This is an excellent post, amongst many other excellent posts, by the author of TheReadingApe blog. But what I don't understand, and I've said so via Twitter, is why the author of the blog does not signpost the information flagged up by the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction, for example, this particular thread featuring worries raised about the Reading Recovery programme featured at the end of this post here:
https://www.thereadingape.com/single-po ... t-wont-die
The very peculiar case of Goodman, Smith and Clay (or why the whole language approach just wont die).
April 27, 2020
Marie Clay’s Reading Recovery (1995) programme is perhaps the most remarkable evidence of the indestructability of the whole language approach to reading. Clay (1991) popularised the whole language approach in New Zealand along with Smith and Elley who maintained that, ‘children learn to read themselves; direct teaching plays only a minor role…’ (1995, p87) as learning to read was akin to learning to speak. This resulted in 20% of all six-year-olds in New Zealand making little or no progress in toward gaining independence in reading in their first year of schooling (Chapman, Turner and Prochnow, 2001). The solution was Clay’s Reading Recovery programme: the same approach that had failed the same children in their first year of teaching. It seemed the ultimate insult to these struggling readers and should have been the final nail in the whole language coffin. But this reading instruction Rasputin refused to die and clung to life with a remarkable feat of resurrection.
Reading recovery worked.
Studies showed that not only is it beneficial, it is cost effective too (May et al, 2015) and is recognised as good practice by the Early Intervention Foundation, European Literacy Policy Network, Institute for Effective Education and What Works Clearinghouse as well as being advocated by London University’s UCL. A recent US study (Sirindes et. al, 2018) reaffirmed these assertions which were backed on social media by education heavyweight Dylan Wiliam (2018).
How can a whole language model of reading instruction defy the avalanche of research that undermines the efficacy of the approach? How can it work when the eyes and brain cannot process the contextual adjustment involved in psycholinguistic guessing fast enough for it facilitate efficient reading (https://www.thereadingape.com/single-po ... ple-cueing
The answer lies partly in the model and partly in the research. The programme constitutes twenty weeks of daily, thirty-minute one-to-one sessions with a trained practitioner. Fifty hours of one-to-one reading, however poor the instruction, will result in some improvements for most readers. This may be the result of improved guessing strategies, greater numbers of words recognised by shape and far greater opportunities for the child to start to crack the alphabetic code by themselves as well as any phonics instruction the child is receiving outside of the programme. Furthermore, the research is not nearly as positive as it at first appears. Tumner and Chapman (2016) questioned the research design of May et al (2015) as a result of the lowest performing students being excluded from the study. They concluded that the successful completion rate of students was modest and that there was no evidence that reading recovery leads to sustained literacy gains. More damning, however, is their highlighting of the range of experiences and interventions that the control group were exposed to. This cuts to the kernel of the traction maintained by Reading Recovery: until it is tested directly against an efficient systematic phonics programme it will continue to indicate modest improvements in reading for its participants. Reading Recovery versus fifty hours of extra one-to-one linguistic phonics instruction: no contest.
When the study is finally commissioned and completed, expect some very red faces in the world of education academia – not least at UCL.
And I would go further than suggesting the academics at UCL would be red-faced if ever any researchers ever do get round to researching the efficacy of Reading Recovery as an intervention compared to high-quality phonics provision, there should be other red faces too.
It is surely encumbent on the government in England to hold UCL to account for its promotion of Reading Recovery which is in direct contradiction to the official guidance, informed by a body of international research findings and leading-edge phonics practice, now embodied in the National Curriculum for reading instruction and upheld by the Ofsted (schools' inspectorate) Framework 2019 - and 'Teaching Standards' (guidance for teacher-training).
And why is the Education Endowment Foundation not pursuing this line of research in England considering developments in England to date?