We are very lucky in England to have been supported by various champions (including many unsung or forgotten heroes) with educational and/or political authority. The UK Reading Reform Foundation, amongst others, criticised and challenged the 'Searchlights' multi-cueing word-guessing strategies officially promoted in the National Literacy Strategy way back in 1998. After much protracted HARD WORK to draw attention to the flawed guidance in the National Literacy Strategy - calling upon both research evidence and leading-edge practices within schools - eventually there were parliamentary inquiries into the best way to teach beginning reading, followed by the commissioning of an independent, national review led by Sir Jim Rose (Sir Jim's report is world-renowned. Sir Jim is a founding committee member of IFERI).
You can find links to the inquiries and final reports here (2005, 2006):https://iferi.org/evidence/
The 1998 National Literacy Strategy in England actually embedded flawed practices (the 'Searchlight' reading strategies and the promotion of the book banded reading scheme books based on the flawed Reading Recovery intervention programme). An example of multi-cueing guesswork practice is described in Dr Moats' article. She gives the following description of guidance to teachers which illustrates inadvisable reading strategies that are still embedded in many schools and in many reading programmes (even in England) - causing reading habits which are inevitable, even if by default, when learners are given reading material to read INDEPENDENTLY that they cannot get through without lots of guessing of unknown words.
Dr Moats writes:
Yet this ill-conceived contextual guessing approach to word recognition is enshrined in materials and handbooks used by teachers who are teaching Guided Reading, Balanced Literacy, and other literature-based approaches.
The most recent advisory from the Institute of Education Sciences (Foorman et al., 2016) addressed the issue of teaching guessing strategies with this statement: "The panel discourages teachers from allowing students to use guessing strategies to identify unfamiliar words, because these will not be effective with more advanced texts. For example, discourage students from guessing unknown words using beginning letters or pictures. The panel also cautions against giving hints that encourage students to guess a word as if answering a riddle (e.g., 'What do you call the place where you live?' if students cannot make sense of the letter h-o-m-e)." Nevertheless, this practice is deeply embedded in our classrooms.
Back to England: The various parliamentary and official inquiries into teaching reading and subsequent embedding of the systematic synthetic phonics teaching principles in the statutory National Curriculum (2014) is underpinned with official guidance on how schools can evaluate a systematic synthetic phonics programme be the publication of a document describing the 'Core Criteria', see here (very short and easy to read):https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... rocess.pdf
Please pay particular attention to Note 7. of the Core Criteria
7. It is important that texts are of the appropriate level for children to apply and practise the phonic knowledge and skills that they have learnt. Children should not be expected to use strategies such as whole-word recognition and/or cues from context, grammar, or pictures.
Dr Moats refers to the dangers of reading material and practices that do not match learners' alphabetic code knowledge:
The problem is "Leveled" Books
Most striking in our classrooms is the popularity of "leveled" book libraries that are often the main tool for teaching students how to read. Leveled texts originated in New Zealand to accompany Reading Recovery lessons (Clay, 1991). They are the centrepiece of Guided Reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 1999). Leveled texts are assigned a rank (level) on a difficulty scale, such as A-Z, according to four major characteristics judged by a panel of experts: a) book and print features; b) content, themes, and ideas; c) text structure; and d) language and literary elements. These judgements are subjective, because readability formulas that calculate sentence length and word frequency cannot be meaningfully applied to texts.
Several studies have shown that primary grade students in the bottom 40% of reading skill often cannot read these leveled texts because they have not acquired the requisite phonics decoding skills (Cunningham et al., 2005; Foorman, Francis, Davidson, Harm & Griffin, 2004; Hoffman, Roser, Patterson, Salas, & Pennington, 2001). The leveled texts do not control for phonics patterns and do not follow a scope and sequence of decoding skill instruction, so there are few opportunities for students to apply and solidify phonics skills through cumulative practice.........when leveled texts are used for instruction, students must rely on (and often encouraged to rely on) memorisation, pictures and guesswork to read.
IFERI provides a leaflet about this issue:http://www.iferi.org/wp-content/uploads ... oned-1.pdf
And the UK Reading Reform Foundation blog includes this issue:https://rrf.org.uk/2017/03/28/an-altern ... r-readers/
In Dr Moats' third paragraph, she notes that intervention [RTI = Response To Intervention] may not be in line with research-informed classroom practices:
As originally conceived, RTI depends first and foremost on effective classroom teaching so that fewer students need small group or intensive remediation. Successful RTI approaches also require alignment and compatibility among the "tiers" of service so that classroom teaching is supported and reinforced in supplemental small groups (Tier 2). Intensive remediation (Tier 3), necessary for students with the most severe reading difficulties, should be coordinated with regular classroom materials, strategies, and content. Otherwise, students may be caught between conflicting approaches or may simply not experience the comprehensive instruction, reinforcement, or consistency that will help them.
Sir Jim Rose also noted that intervention practices should be in line with the evidence-informed mainstream classroom practices, so let's take a look at England's context to see if that is actually happening:
Back in 2009, in England, the Science and Technology select committee held a parliamentary inquiry into the, then, government's promotion and funding of early intervention - and of the Reading Recovery
programme in particular under the 'Every Child a Reader
' initiative funded by the government. The conclusions were very clear that the government was right to promote 'early intervention' but not right
to promote the Reading Recovery
programme which was identified as 'whole language' and in contravention of the recommendations of Sir Jim Rose of adoption of the Simple View of Reading model of understanding the two main processes involved in being a reader in the full sense - to replace the National Literacy Strategy's 'Searchlights' multi-cueing word-guessing model.
Now, here is the real and devastating twist of irony: Sir Jim Rose's Final Report
and acceptance of its recommendations by the government was in 2006 - the very same year that Reading Recovery
and the Every Child a Reader
initiative were rolled out. And Reading Recovery, to this day, is part and parcel of the Institute of Education (teacher-training university) in London. How can this be and what are the effects?
A number of years ago, I wrote about the 2009 Science and Technology select committee conclusions to summarise them here:https://phonicsinternational.com/forum/ ... .php?t=586
So, what happened as a consequence of the conclusions of the select committee? And what is the state of play regarding Reading Recovery in England to this day?
First of all, I want to make the general point (which I do over and again) that teachers have always received, and continued to receive, VERY MIXED MESSAGES AND CONTRADICTORY TRAINING AND GUIDANCE with regard to how to teach reading and how to provide intervention for struggling learners.
Secondly, in some local authorities in England, and therefore in some schools, Reading Recovery
is STILL alive and kicking - and the dominant teacher-training. Really!!!!!
Thirdly, I am not aware of any political officials in England (politicians and inspectors) BITING THE BULLET, writing about, and taking any responsibility for this scenario.
Fourthly, although the researchED organisation is enormously popular and has taken off in several countries AROUND THE WORLD, I am not aware of any of organisers actually doing anything practical to HOLD TO ACCOUNT those educational and political officials promoting, or allowing, or TURNING A BLIND EYE, to the multi-cueing word-guessing programmes and provision that continue to prevail in training and to be practised in schools -whether for mainstream and/or intervention. Sure, many renowned speakers are invited to speak at the amazing researchED events - in the dozens - BUT THEN WHAT?
Fifthly, out of the countries of the United Kingdom, how can it be that it is ONLY IN ENGLAND that we have had an influential political process to embed research-informed teacher-guidance and training? What about teachers and children in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? IFERI followers may know about the work of IFERI committee member Anne Glennie, supported by IFERI committee member Gordon Askew, urging the guarantee of teachers in Scotland to receive research-informed reading instruction. You can read about Anne's petition and see a recording of Anne, Gordon and researcher Sarah McGeown giving evidence here:viewtopic.php?f=2&t=911