Consider the cohort of people who need to be able to read well today, as compared to a hundred or more years ago – it is pretty much everyone. So, our methods to achieve this could begin with simply supplying books, and letting people figure out how the code works. This represents a zero guidance option. Apart from a few extremist whole language dinosaurs this option has been rejected. Some individuals can achieve this outcome – we all know or have heard of people who’ve achieved it. However, it happens that relatively few people can successfully intuit the key to reading with this zero guidance. The second option is to provide minimal guidance – tossing a few cues to beginners who will then bootstrap themselves the rest of the way. This increases the proportion of students who learn to read, but it remains well below the desired universal achievement of reading skill. So, as we increase the explicitness of the instructional approach we begin to have an impact upon those remaining strugglers who haven’t benefitted from the less structured methods. Basically, the better we explain the reading process and supply practice (massed, spaced, supervised, and independent) the more of the population we lead to become skilled readers.
One of the components of explicitness is to provide text that is considerate of the degree of skill/knowledge that a student has reached. There is much evidence that indicates an initial focus on teaching the code reaches more children than do other alternatives. Enhancing the preparedness of children to practise and internalise this code-breaking approach is to match the code demands of text to the student’s current code-breaking skills. That is the aim of decodable text.
See Maureen Pollard’s Teaching and using decodable text at https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/arti ... dable-text
“Collectively the results indicate that decodability is a critical characteristic of early reading text as it increases the likelihood that students will use a decoding strategy and results in immediate benefits, particularly with regard to accuracy” (p.2223).
“Many researchers believe decodable texts play a critical role in the development of word recognition skills because they provide students with opportunities to practice and apply decoding skills (NICHHD, 2000; Snow et al., 1998). When students read decodable texts they can more readily apply their knowledge of letters and sounds, making it more likely that they will process all of the letters within words and develop fully specified orthographic representations of words. Recognizing words in this way allows the reader to focus mental energy on comprehension rather than word recognition”.
Cheatham, J.P., & Allor, J.H. (2012). The influence of decodability in early reading text on reading achievement: A review of the evidence. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 25(9), 2223-2246.
“Explicit phonics instruction and reading practice with decodable text can be a prerequisite to successful comprehension for beginning readers” (p.191)
Beverly, B.L., Giles, R.M., & Buck, K.L. (2009). First-grade reading gains following enrichment: Phonics plus decodable texts compared to authentic literature read-aloud. Reading Improvement; 46(4), 191-205.
"Research asserts that most children benefit from direct instruction in decoding, complemented by practice with simply written decodable stories. Further, for some children this sort of systematic approach is critical. Stories should 'fit' the child's reading level. Beginning readers should be able to read easily 90 percent or more of the words in a story.”
Federal Academics 2000 (Public Law 103-227), "First Things First"
“Using the instructional consistency model, California and Texas established 75-80% as a minimum for text to be identified as "decodable" (Foorman et al., 2004). Historically analyses of the instructional consistency in decodable texts has ranged but rarely dipped below about 60% or reached as high as 90% (Beck & Block, 1979; Hoffman et al., 2003; Jenkins et al., 2004; Reutzel & Daines, 1987). Two recent analyses of Year 2000 Basal Packages, many of which responded to the state "decodability" policies, indicated that today's decodable texts ranged from 37-79% decodable (Foorman et al., 2004; Stein, Johnson, & Gutlohn; 1999)” (p.23).
Mesmer, H.A.E. (2010). Textual scaffolds for developing fluency in beginning readers: Accuracy and reading rate in qualitatively leveled and decodable text. Literacy Research and Instruction, 49(1), 20-39.
“The results obtained with these 394 children at the end of their first school year reveal for the first time that, of all the factors that can affect reading comprehension (e.g. spoken language characteristics, attention span, memorization capacity, etc., adding up to 100%), decoding ability accounted for 34%, oral comprehension 8.9% and vocabulary 4.5%. These figures are significant, showing the importance of these three skills for children to understand what they read.”
CNRS (2013, November 22). Decoding, oral comprehension, vocabulary: Three key literacy skills for primary schools in priority areas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 103658.htm
“The question about decodable text, then, is whether or not we should give children texts matched to their correspondence knowledge. If children have no available correspondences, no text is decodable for them. They do have the alternative of predictable texts, which are fun to read and excellent instructional texts for teaching print concepts and meaning vocabulary. Shared reading (i.e., cued recitation) with predictable texts may provide opportunities to teach common function words by rote, supplying necessary words for reading any text. However, cued recitation does not provide the spelling analysis of decoding, and therefore we cannot expect children to learn the identities of the words in predictable texts. For children who have learned some correspondences, restricting the vocabulary of texts to words they can decode has great benefits. With decodable texts, the strategy of identifying words by sounding out and blending works better than available alternatives (guessing from phonetic cues, text memorization, using illustrations, memorizing spellings by rote, etc.). Because decoding works, children will rely on a decoding strategy. Decoding makes learning sight words roughly nine times easier than rote memorization; children can learn about nine sight words by decoding with the same effort it takes to learn a single word by rote (Gates, 1931; Reitsma, 1983).
Juel and Roper/Schneider (1985) provided some evidence that using decodable text induces a decoding strategy. They found that children who had only been taught short-vowel correspondences but who had worked in decodable text were able to use long-vowel correspondences in decoding unfamiliar words. Juel and Roper/Schneider surmised that the type of words in texts may be as powerful as the method of instruction. Phonics without decodable text is isolated--it works only with words, not with stories. If phonics works to decode text, phonics is integrated. Beginning readers appreciate and remember correspondences because they work in constructing the meaning of texts; e.g., when they learn the oa correspondence, they can read the next story, "The Boat Made of Soap." This in turn motivates the extensive and difficult work of phonics.
Teachers are also willing to invest more effort in explicit phonics instruction when learning a new correspondence enables children to read stories successfully. Their children’s success motivates their teaching efforts. Well-crafted phonics instruction provides children with the tools they need to identify the words and construct the meaning of stories, but only if children read carefully matched decodable texts … Because decoding works, children will rely on a decoding strategy. Decoding makes learning sight words roughly nine times easier than rote memorization; children can learn about nine sight words by decoding with the same effort it takes to learn a single word by rote (Gates, 1931; Reitsma, 1983)”.
B. Murray, B. (no date). Using decodable text. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/%7Emurraba/decodable.html