I am personally constantly calling for teachers to be able to 'evaluate and compare' literacy programmes (particularly systematic synthetic phonics programmes) and so it is really refreshing for me to find a post which is so sensible and rational in outlining the need for teacher knowledge and professionalism (which includes awareness of research findings and the capacity to evaluate provision) alongside the potential benefits of a quality programme - a 'body of work' to support teaching and learning.
In the interests of transparency, I would add that the SSP programme chosen for the schools in Northern Territory is not a programme I am associated with. It is the points raised by Jocelyn which are so important and with which I completely concur:
The Value of a Quality Program
https://nononsenseeducator.home.blog/20 ... y-program/
...I actually think that a program can be an eminently useful and valuable tool in our schools. The problems arise when we rely on the program to be the answer to our educational issues rather than building our own knowledge and capacity to understand quality research and its implications for our practice. Education sectors do indeed need to build capacity of teachers to understand pedagogy, be data-literate and invest the time to critically evaluate research. When we choose a program based on the ‘good vibes’ of other schools or flashy promotions by publishers, we are missing the opportunity to make a wise decision that will impact significantly on our students. Worse still, we may well be choosing a program that promotes practices that hinder progress or result in long-lasting damage to learning and self-esteem.
Jocelyn summarises (after much specific detail included in her post):
So, what is the value of a quality program? As far as I’m concerned, if a program can help my team deliver high quality reading instruction that results in children becoming skilled and confident readers AND help us all get home to eat dinner with our families on time, then I will gladly embrace it.
I have been accused of 'vested interests' on a number of occasions regarding my promotion of systematic synthetic phonics, and I have despaired when academics and others glibly state that 'teachers don't need a programme' (for their phonics teaching), but knowing how supportive and helpful and effective a good phonics 'body of work' (programme) can be, my response is to suggest that:
1) A school's in-house phonics programme and provision should at least match, or be better than, the various (quality) 'off the shelf' programmes that are readily accessible and varied in cost and nature of their resources (in other words, there are good, varied choices).
2) Should teachers even be expected to create a phonics programme, or body of work, as part of their professional duties - and is that likely to match or be better than purpose-designed programmes by phonics/literacy specialists?
3) Do researchers/academics need to build on research findings to date by investigating specific phonics programmes, their results and their similarities and differences to move the reading debate forwards?
4) Are researchers neglecting what is happening in the classroom using different programmes and practices - in other words, is it possible that 'leading-edge practice' is ahead of the research community? Do we have a current 'practice-to-research' neglect? Now, there's a thought!!!
Finally, a well-designed programme is far better used mainly based on the guidance of the author. It is well-known that a good programme can be very badly, or wrongly used, but this in itself can be highlighted through measuring. One good example of this is when a school uses a programme and results rise, but a change of staff, or a two-stream school which compares the effectiveness of provision in parallel classes, or wash-out of use of the programme begins to show through that measuring.
The International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction strongly advises the use of a phonics check for a quick and simple way of measuring teaching-effectiveness and programme-effectiveness: