Aus, NSW: 'Phonics check to be compulsory as minister declares reading wars won'

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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Aus, NSW: 'Phonics check to be compulsory as minister declares reading wars won'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Nov 30, 2020 12:09 am

Here is more fantastic, positive news in The Sydney Morning Herald about further adoption of a phonics check in Australia:

Phonics check to be compulsory as minister declares reading wars won

by Jordan Baker



https://www.smh.com.au/national/phonics ... MdA-i8yCUo

The controversial year 1 phonics screening check will be compulsory in NSW public schools from next year after the state's Education Minister declared the reading wars were over and phonics had won.

Sarah Mitchell also took aim at sceptics of a phonics-focused approach to teaching reading within university education faculties, telling university bosses that putting them in charge of aspiring primary teachers was like allowing anti-vaxxers to teach medical students.

“It is a crying shame that parts of the education community are so blinded by ideology they cannot bring themselves to accept the evidence in favour of phonics sitting right in front of them,” she wrote in an opinion piece for the Herald.

Results from this year's trial of the screening check, in which students read a list of words so their teacher can assess how well they know their letter-sound combinations, found 57 per cent of the children did not meet the expected achievement level.


This is a MUST read - important for the international debate, not just Australia.

Congratulations to all the pioneers in Australia who have worked so hard as individuals and collectively to make major changes in Australia. This aspiration is not yet realised, but this latest development is a big step in the right direction!
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Re: Aus: 'Phonics check to be compulsory as minister declares reading wars won'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Nov 30, 2020 12:17 am

In response to the circulating of the article above via Twitter, the pioneering of Jennifer Buckingham is being acknowledged:


So proud of Jen Buckingham for years of research, writing, informing government and the press on the science of reading that has resulted in this action by the NSW Minister. It has taken incredible tenacity and a very thick skin, well done!
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Re: Aus: 'Phonics check to be compulsory as minister declares reading wars won'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Nov 30, 2020 9:57 pm

Very popular teacher-blogger, Greg Ashman, writes about the latest developments in Australia via his 'Filling the pail' blog:

Latest dispatches from the reading wars


https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2020/1 ... ding-wars/

Perhaps Chall’s 1967 book should have ended the reading wars and saved Sarah Mitchell the bother of doing it 53 years later, but it did not fit with my reading of Chall that she thought ‘both sides were right’. So, I grabbed my copy of Chall’s excellent 2000 book, The Academic Achievement Challenge. In this book, Chall writes:

“Several syntheses of the research comparing the effectiveness, for learning to read, of a meaning (whole language) versus a code emphasis (phonics)… found, in general, that classic approaches to beginning reading instruction (e.g. direct, systematic instruction in phonics – a code emphasis) were more effective than the various innovative approaches with which they were compared (e.g., a meaning emphasis, non phonics, incidental phonics, phonics only as needed, or a whole-language approach). The classic approaches were found to result in higher achievement in both word recognition and reading comprehension. They were more effective for different kinds of children and particularly for children at risk – those from low-income families, those of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, bilingual children, and those with learning disabilities.”

That reads to me as if Chall had a firm view of which side was right and it is a timely reminder of why systematic phonics programmes are an equity issue.


Will this reading debate ever end? It certainly is an equity issue and it remains 'chance' as to the training teachers receive and the approach to reading and spelling taken for foundational literacy in schools across the world.
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Re: Aus: 'Phonics check to be compulsory as minister declares reading wars won'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Thu Dec 03, 2020 10:52 am

Thanks to IFERI committee member Yvonne Meyer for alerting us to this article:

REBECCA URBAN, THE AUSTRALIAN, DECEMBER 2, 2020


Attitudes towards the role of phonics in teaching reading is shifting in NSW, with almost two-thirds of teachers who received evidence-based literacy training subsequently committing to changing their methods.

Evaluation of a statewide training blitz has revealed a significant lift in teachers’ awareness of the importance of explicit and systematic teaching for developing children’s phonics skills — an essential component of learning to read — as well as confidence in their abilities to teach effectively.

The study, however, also confirmed that many ideas stemming from the whole-language philosophy of reading instruction persist­ throughout the profession, with a quarter of teachers expressing a view that English cannot be taught effectively using phonics.

NSW this week became the second state after South Australia to introduce compulsory phonics screening for Year 1 students, and will also ensure phonics becomes a key component of early reading instruction from next year.

The move follows a push by the state’s Education Department to promote more effective reading instruction, specifically the use of synthetic phonics. Evidence has shown the method, which involves­ teaching students to pronounce­ the sounds associated with letters in isolation, and combine these sounds to form words, to be the most effective way of teaching children to read.

Two-day courses in effective reading instruction, with a focus on synthetic phonics, were held in 2018, with 2288 staff from 1089 NSW public primary schools ­attending. Participants were surveyed before and after the course and again nine months later.

Prior to the course, 54 per cent of teachers agreed that effective phonics instruction involved teach­ing speech sounds and the corresponding letters in isolation. That rose to 76 per cent after the course.

Those who understood reading to be the “mechanical skill of decoding”, or translating printed symbols into sounds, jumped from 44 per cent before the course to 62 per cent after the course.

Following the course, 63 per cent of participants said they would change their teaching to include­ a greater focus on phonics, while 70 per cent said they planned to switch to using decodable texts in the classrooms.

However, the surveys also showed that the training did not substantially alter the views of participants who believed that meaning cues, rather than phonics knowledge, should be emphasised during children’s early experiences with reading.

The proportion of teachers who expressed the view that the English language was “too unpredictable for phonics to work well” was unchanged nine months after training, at 26 per cent.

According to the final evaluation report into the program, “the concepts underlying these beliefs appear to be based on a whole-language approach to teaching”.

“The whole-language approach (which introduces stud­ents to language through context) was used as the main model for teaching reading in Australia for several decades,” the report says.

“From a psychological perspective, once beliefs have been formed, they can be very resistant to change. Specifically, research shows that initially-held beliefs often persevere even in the face of evidence that contradicts them.”

The report recommended that “more intensive work” be carried out to change some “deeply entrenched­” beliefs linked to whole-language instruction.

Jennifer Buckingham, a research­ and strategy director at literacy instruction provider MultiLit, said educating teachers would be an ongoing process. “The complexity of the English writing system makes it even more important to teach phonics systematically,” Dr Buckingham said.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation ... 89f5231005
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Re: Aus, NSW: 'Phonics check to be compulsory as minister declares reading wars won'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:09 pm

Here is a follow-on piece about the reading wars in The Sydney Morning Herald:

We can't let our children be victims of reading wars any longer


https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/we- ... 56jgi.html

When NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell wrote about the reading wars in The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, critics took aim at her combative terminology. They argued the "war" was a media creation and that no-one questioned the importance of phonics in teaching early reading.

To blame the media is disingenuous. The teaching of reading is one of the most fiery debates in education and the Herald’s stories on the issue always prompt impassioned responses from both sides of the argument. There’s nothing new about the reading wars; they have waged for centuries between those who believe in the primacy of phonics – the use of sound-letter combinations to enable students to decode words – and those who advocate a whole language approach, which is based on the belief that reading involves recognising an entire word rather than sounding out fragments of it.

The whole language method has been discredited – after all, no-one can reasonably expect a child to memorise the tens of thousands of words necessary to be a functional reader – but has morphed into what is known as balanced literacy. That approach argues that phonics is just one among a suite of strategies in a teacher’s toolkit. Others include using context – "if we are reading about animals, and this word starts with d, what do you think it might be?” – and looking at pictures to help children work out a word.


Do read the whole piece - it's not long.
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Re: Aus, NSW: 'Phonics check to be compulsory as minister declares reading wars won'

Postby Geoff Vaughan » Mon Dec 07, 2020 5:47 pm

Isn't it fascinating how there needs to be so much convincing to be done to move away from the balanced literacy approach. For me, it seems like the most common barrier or disagreement to systematic synthetic phonics provision is that there is so much more to reading. Who ever said there was not? But getting to second base, you have to be able to get to first base!
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Re: Aus, NSW: 'Phonics check to be compulsory as minister declares reading wars won'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Wed Dec 09, 2020 11:27 am

Well said, Geoff!

And thanks to Professor Max Coltheart who heads up the DDOLL network for alerting us to this short Sky News interview with the amazing pioneer Jennifer Buckingham. It is wonderful to see and hear Jen - a lady who is without doubt at the leading edge of moving the reading debate along signifcantly in Australia, please do watch this:

New South Wales to implement phonics screening check for Year 1 students


https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_621 ... B9C7Gf87v4


Information about the international DDOLL network and how you can join:

Developmental Disorders of Language and Literacy Network


http://www.cogsci.mq.edu.au/ddoll/
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Re: Aus, NSW: 'Phonics check to be compulsory as minister declares reading wars won'

Postby Geoff Vaughan » Thu Dec 10, 2020 4:58 pm

You reference two extremely significant figures in Australian and international advocacy for improving literacy. It is a great news interview by Jennifer.

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