Aus: 'Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study'

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Aus: 'Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:59 am

Jordan Baker writes about a newly published study (Anne Castles, Kathleen Rastle, Kate Nation) in the Sydney Morning Herald:


https://www.smh.com.au/education/call-o ... 4zkx8.html

Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study

By Jordan Baker
12 June 2018

Phonics is essential in the early stages of learning to read but sight words have their place too, according to a new study that aims to end the reading wars.

The study, which involved Sydney's Macquarie University, found many educators were "biased" against phonics because they worried it led to children reading robotically, without comprehending what was on the page.

Yet phonics gave children the key to translating a printed word into its spoken form. Once they were exposed to words multiple times and began to recognise them, the focus could move to comprehension, the study found.

"What we want to say is stop the reading wars," said Professor Anne Castles of Macquarie University.
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Re: Aus: 'Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:07 pm

And hot off the press, here is the study, published 11th June 2018:

http://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/Vxwb ... xtuGZ/full

Ending the Reading Wars: Reading Acquisition From Novice to Expert

Anne Castles, Kathleen Rastle, Kate Nation

First Published June 11, 2018


Abstract

There is intense public interest in questions surrounding how children learn to read and how they can best be taught. Research in psychological science has provided answers to many of these questions but, somewhat surprisingly, this research has been slow to make inroads into educational policy and practice. Instead, the field has been plagued by decades of “reading wars.” Even now, there remains a wide gap between the state of research knowledge about learning to read and the state of public understanding. The aim of this article is to fill this gap. We present a comprehensive tutorial review of the science of learning to read, spanning from children’s earliest alphabetic skills through to the fluent word recognition and skilled text comprehension characteristic of expert readers. We explain why phonics instruction is so central to learning in a writing system such as English. But we also move beyond phonics, reviewing research on what else children need to learn to become expert readers and considering how this might be translated into effective classroom practice. We call for an end to the reading wars and recommend an agenda for instruction and research in reading acquisition that is balanced, developmentally informed, and based on a deep understanding of how language and writing systems work.
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Re: Aus: 'Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:58 pm

For anyone deeply interested in discussions about sight-word reading as mentioned in the paper featured in the previous post, including the issue of 'how much' planned alphabetic code to teach, and questions about what a 'Letters and Sounds' school actually 'looks like' (do 'Letters and Sounds' schools all provide phonics in the same, or similar, way with similar content and approach?), then this Read Oxford blog post provides some further insight into these issues:

http://readoxford.org/guest-blog-are-si ... y-slighted

Important questions raised in the blog include 'where to go next with research?'

One of my suggestions is encouraging researchers into classrooms to see first hand the variation of phonics provision and phonics programmes' provision.

I would also encourage researchers to attend a wide range of phonics training events to see how they might vary.
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Re: Aus: 'Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:55 pm

Here is a further news article with statements from Dr Gardner showing, already, that the reading debate will not be won by anyone producing any amount of research findings to support 'phonics' anytime soon!

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-13/p ... ll/9863204

Phonics study hopes to end reading wars once and for all

A new scientific study that aims to end the so-called reading wars has found that phonics is an essential foundation in the early stages of learning to read, but it is only part of the approach.

The paper said the battle between phonics and a whole language approach had become too politicised and they hoped their findings would resolve the issue once and for all.

But an end to hostilities could seem optimistic, with some educators still maintaining their opposition to structured phonics screening checks.


Towards the end of the article, Dr Gardner makes reference to 'commercial enterprises promoting decodable books' and later comments 'if you take a much broader approach to the teaching of early reading, you actually take it out of the economic sphere'.

I want to take issue with the irrationality of these comments. First of all, everyone hopes to make a living somehow - and what counts with anything 'commercial' is that it is of good value economically and educationally (in this field) and informed by research. The efficacy of the use of decodable books is based on the findings of research and best practice. In measuring the value to education, their commerciality is totally irrelevant. It is also extraordinary that Dr Gardner should suggest that 'taking a broader approach' takes 'it' (what) 'out of the economic sphere'. ????? Does the 'broader approach' involve nothing commercial? No children's story books for example - and goodness knows what else that involves someone, somewhere earning a living?

In the world of education and children's life chances (levels of literacy), commerciality is totally irrelevant - what counts is what works best - and, for that, uptake of a large-scale objective screening check - such as the Phonics Screening Check - makes a huge contribution to inform us all.

Thank goodness for Education Minister Simon Birmingham in Australia and Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, in England! They get it.

But Dr Gardner is concerned by the Federal Government's moves to implement a national Year 1 phonics screening check because, he said, it was a flawed method of assessing student outcomes.

He said the push towards synthetic phonics also tended to be supported by commercial enterprises promoting decodable books.

"There is profit to be made in this particular approach," he said.

"If you take a much broader approach to the teaching of early reading, you actually take it out of the economic sphere."

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham is urging all states to get on board with phonics screening, saying bipartisan support for a recent South Australian trial demonstrates politics can be put aside.

"We hope and trust across Australia schools increasingly embrace an orderly, structured program that puts all of the relevant building blocks in place, including phonics," he said.
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Re: Aus: 'Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:35 am

David Ayer provides a commentary on the reading instruction issue historically to current times via this post (from January 2017):

Taking our Teachers out to the Wood Shed: Phonics is a Kontrived Kontroversy and our Kids are Getting Shafted


https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/taking-o ... david-ayer

But in the 20th Century, institutional resistance effectively marginalized the role of phonics in early reading practice at least twice. Rudolf Flesch successfully debunked its abandonment in the mid-fifties with 'Why Johnny Can't Read,' in reaction to those 'look-and-say' Dick and Jane readers. But by 1975, Education Dept. academics around the English-speaking world had latched onto the hot new 'Whole Word' theory - that the sounding out of letters-in-a-chain could be tossed aside, because armed with pure intentions and more sophisticated, illustration-laden literature, kids could commit the overall shapes of words to memory while using 'meaning cues' to I.D. whole words - yes, rather than going left to right and reading them.


But this ability to sound words out is 'massively generative.' "When a child memorizes ten words, the child can only read ten words, whereas if the child learns the sounds of ten letters, the child will be able to read 350 three-sound words, 4,320 four-sound words and 21,650 five-sound words" (Kozloff, 2002).


Getting queasy yet? But parents of kids who don't immediately take off as readers are regularly told not to worry, as the light bulb is sure to come on, if not this year, then next year or the next. In effect they're told that the best thing to do is cross your fingers - disastrous advice. This shrug of a reaction takes the place of an actual plan that would cast a wide net and could identify all struggling readers by around age 5. Instead, any children who don't pick it up very quickly can still find themselves either placated and allowed to drift, or pressed hard to use ineffective strategies. When you boil this gap down to how it affects those most in need of informed instruction, 'dyslexic' has become the condition that shall not speak its name, and school boards remain unconvinced that their approach needs an overhaul. In a parallel crisis currently playing out in Australia, the national teachers' union is freaking out about the planned implementation of a phonics check for 5-year-olds, heaping invective on those who would question the real experts, the people who work with the children every day. Elsewhere, in Canada's most populous province, parental outrage led school boards to offer extra supports, but only if students were diagnosed with a phantom learning disability. 'Phantom' because as few as 2% of children can't learn to read despite the best interventions - those not learning comprised a much higher proportion: victims of something so widespread there's a name for it: 'dysteachia.'
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Re: Aus: 'Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:04 pm

Rebecca Treiman's article is a follow-up to the analysis of studies by Castles, Rastle and Nation (2108) as featured in this thread:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10. ... 0618772272

What Research Tells Us About Reading Instruction

Rebecca Treiman

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis


Parents, educators, reading researchers, and policy makers all agree that children must learn to read to participate fully in a modern society. They agree, moreover, that much of this learning will take place in school. Beyond this, agreement breaks down. There have been many debates about how children should learn to read; those between proponents of phonics instruction and proponents of whole-language instruction have sometimes been so heated that they have been called the “reading wars.” What can psychological science tell us about the issues? This is the question that Castles, Rastle, and Nation (2018) set out to answer in their article. They provide a wide-ranging review of how reading develops, from beginners to experts, and consider the implications of the research for how reading should be taught.


I was interested to read this comment in Rebecca Treiman's article:

When teaching children about the workings of their writing system, it may be beneficial to place more emphasis on spelling and writing than many current phonics program do. Phonics instruction typically focuses on correspondences from letters to sounds and use of the taught correspondences to pronounce written words. More emphasis on links from sounds to letters and on spelling orally presented words could be helpful, in part because spelling is an important skill in itself and in part because knowing the exact spellings of words helps people to read them (Ouellette, Martin- Chang, & Rossi, 2017).


Thankfully, in England, emphasis in the main phonics programmes is placed on the reversibility of the alphabetic code and the print-to-sound decoding skill for reading, and the sound-to-print encoding skill for spelling. Having said that, England has a statutory national decoding check (the Phonics Screening Check) at the end of Year One but not an equivalent spelling check. Also, from what I have observed in some schools in England, teachers do not always provide a balance of decoding and encoding in their phonics provision - nevertheless, the official guidance urges this.
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Re: Aus: 'Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:56 pm

Professor Rhona Johnston, co-researcher of the Clackmannanshire studies (Johnston and Watson), has responded to the paper by Castles, Rastle and Nation (2018) that is featured on this thread. You can read this full response via the IFERI blog:

Examining the evidence on the effectiveness of synthetic phonics teaching: the Ehri et al (2001) and C.Torgerson et al (2006) meta-analyses by Rhona Johnston, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Hull


http://www.iferi.org/examining-the-evid ... y-univers/



[Please note: Professor Johnston's response is also posted via the UK Reading Reform Foundation blog. This is because in England, the Clackmannanshire studies have been immensely important in alerting parliament and the teaching profession re the efficacy of introducing the letter/s-sound correspondences of the English alphabetic code systematically and, from the outset, providing cumulative words that include the code taught for immediate practice with sounding out and blending - that is, 'synthesising' the sounds uttered to decode new printed words. You can find the response here: http://rrf.org.uk/2018/06/17/examining- ... y-univers/
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Re: Aus: 'Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:10 pm

Here is Alison Clarke's response via her Spelfabet site:

Nobody advocates phonics-only literacy instruction

https://www.spelfabet.com.au/2018/06/no ... struction/

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