Michael Rosen presents a thorough criticism of the belief, promoted by England’s Schools Minister Nick Gibb, that one kind of phonics instruction is responsible for improvement on the PIRLS by English 9 and 10 year olds. He concludes with this statement:
“Given that the PIRLS test was a comprehension test, and given that comprehension is hugely aided by reading for pleasure, then I will make the claim that the reading of these books is also a contributory factor until such time can prove to me I'm wrong!”
There is overwhelming evidence that Michael Rosen is right. Reading for pleasure is by far the most consistent and strongest predictor of performance on any reading test that involves comprehension. This has been documented in study after study, published as professional scientific papers in journals and in books. Reading for pleasure emerges as the consistent winner in method comparison studies, correlational studies, and in case histories.
Mr. Gibb and his staff are apparently not aware of this research. Let me help: Of course I suggest beginning with my books (The Power of Reading; Free Voluntary Reading), but a great deal of the research is available for free at www.sdkrashen.com (section on “free voluntary reading”).
McQuillan, J. 1998. The Literacy Crisis: False Claims and Real Solutions. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Publishing Company.
Read to Ace the SAT, New Test Taking Tips. https://www.languagemagazine.com/2017/06/read-ace-sat/