issue editors). English plus: Issues in bilingual education. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 508.,(1990)

Snow, C.E. (Issue editor). The social context: Language development and language disorders. Topics in Language Disorders, Vol. 4, No. 4, September.,(1984)

Waterson, N. and Snow, C.E. (Editors). The development of communication. London: John Wiley.,(1978)

Snow, C.E. and Ferguson, C.A. (Editors). Talking to children: Language input and acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.,(1977)

Tervoort, B., van der Geest, A., Hubers, G., Prins, R., and Snow, C.E Psycholinguistiek (Psycholinguistics). Aula paperback 481, Amsterdam: Het Spectrum.,(1972)


Chair, RAND Reading Study Group,(2000-2002)

Editor, Applied Psycholinguistics,(1984-2002)

President, American Educational Research Association,(1999-2000)

Chair, Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences

Cofounder, Child Language Data Exchange System

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