Friday, September 18, 2015

(Most of ) "For better reading: Libraries, not heavy phonics" published + a request for evidence

Published in The Australian, September 20, 2015
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority chief Robert Randall wants a concentration on phonics because of its importance in developing reading ability.
The research says that intensive phonics instruction does not lead to better performance on tests of reading comprehension.
The research says that those who read better are those who have done more real reading for pleasure, and children with more access to books do more reading for pleasure.
Stephen Krashen, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, US

ORIGINAL VERSION SUBMITTED. NOTE THAT THE LAST SENTENCE WAS NOT INCLUDED:
The Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority wants a concentration on phonics because of its importance in developing reading ability ("Phonics, faith and coding for primary school kids," September 19)
This doesn't agree with what the research says.  The research says that heavy, intensive phonics instruction does not lead to better performance on tests of reading comprehension, tests in which children have to understand what they read. The research says that those who read better are those who have done more real reading for pleasure, and children with more access to books do more reading for pleasure.
If we are interested in developing reading ability, the concentration should be on libraries, not heavy phonics.


Article: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/education/phonics-faith-and-coding-for-primary-school-kids/story-fn59nlz9-1227534083014?sv=2f37b94f8cac5b5fff430d9cafd1ef41
Sources:
Krashen, S. (2004). The power of reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann and Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited (second edition).
Krashen, S. (2009). Does intensive reading instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74.

this letter: http://skrashen.blogspot.com/2015/09/for-better-reading-libraries-not-heavy.html


C. Clifford wants to see the research:
Phonics works well
What is the research Stephen Krashen refers to showing that intensive phonics teaching does not improve reading comprehension (Letters, 21/9)? Britain is the only English-speaking OECD country where the teaching of reception phonics is mandatory. Reception phonics must be taught intensively as early as possible. No teaching of sight words or whole language, no guessing words or looking at pictures or being surrounded by books that children can’t read.
After testing 500,000 students in Britain in 2014, the research showed that reception phonics can boost a child’s reading age by 28 months by the age of seven. Even in schools with high numbers of special needs children, this was so. Some seven-year-olds attained a reading age of 13.
Is Krashen claiming that these children can only read the words and not understand them? Even if this vague, unproved claim is correct, it is better that they can read than be functionally illiterate.
C. Clifford, Chatsworth, Qld

Response SUBMITTED BUT NOT PUBLISHED:

The limits of intensive phonics: The evidence. Sent to The Australian, September 22.
C. Clifford (letter, "Phonics works well," September 23) asks me for details about research showing that intensive phonics does not improve reading comprehension.  I have summarized this research, and provided citations, in a paper available online:  Krashen, S. (2009). Does intensive reading instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74.  (Available for free download at: http://sdkrashen.com/articles.php?cat=1).
I included this citation in my original letter, but it was not published.

Stephen Krashen        

Clifford letter: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/letters/labor-had-the-chance-to-tackle-tax-when-in-office-but-didnt/story-fn558imw-1227539202304



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