Outstanding article: 'Can Prevailing Approaches to Reading Instruction Accomplish the Goals of RTI?' Louisa Moats

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Outstanding article: 'Can Prevailing Approaches to Reading Instruction Accomplish the Goals of RTI?' Louisa Moats

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:18 pm

This article is relevant world-wide.

Thank you to the Reading League in America for flagging up this outstanding piece by Dr Louisa Moats. We are highly privileged that Louisa is a member of the Advisory Group of the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction. Read this article and indicated by its calibre, you will know why Louisa was invited to join IFERI for the spread of research-informed practices:

https://mydigitalpublication.com/public ... ver=html5#{"issue_id":425075,"view":"articleBrowser","article_id":"2836403"}

I am going to give away the last paragraph of Dr Moats' piece because, for me, this cuts to the chase of the issue of moving reading instruction to evidence-informed practice. We have an ongoing battle. It is not realistic when those who write definitive conclusions suggesting that their piece 'ends' the reading wars. Are they kidding? There is still far too much ground-work to be done!

The heart of the issue:

It is going to take many more years, and more people speaking up when they see, and experience, the promotion and practices of flawed teaching and teacher-training. People MUST speak up and, very often, this takes a great deal of courage AND VERY HARD WORK!

The final paragraph of Dr Moats' article:

Finally, we must take every opportunity to change a culture in education that promotes dissemination of half-baked theories, fads, opinions, and unsupported practices that jeopardise student learning. When you see something that does not align with reading science, say something. As long as we tolerate misinformation and mediocrity, our children pay the price.

You see, we have both the science and leading-edge practice to inform teacher-trainers and teachers about the best, and essential, features of bringing about 'literacy' for every learner. Dr Louisa Moats' encapsulates this content within her article as it includes both specific descriptions of important provision and flawed practice - complete with references.

That leaves the issue of further spread, provision and embedding of research-informed content - but also the issue of ACCOUNTABILITY for continuation of flawed and potentially damaging practices of reading instruction that are still widespread.

Where do we see this?

Let's take England as a good example of the continued challenge to research-informed reading instruction, see my next post...
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Re: Outstanding article: 'Can Prevailing Approaches to Reading Instruction Accomplish the Goals of RTI?' Louisa Moats

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:44 pm


We are very lucky in England to have been supported by various champions (including many unsung or forgotten heroes) with educational and/or political authority. The UK Reading Reform Foundation, amongst others, criticised and challenged the 'Searchlights' multi-cueing word-guessing strategies officially promoted in the National Literacy Strategy way back in 1998. After much protracted HARD WORK to draw attention to the flawed guidance in the National Literacy Strategy - calling upon both research evidence and leading-edge practices within schools - eventually there were parliamentary inquiries into the best way to teach beginning reading, followed by the commissioning of an independent, national review led by Sir Jim Rose (Sir Jim's report is world-renowned. Sir Jim is a founding committee member of IFERI).

You can find links to the inquiries and final reports here (2005, 2006):


The 1998 National Literacy Strategy in England actually embedded flawed practices (the 'Searchlight' reading strategies and the promotion of the book banded reading scheme books based on the flawed Reading Recovery intervention programme). An example of multi-cueing guesswork practice is described in Dr Moats' article. She gives the following description of guidance to teachers which illustrates inadvisable reading strategies that are still embedded in many schools and in many reading programmes (even in England) - causing reading habits which are inevitable, even if by default, when learners are given reading material to read INDEPENDENTLY that they cannot get through without lots of guessing of unknown words.

Dr Moats writes:

Yet this ill-conceived contextual guessing approach to word recognition is enshrined in materials and handbooks used by teachers who are teaching Guided Reading, Balanced Literacy, and other literature-based approaches.

The most recent advisory from the Institute of Education Sciences (Foorman et al., 2016) addressed the issue of teaching guessing strategies with this statement: "The panel discourages teachers from allowing students to use guessing strategies to identify unfamiliar words, because these will not be effective with more advanced texts. For example, discourage students from guessing unknown words using beginning letters or pictures. The panel also cautions against giving hints that encourage students to guess a word as if answering a riddle (e.g., 'What do you call the place where you live?' if students cannot make sense of the letter h-o-m-e)." Nevertheless, this practice is deeply embedded in our classrooms.

Back to England: The various parliamentary and official inquiries into teaching reading and subsequent embedding of the systematic synthetic phonics teaching principles in the statutory National Curriculum (2014) is underpinned with official guidance on how schools can evaluate a systematic synthetic phonics programme be the publication of a document describing the 'Core Criteria', see here (very short and easy to read):

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... rocess.pdf

Please pay particular attention to Note 7. of the Core Criteria:

7. It is important that texts are of the appropriate level for children to apply and practise the phonic knowledge and skills that they have learnt. Children should not be expected to use strategies such as whole-word recognition and/or cues from context, grammar, or pictures.

Dr Moats refers to the dangers of reading material and practices that do not match learners' alphabetic code knowledge:

The problem is "Leveled" Books

Most striking in our classrooms is the popularity of "leveled" book libraries that are often the main tool for teaching students how to read. Leveled texts originated in New Zealand to accompany Reading Recovery lessons (Clay, 1991). They are the centrepiece of Guided Reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 1999). Leveled texts are assigned a rank (level) on a difficulty scale, such as A-Z, according to four major characteristics judged by a panel of experts: a) book and print features; b) content, themes, and ideas; c) text structure; and d) language and literary elements. These judgements are subjective, because readability formulas that calculate sentence length and word frequency cannot be meaningfully applied to texts.

Several studies have shown that primary grade students in the bottom 40% of reading skill often cannot read these leveled texts because they have not acquired the requisite phonics decoding skills (Cunningham et al., 2005; Foorman, Francis, Davidson, Harm & Griffin, 2004; Hoffman, Roser, Patterson, Salas, & Pennington, 2001). The leveled texts do not control for phonics patterns and do not follow a scope and sequence of decoding skill instruction, so there are few opportunities for students to apply and solidify phonics skills through cumulative practice.........when leveled texts are used for instruction, students must rely on (and often encouraged to rely on) memorisation, pictures and guesswork to read.

IFERI provides a leaflet about this issue:

http://www.iferi.org/wp-content/uploads ... oned-1.pdf

And the UK Reading Reform Foundation blog includes this issue:

https://rrf.org.uk/2017/03/28/an-altern ... r-readers/

In Dr Moats' third paragraph, she notes that intervention [RTI = Response To Intervention] may not be in line with research-informed classroom practices:

As originally conceived, RTI depends first and foremost on effective classroom teaching so that fewer students need small group or intensive remediation. Successful RTI approaches also require alignment and compatibility among the "tiers" of service so that classroom teaching is supported and reinforced in supplemental small groups (Tier 2). Intensive remediation (Tier 3), necessary for students with the most severe reading difficulties, should be coordinated with regular classroom materials, strategies, and content. Otherwise, students may be caught between conflicting approaches or may simply not experience the comprehensive instruction, reinforcement, or consistency that will help them.

Sir Jim Rose also noted that intervention practices should be in line with the evidence-informed mainstream classroom practices, so let's take a look at England's context to see if that is actually happening:

Back in 2009, in England, the Science and Technology select committee held a parliamentary inquiry into the, then, government's promotion and funding of early intervention - and of the Reading Recovery programme in particular under the 'Every Child a Reader' initiative funded by the government. The conclusions were very clear that the government was right to promote 'early intervention' but not right to promote the Reading Recovery programme which was identified as 'whole language' and in contravention of the recommendations of Sir Jim Rose of adoption of the Simple View of Reading model of understanding the two main processes involved in being a reader in the full sense - to replace the National Literacy Strategy's 'Searchlights' multi-cueing word-guessing model.

Now, here is the real and devastating twist of irony: Sir Jim Rose's Final Report and acceptance of its recommendations by the government was in 2006 - the very same year that Reading Recovery and the Every Child a Reader initiative were rolled out. And Reading Recovery, to this day, is part and parcel of the Institute of Education (teacher-training university) in London.

How can this be and what are the effects?

A number of years ago, I wrote about the 2009 Science and Technology select committee conclusions to summarise them here:

https://phonicsinternational.com/forum/ ... .php?t=586

So, what happened as a consequence of the conclusions of the select committee? And what is the state of play regarding Reading Recovery in England to this day?

First of all, I want to make the general point (which I do over and again) that teachers have always received, and continued to receive, VERY MIXED MESSAGES AND CONTRADICTORY TRAINING AND GUIDANCE with regard to how to teach reading and how to provide intervention for struggling learners.

Secondly, in some local authorities in England, and therefore in some schools, Reading Recovery is STILL alive and kicking - and the dominant teacher-training. Really!!!!!

Thirdly, I am not aware of any political officials in England (politicians and inspectors) BITING THE BULLET, writing about, and taking any responsibility for this scenario.

Fourthly, although the researchED organisation is enormously popular and has taken off in several countries AROUND THE WORLD, I am not aware of any of organisers actually doing anything practical to HOLD TO ACCOUNT those educational and political officials promoting, or allowing, or TURNING A BLIND EYE, to the multi-cueing word-guessing programmes and provision that continue to prevail in training and to be practised in schools -whether for mainstream and/or intervention. Sure, many renowned speakers are invited to speak at the amazing researchED events - in the dozens - BUT THEN WHAT?

Fifthly, out of the countries of the United Kingdom, how can it be that it is ONLY IN ENGLAND that we have had an influential political process to embed research-informed teacher-guidance and training? What about teachers and children in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? IFERI followers may know about the work of IFERI committee member Anne Glennie, supported by IFERI committee member Gordon Askew, urging the guarantee of teachers in Scotland to receive research-informed reading instruction. You can read about Anne's petition and see a recording of Anne, Gordon and researcher Sarah McGeown giving evidence here:

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Re: Outstanding article: 'Can Prevailing Approaches to Reading Instruction Accomplish the Goals of RTI?' Louisa Moats

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:10 pm

Evidence that Reading Recovery prevails in at least some regions in England:

I have been personally approached by a number of people - parents, teachers, tutors, dyslexia organisations - regarding their worries of the continuation of teacher-training promoting multi-cueing word-guessing strategies in one programme or another - whether for mainstream or intervention provision.

I've written about this Reading Debate for many years - but recently I was utterly dismayed to hear about local authority advisors continuing to promote Reading Recovery as the main recommended training - and the continuation of book banded type books for mainstream and intervention. This is the training that was flagged up to me as being widely promoted:


I suggest that it is time for another parliamentary inquiry in England - and England's inspectorate being involved in this issue of teachers being given contradictory guidance and professional development.

If we haven't got it right yet in England despite some incredible official research-informed advances in statutory guidance in England, what chance do other countries have where English is taught for reading and writing?

How can it be that Reading Recovery still exists and prevails?

What is the point of having some teachers and teacher-trainers following official guidance based on research and leading-edge programmes and practices if others don't?

What is the point of having inquiries drawing evidence-informed conclusions such as the 2009 Science and Technology select committee inquiry - if nothing seems to happen after that?

How can it be that, in Australia, it is mainly the parents involved in the Dyslexia Organisations that are having to do most of the challenging to children's reading instruction provision (to be fair, alongside some researchers and teachers - often those involved most closely with 'intervention')?

There is evidence a-plenty that the training that teachers receive, and what children receive for reading and spelling instruction in their schools as beginners, and for intervention, remains on the basis of CHANCE!

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Re: Outstanding article: 'Can Prevailing Approaches to Reading Instruction Accomplish the Goals of RTI?' Louisa Moats

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:08 pm

This is an outstanding post by Professor Pamela Snow which I've added to several threads as it is so relevant internationally even though it is written from Australia's context:

It's time for a Reading Renaissance

http://pamelasnow.blogspot.com/2018/10/ ... sance.html
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Re: Outstanding article: 'Can Prevailing Approaches to Reading Instruction Accomplish the Goals of RTI?' Louisa Moats

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:33 pm

I'm linking this thread to one from the 'Research and Recommended Reading' forum which features the work of Dr Kerry Hempenstall on multi-cueing:

The three-cueing system in reading: Will it ever go away?


Direct link to original post:

https://www.nifdi.org/news-latest-2/blo ... er-go-away
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Re: Outstanding article: 'Can Prevailing Approaches to Reading Instruction Accomplish the Goals of RTI?' Louisa Moats

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:18 am

In New South Wales, Australia, the official 'Language, Learning and Literacy (L3)' programme is critiqued by the FIVE from FIVE organisation and is shown to be NOT in line with the Simple View of Reading which is widely accepted by the research community. Instead, it is informed by the infamous 'Reading Recovery' programme and approach:

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Re: Outstanding article: 'Can Prevailing Approaches to Reading Instruction Accomplish the Goals of RTI?' Louisa Moats

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:55 pm

There is a new resurgence of Reading Recovery promotion based on a longitudinal study in England that is causing outrage amongst many people from different countries as evidenced by the responses via Twitter.

Science teacher/blogger, Greg Ashman, has posted a comment about this latest RR research via his blog 'Filling the Pail':

Another flawed Reading Recovery study to add to the pack


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