'A national intervention in teaching phonics: A case study from England' by Rhona Stainforth

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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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'A national intervention in teaching phonics: A case study from England' by Rhona Stainforth

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Thu Nov 26, 2020 11:39 am

This is a very interesting and important case study of national changes in official guidance and consequences in reading instruction over a 20+ year period:

A national intervention in teaching phonics: A case study in England

Professor Rhona Stainforth


https://iferi.org/wp-content/uploads/20 ... ngland.pdf

Abstract

At the start of the 21st century, literacy teaching in state primary schools was conducted under a framework guided by a National Literacy Strategy, which recommended a model of reading called ‘The Searchlights Model’. Early on it became clear that rises in performance predicted from adoption of this strategy were not happening. This led to a review of the effective teaching of early reading under the chairmanship of Sir Jim Rose (Rose, 2006). Rose recommended that the Simple View of Reading (Gough & Tunmer, 1986) be adopted as a framework. It also rec- ommended that pupils be taught how to read words in the first instance through the adoption of programs of systematic synthetic phonics. A change in government reinforced this policy and added a national program of early assessment of grapheme-phoneme knowledge. These changes uncovered an important issue: namely that there was no national program for ensuring that teachers had the necessary professional subject knowledge to teach phonics effectively. Steps have been taken to mitigate this. The most recent data from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Studies (PIRLS) 2016 study suggests that England is now begin- ning to close the achievement gap, with the pupils in the lowest percentiles making the most improvement.
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Re: 'A national intervention in teaching phonics: A case study from England' by Rhona Stainforth

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sat Nov 28, 2020 10:23 am

This article presents a case study of changes in the literacy education landscape of England, mainly over the last two decades. It charts the progress towards a national approach to teaching systematic synthetic phonics as the first approach for teaching children to read words. This is an intervention for all.

Literacy levels often make headline news, so it is important to take a step back and look at the evidence objectively. Brooks (1997) pointed out that standards in Britain between 1948 and 1996 had been maintained. There had been no significant fall. The achievement levels of the middle to high performing pupils were comparable with the rest of the world. However, there was a con- siderable tail of underachievement that had persisted for decades. The developments reported here are mapped against national performance statistics and levels of attainment achieved by English pupils taking part in international studies. The jurisdiction of interest is specifically England because education is devolved to the individual countries of the United Kingdom.


I was surprised to see the statement below in Rhona's paper because of the findings of Martin Turner:

Brooks (1997) pointed out that standards in Britain between 1948 and 1996 had been maintained. There had been no significant fall.


IFERI committee member, Susan Godsland, has an excellent, heavily referenced site http://www.dyslexics.org.uk where she notes this about Martin Turner's findings of reading standards in England's context:

Reading scores hit the floor in LEAs (Local Education Authorities) that took on the whole language fad with unquestioning enthusiasm; in his 1990 paper, Sponsored Reading Failure, the late Martin Turner wrote that about 25% of pupils arriving at south London comprehensive schools regularly had a reading age below 9 years,10% below 8 years, and approximately 50% of pupils arriving at east London comprehensives had a reading age below 9 years. (Turner p10)''

''So to the other achievements of the 'real books' movement may be added that of creating dyslexia'' (Martin Turner p19)

Turner and Burkard wrote a booklet 'Reading Fever' 1996 which has several pages re. the failure of WL p7->

Open access :) https://www.cps.org.uk/files/reports/or ... gFever.pdf


With regard to the statement that 'standards in Britain between 1948 and 1996 had been maintained, Susan shared this comment with me:

One could say that very poor standards of reading were 'maintained' -See Joyce Morris' research in 1959:

''Dr.Joyce Morris undertook research on 'Reading in the Primary School' (1959), collecting and analysing data from seven-year-olds at a large number of Kent's primary schools. She found that reading standards in Kent at that time, ''...were above the national average. Nevertheless, 19.2 percent of the 3,022 survey seven-year-olds could be classed as ‘non-readers', and a further 26.4 percent had some mastery of reading mechanics but not sufficient for them to be independent readers of simple information and story books.''

And these poor standards deepened, especially in areas of social deprivation (see Turner & Burkard), with the introduction of whole language in the late 70s - '98 when the National Literacy Strategy was introduced.
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: 'A national intervention in teaching phonics: A case study from England' by Rhona Stainforth

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sat Nov 28, 2020 10:42 am

The authors of Reading Fever - Phonics must come first, Tom Burkard and Martin Turner, describe the picture of reading standards (with statistics) linked to the 'whole language' movement:

https://www.cps.org.uk/files/reports/or ... gFever.pdf

To this day, however, we still see 'whole language' type provision in many schools in English-speaking contexts across the world - with some 'phonics' thrown into the mix, but not the level of systematic, explicit, synthetic phonics delivered with rigour and commitment (I prefer to say delivered 'fastidiously and conscientiously'!)
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Re: 'A national intervention in teaching phonics: A case study from England' by Rhona Stainforth

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sat Nov 28, 2020 11:24 am

I cannot recommend Susan Godsland's site highly enough. Susan is my 'go to' person when I'm trying to recall facts, an event, specific research findings, or 'where to find' a paper or information.

Do visit Susan's site. See this topical page for example - with its typical wealth of information:

http://www.dyslexics.org.uk/main_method.htm

Already established as the main method to teach reading throughout England by the 1920s, whole word / look and say used reading scheme books(basal readers. USA) with repetitive text. Children were expected to memorise the words as whole shapes through look-and-say flash cards and the constant repetition of those words in a particular scheme's books. Some ''intelligent guessing'' (The Practical Infant Teacher.1930) was also recommended.

One of the continuing stream of education 'experts', Dr. Russell of California University, produced a book in 1949 that included the following strategies, in order of importance, to aid the recognition of new words:

1. The general pattern, or configuration, of the word.
2. Special characteristics of the appearance of the word.
3. Similarity to known words.
4. Recognition of familiar parts in longer words.
5. The use of picture clues.
6. The use of context clues.
7. Phonetic and structural analysis of the word.

(Flesch p55) These strategies (1-6 are forms of guessing) are identical to those advocated by some reading experts today.

The 'look and say' reading schemes were very dull and repetitive, introducing new words at a very slow rate in order to aid memorisation, but they proved lucrative for the newly emerging educational publishers. Dick and Jane were the main characters in a hugely popular look-say scheme, used to teach children to read from the 1930s through to the 1970s in the United States. The Ladybird Peter and Jane Key Word reading scheme was written by a British educationalist William Murray, and first published in 1964. The Ladybird Key Word books were used in 80% of schools until the 1970s.

During the look-say era, Dr.Joyce Morris undertook research on 'Reading in the Primary School' (1959), collecting and analysing data from seven-year-olds at a large number of Kent's primary schools. She found that reading standards in Kent at that time, ''...were above the national average. Nevertheless, 19.2 percent of the 3,022 survey seven-year-olds could be classed as ‘non-readers', and a further 26.4 percent had some mastery of reading mechanics but not sufficient for them to be independent readers of simple information and story books''

Nearly 40 years later, researchers Masterson, Dixon and Stuart carried out an experiment to see how easy it was for five-year-old beginning readers to remember words by sight from repeated shared reading of the same whole word texts. It turned out to be much harder than they expected: They were 'shocked' to discover that 36 repetitions were not enough to guarantee that children would remember a word. ''When we tested children’s ability to read words they’d experienced more than 20 times in their school reading, on average they could read only one word correctly'' (italics added. Stuart.p26/27 in Lewis/Ellis. Phonics)

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