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Only in England, Pity

May 19, 2014 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 07:37 AM

Of course, there is no such thing as a silver bullet in education, but systematic phonics comes pretty close. Doubters ought to read this report by Dr. Marlynne Grant, an English educational psychologist. Dr. Grant is actually reporting on two studies. The first is a two-year study of "reception" (our JK) children who were taught to read using systematic phonics. At the end of two years, when they were just six years old, all 30 children were fluent readers who could read well above grade level - despite being children with a high level of social and special education need, including ESL. The second study is a larger longitudinal study following up on a much-earlier cohort of 700 disadvantaged children who had been taught to read using systematic phonics but then received no special treatment. At the end of grade 8, the group as a whole could read significantly above the national average and not one child had difficulties with literacy. 

From the study's conclusions: "These studies with Reception and Year 1 children demonstrate that teaching with a government-approved systematic, synthetic phonics programme can be a brilliant opportunity to drive up reading standards. There is no evidence to indicate that such phonics teaching is a 'straightjacket' or that it will 'switch off' children from a love of reading books. Nor is there any evidence that such teaching damages children's development. On the contrary, children taught in this way pick up reading quickly. They become enthusiastic and confident in their reading and are more able and willing to engage in the world of reading around them. Teaching in this way also appears to be more powerful than potential barriers to learning experienced by vulnerable groups such as boys, children with summer birthdays, children entitled to free school meals, travellers and children with English as an additional language. Children who are slow-to-start, for a variety of possible reasons, can be identified early and are responsive to catch-up intervention in small groups, also using synthetic phonics teaching. These early strugglers were shown to close the gap with both reading and spelling."

Possibly even more exciting, the boys did as well as the girls and there were no dyslexic students. These findings suggest that Ontario's gender gap and the high incidence of learning disabilities are an artifact of the way reading is taught.  H/T SL

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Trust me, I know everything she says is true.

However, it`s not third party research or a gold standard study.

I go through this all the time.
She is with a company called Synthetic Phonics.

Her research will need to be “gold standard” and be peer reviewed to be taken seriously.

Posted by Jo-Anne Gross on 05/19 at 10:38 AM

“The implication of these results is hugely significant. It could be said that dyslexia can be eliminated with rigorous, first-time synthetic phonics teaching and sufficient catch-up synthetic phonics for children who struggle with literacy and for children with SEN. Synthetic phonics teaching, careful monitoring of progress and extra teaching with synthetic phonics for slow-to-start children was found to be effective for all children in the studies.”

As a parent, it brought back the memories of grade 1, and learning my phonemic sounds in one to one instruction by the grade one teacher. I learned to read before I had verbal fluency. Today, most of the progressive educationists will still insist, it is impossible for a child like me to become fluent and reach high levels in reading and writing. In 1960, it was not impossible for a classroom full of immigrant children to children with language problems to a couple of children who had obvious attention deficit problems for all to become fluent in reading, and achieving at the high end of average to above average.

I was not the exception to the rule, nor was the other classmates in the grade 1 classroom exceptions to the rule. We all learned to decode the written words, and not as it is done today, by guessing at the words using whole language ideologies. Learning to read, despite my language difficulties opened up the access doors so I could achieved academically. Learning to read with proficiency and fluency opened up the academic education opportunities offered in the classrooms of the 1960s.

So on appearances, it is tempting to state even by researchers that dyslexia can be eliminated, but being dyslexic myself, I still have the difficulties of sounding an unknown word out loud, but not silently. I still have difficulties in spelling words that I should have mastered by now, but I will insist on putting a ‘h’ where there is no ‘h’ in the word. When my youngest child came around with all the language difficulties of a major speech delay, my education began on all things dyslexia and in the process, I discovered due to the whole language instructional methods and other progressive pedagogy practices conducted at the public primary classes in the K to 12 schools across the land, dyslexia, ADHD and other learning problems that students have, prevents students from progressing academically and learning. Children who do not mastered the basics in the 3 Rs, are children who are condemned to forever to remained at the bottom of the achievement charts. Way beyond me, why the 21st century pubic education establishment insists to make the primary classrooms, the chosen domain to make the primary students the lab rats for pedagogy practices that are based on political ideologies and NOT the science of learning.

Dyslexia doesn’t disappeared, but what disappears after reading instruction based on synthetic and systematic phonics or some variant based on the reading science, is that the students with developmental dyslexia are now able to managed the dyslexic problems associated in learning and achieving academically. Having good skills in reading and writing, masks the dyslexia problems. But as I learned recently, if being tested for decoding, my number one problem is decoding but my very large vocabulary banks all makes me a very accomplished reader and writer, despite the decoding weaknesses that I have.

That said, additional info on Dr. Grant. Of interest because she is a chartered educational psychologist. Very different in the UK compared to Canada. Starting on page 2 and jumped to page 6, she is highly qualified. Psychology Degree where next Aug 2013.pdf
The Zoom Info -
Grant’s connection to Pearson -
On the International Phonics forum - one will find that the 21st century educators are insisting to teach children multiple methods in learning to read.

To Joanne’s remark - “Her research will need to be “gold standard” and be peer reviewed to be taken seriously.”  As I have observed, the large bulk of research undertaken by the K to 12 ivory towers are not gold standard. The pedagogy educationalists of the public K to 12, don’t want their research peer reviewed, because no one from the outside can replicate the research of the K to 12 educationalists. At least Dr. Grant is pushing the boundaries for better reading instruction, by insisting all children can learn to mastered reading and writing at high levels. In my eyes, she is doing good work, just like Joanne is doing good work in fighting a good fight against the pedagogy educationalists of the public K to 12 education system who do far more damage to students, and their academic futures.

Posted by Nancy on 05/19 at 04:00 PM

“Basic skills” Deeply Begrudged

Here is a twitter message that went round the world yesterday —

“I am a teacher of English teachers and I never want to hear the term “basic skills” ever again.”

— from Australia.

It’s no wonder there are TWO Reviews in Australia at the moment — one on the National Curriculum and one on Teacher Training.  The story goes on —

“I ask my second year student teachers in their first assignment in English Curriculum Studies to explain their philosophy on English teaching and tell me which teaching methods they think are important in 2014.

I warn them — If you tell me that you advocate a ‘basic skills’ approach to teaching I will fail your paper.

I won’t. (I only tell them this afterwards.)”

That is this teacher’s way to get engagement and at the same time to say what an “affront” mentioning “basic skills” is to professional teachers.  That is to ignore, of course, what the average parent expects.  It’s amazing how to this day educators disparage the foundation skills so necessary to further learning and how hosts of manufactured competencies are seen as equal or replacements. 


Posted by Tunya Audain on 05/20 at 10:07 AM

Programmed Illiteracy, Sponsored Illiteracy, Planned Illiteracy

All titles of books, some really old and unavailable — but you get the picture.  Some people have written about the deliberate withholding of best practice. 

Bruce Deitrick Price says:  “When our experts rejected phonics, they were engaged in a blatant conspiracy. No other explanation works.”  See his latest article here

But, for his article on the three books above plus a movie see an earlier article

For a review by Price of the book Programmed Illiteracy in Our Schools — a book set mostly in Canada by Mary Johnson — go to and search for that title and there will be one review.

It’s time we caught up with the blatant politics behind the reading wars and the refusal by so many educators to commit to reading as a priority foundational skill.

Posted by Tunya Audain on 05/22 at 01:59 AM

The intelligentsia starting with Goodman 50 yrs ago said reading was a psycholinguistic guessing game.This flawed hypothesis with zero research to back it up became the norm.
It said phonics was rote learning and inferior and that it didn’t teach comprehension.
In spite of the National Reading Panel’s review of 2000 studies on reading research and the NICHD 35 yr study on “how do children learn to read”,it only cost them half a billion dollars,they can’t get the professors at University to train the teachers studying for a B.Ed.
I don’t think it’s a conspiracy,every professor wants research money and wants to extol their own opinion.
It’s a cat fight,at the highest levels.
To this day,maybe 7 universities in the U.S train their teachers.i don’t know of any in Canada.
When Linda Siegel at UBC was asked to write guidelines for language arts for the Ministry of Ed.a few years ago,she then went to China to deliver a paper.She returned and found the guidelines from another University in B.C.were adopted,pure whole language,immersion,they like the easy fuzzy stuff.
That’s what NCLB is all about.They were trying to force accountability.

Posted by Jo Anne Gross on 05/22 at 06:54 AM

Actually it is both a conspiracy and a cat fight among the educationalists and academia. However it is worded, whether planned illiteracy,  or programmed illiteracy, it is all about the political and economic powers holding sway what will be or not be an education in the K to 12 schools. As one can appreciated there is many special interest groups within the K to 12, of which many carry hidden agendas such as the profiteers to holding economic beliefs that amounts to educating according to the social income status of students in some form or another.

As I have discovered deep in the pedagogical files seeking why the lawyers of the Moore case, would state that 50 % of students will never reached average to above average reading levels, because the statement is true. The statement is true because it is planned low literacy levels to satisfied the economic and political goals of the government. It is based on the education philosophies and pedagogies that are rooted in the political philosophies dating back to the days of Plato that began in the late 19th century and the development of the public education system to educate the masses.

Thanks largely to the pedagogy and education historians, the main postulation is that there is no need for at least 50 % of children to have fair to good skills in the 3 Rs. The 3 Rs are the gateways to acquired knowledge, and as such knowledge has always been a valuable commodity since the ancient times by the political and economic powers.  Knowledge is power for one and all -

When the K to 12 education model was formed in the late 19th century across Europe and North America. the education pedagogy morphed into an instrument for the political and economic powers to maintained lower literacy/numeracy levels and lower levels of knowledge banks. Suffice to say, in the 21st century grade 12 graduates shared less common knowledge than their counterparts of the 1960s or the 1920s. One can go to school for 12 years without acquiring the knowledge of where Europe or the North Atlantic or Newfoundland is located on a map, to the various government systems from federalism to communists to republican systems to the simple skills of addressing an envelope to adding a column of numbers to understanding the toxic brew found in pesticides. As such, knowledge is treated as a commodity by the K to 12 education establishment in the 21st century, under the new premise that knowledge can be learned anytime under the framework of life long learning philosophies.

Hence the reading and math wars began in the early 20th century and has continued unabated into the 21st century. The wars have extended into the courts of the land, and even paid a visit in Supreme Court of Canada hearing the Moore case. The education establishment to their dismay, found out their methods and practices that prevents children from accessing knowledge (the education opportunities of a school) without the tools (the 3 Rs) is discrimination.

It is all about educating according to the social-income ranking of students. In turn the K to 12 education model has become big business across the span from local to globally in reaping big profits. In turn, the K to 12 education model has facilitate governments of any stripes to realized their political and economic goals. The most recent cuts by the federal government is in areas of adult literacy and numeracy.
To petitions on the go to the realities that upgrading literacy and numeracy skills may become only for the people who have the bigger pocketbooks.

How else to explain why teachers are not trained as Joanne has expressed? How else to explain the math and reading wars?  How else to explain the multi-billionaire dollar industry in the K to 12 education sector where the K to 12 educationalists and pedagogical theorists have the political and economic capital to control what will be or not be for the education of children across the globe? Last but not least, how else to explain the sending of SE children home by the schools?  Or what parents must do - “Toronto mom Irene Kassies says she has been so frustrated getting the necessary supports for her 10-year-old daughter that she has opted for private tutoring. Her daughter has processing issues and, as a result, is academically delayed.” Globe and Mail&utm_type=text&utm_content=TheGlobeandMail&utm_campaign=116002598

Lack of funds?  Please, that has been the excuse since the first school house and of the 21st century has been the only excuse not to provide corrective remediation for the 3 Rs based on the science, and the main reason given to parents.

Posted by Nancy on 05/22 at 10:37 AM

Clackmannanshire research tells us all of this as well. Also Bonnie Mcmillan originally from UBC now residing in England has also proven this information in the most in depth book I’ve ever read on reading acquisition called Why Schoolchildren Can’t Read. When I look at actions taken by governments and school districts, I actually wonder if they really want children to learn to read. They keep reinventing the wheel and always go back to whole language in one form or another with different names. Balanced Literacy, Guided Reading, Phonemic Awareness (this cannot stand alone but they use it’s name and then claim phonics doesn’t work. See Clackmannanan). And last but not least we have the Supreme Court of Canada setting a precedence via the Rick Moore decision. Those hearings put reading methodology on trial. That was the crux of the hearings and phonics won. It also means, according to the highest court of our land school districts have an obligation by law to teach our children to read.

Posted by Heather on 05/26 at 12:07 PM

I almost forgot! Coming to you also from England is Toe by Toe. It is a brilliant program, 20 minutes a day. Prisons are using it by having literate prisoners teach illiterate prisoners. And guess what happens when they leave with their new skills? Right. They don’t reoffend. This is a no brainer, isn’t it?
Check them out:
I also noticed that you can purchase it on Amazon! This is an excellent tool especially for students in higher grades whose skills are lacking. This catches them up in a very user friendly way. It works.

Posted by Heather Maahs on 05/26 at 12:14 PM

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