A glimpse into the situation in Canada - including references to Reading Recovery

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Nancy Young
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A glimpse into the situation in Canada - including references to Reading Recovery

Postby Nancy Young » Mon Dec 14, 2015 12:28 am

I am a Canadian teacher who is honoured to join the conversation(s) on this forum.

At present my teaching practice is focused primarily on educating and providing consulting support (program analysis, coaching, Level B assessment etc.) for teachers and parents in the area of research-based reading and spelling instruction. This organization is going to be a great source for the research-based information (and professional support) that is continually needed to shift the teaching methods. Thank you!

Sadly, the three-cueing method and Reading Recovery are widespread in schools across Canada. I am accumulating as much evidence as I can, to present to teachers. Some teachers are receptive. Others are tough to convince (even when I send them links to the research done by Professor Tunmer and Professor Chapman).

Adding to that, in both Alberta and British Columbia (and likely in other provinces in Canada) thousands of children are also getting help from volunteers being “trained” in three-cueing. Corporations and individuals are donating huge sums, assuming the literacy groups are grounded in the right approach to the teaching of reading. Rocking that boat is tricky too, but needs to happen.

It is so exciting when schools do recognize the need to change, and embrace the research! It is happening!!
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: A glimpse into the situation in Canada

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Jan 18, 2016 12:31 pm

More information regarding the situation in Canada thanks to blogger, Paul Bennett via his blog 'Schoolhouse Consulting':

https://educhatter.wordpress.com/2013/0 ... derground/

Return to the Reading Wars: Why Has the War on Phonics Gone Underground?

by Paul W. Bennett

The Early Reading Wars have essentially gone underground in many Canadian provinces and school districts. Since the appearance of Keith Stanovich’s acclaimed 2000 book, Progress in Understanding Reading, teaching reading by developing ” phonological awareness” and utilizing effective, synthetic phonics has been gaining significant ground among leading literacy researchers and education policy-makers. The term “Whole Language” was now been banished from the vocabulary of most faculty of education Language Arts instructors and curriculum consultants. Yet, more recently, just when it appeared that the Whole Language movement was in full retreat, the warmed-over strategy– retooled as the “balanced approach” —has reared its head, once again, in two provinces, British Columbia and Nova Scotia.


Two respected Canadian literacy researchers, Linda Siegel of the University of British Columbia and Jamie Metsala of Mount Saint Vincent University, have risen to the latest challenge. Both scholars are highly respected Special Education authorities, specializing in addressing student learning disabilities. Given the mounting evidence in support of effective, systematic instruction in phonological awareness and synthetic phonics, they are also troubled by why so many children still struggle in the area of reading.

The latest research report written by Jamie Metsala for the Encyclopedia of Language and Literacy Development (2012-07-25) provides an uncharacteristically blunt assessment.

“Unfortunately, in some school districts and provinces, the reading wars are still alive and well. In documents outlining provincial strategies for providing interventions to young children at risk for reading difficulties, explicit and direct instruction may not be mentioned or supported (e.g., B.C. Ministry of Education, 2010; N.S. Department of Education, 2011), and in practice may be strongly discouraged. This impedes teachers learning about, receiving professional development ion, and having access to research-based intervention programs and strategies.” (pp. 5-6)


This is a very important piece - and is well worth reading in its entirety.

Dr. Linda Siegel is a founding committee member of IFERI and you can read about her experience here:

http://www.iferi.org/cmt-management-tea ... el-canada/
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: A glimspe into the situation in Canada

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Jan 18, 2016 12:40 pm

This extract about the Reading Recovery programme has been taken from Paul Bennett's post, link above. The International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction is particularly concerned by the international entrenchment of Reading Recovery for reading intervention in English-speaking contexts:

Most reading difficulties can, and should, be prevented using research-proven effective classroom instruction and early intervention. Recent research has only buttressed claims that systematic, synthetic phonics strategies produce far better results for more students than the “balanced approach” back-stopped by the short-term Grade 1 intervention known as Reading Recovery.

So you can only imagine Dr. Siegel’s shock, back in June 2010, when the B.C. Department of Education posted, without warning, a draft policy document, Primary Program: A Guide for Teaching 2010, endorsing the “balanced approach” to literacy totally at odds with the research on best practice. She responded with a scorching letter to Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, and, since then, has been campaigning to correct the damage to special needs kids and especially those diagnosed with dyslexia.

The next jolt came from Nova Scotia. In 2010, Education Minister Ramona Jennex raised hopes by cancelling the $7 million province-wide Grade 1 Reading Recovery program and announcing that it would be replaced by a more affordable, comprehensive “home-grown” program covering Grades 1 to 3. Provincial advocates for effective, research-based literacy methods and interventions were skeptical in April 2011 when the Department unveiled the policy framework for Succeeding in Reading.

The Succeeding in Reading policy framework (April 26, 2011) confirmed the fears of Metsala, Halifax Region private tutoring providers, and many Special Education teachers. While Nova Scotia had abandoned Reading Recovery, the “balanced approach” found a new lease on life. The mandated Approach, as stated in the document, was to provide: “focused, developmentally appropriate instruction”; and “immersion in rich oral and text language and literacy experiences.” The only real changes were to identify struggling readers earlier, in Primary Class, to spread literacy instruction over three years, and to provide support in groups of up to 3 students.

A March 6, 2012 session on Succeeding in Reading held at Mount Saint Vincent University, featuring N.S. Provincial Curriculum Consultant Janet Porter, left many in stunned silence. It went over like a lead balloon. Most of the questioners poked holes in the generalized, fuzzy program description and a Frontier College official and two Halifax psychologists, seeing no reference whatsoever to “phonics,” demanded to know why it was missing from the document. Assurances that it was one of a number of possible approaches failed to mollify them or really satisfy anyone in the audience.
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: A glimpse into the situation in Canada

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Jan 18, 2016 12:44 pm

I am cross-referencing this thread with IFERI's thread regarding worries about the efficacy of the Reading Recovery intervention programme and its continued wide-spread use and establishment entrenchment:

2014 Reading Recovery study - can we believe the results?


viewtopic.php?f=2&t=22
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: A glimpse into the situation in Canada

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:56 pm

Another piece by Paul Bennett leading to a heated discussion about Reading Recovery:

Early Reading Instruction - Why Has Reading Recovery Survived?


https://educhatter.wordpress.com/2011/0 ... -survived/

Passionate supporters of Reading Recovery were desperate to save the embattled literacy program for Grade 1 pupils. Many assumed that killing RR meant a further decimation of both literacy programming and special education services. Since the promised alternative was described in only the vaguest terms, they feared the worst. Few educators, let alone the general public, had any inkling that Reading Recovery was a problematic program, according to a mounting number of research studies. Fewer still knew that both its cost and effectiveness had been called into question.

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