Emptor: Buyer (parent, teacher or school) Beware!
''There is an
established, and very rewarding, dyslexia industry. There is considerable
academic and commercial vested interest. There seem to be as many
aetiologies for (causes for or origins of) dyslexia as there are researchers
into it, give or take, and as many wonderfully special assessment methods,
remedial schemes, dedicated schools and distinguished gurus as the market
will carry'' (Kerr p89)
EEF = research funded by the Education Endowment Foundation
Controversial dyslexia therapies
optometry claims to treat a wide range of disorders, including learning
difficulty and attention problems. But these claims are not based on solid
scientific ground, and are not supported by rigorous evidence''
Behavioural Optometry: Not Recommended.
''Vision problems can interfere with the process of learning;
however, vision problems are not the cause of primary dyslexia or learning
disabilities..Diagnostic and treatment approaches that lack scientific
evidence of efficacy, including eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or
special tinted filters or lenses, are not endorsed and should not be
''It is important, therefore, that parents understand that dyslexia and
other learning disabilities are not disorders of vision and so visual
therapy is misdirected. Scientific evidence shows that behavioural optometry
treatments such as eye tracking exercises, vision therapy, weak glasses to
relax the focus, and coloured lenses/overlays do not help children read any
“Despite Irlen Syndrome being first described in the early 1980s, there is
still no sound theoretical basis or evidence that the condition actually
exists. A diagnosis of Irlen Syndrome is based solely on symptoms with no
quantitative physiological correlation.”
Questioning the benefits that coloured overlays can have for reading...
''Teams from Bristol and Newcastle universities carried
out eye tests on more than 5,800 children and did not find any differences
in the vision of those with dyslexia...Where there were dyslexic
children with eye problems, the occurrence was no more likely than for
non-dyslexics, the study found. And a large majority of dyslexic children
were defined as having "perfect vision"
The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of coloured filters for reading disability: A systematic review
''There are a lot of abnormalities of the eyes that normal readers have as well, so tinted lenses and overlays have no foundation as a bona fide treatment for reading problems in any research that I'm aware of'' (Prof. Vellutino quote in Mills. The Dyslexia Myth)
''(T)here is no evidence supporting a causal link between visual stress and dyslexia...assessment of visual stress and response to treatment is usually by subjective report'' (Rose 2009. p115)
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) Visual Spelling Strategies:
''This method, based on the NLP model, enables learners to develop effective
cognitive strategies for spelling. It makes use of visual imagery and may be
a particularly suitable method for learners with dyslexia as often visual
memory is a strength''
Primary Movement Project:
Dr. Martin McPhillips.
unique movement programme which seeks to replicate the early movements of
the fetus and to enhance the maturation of the central nervous system''
''The exercise programme, which 1,400 pupils will participate in, has been
funded by the government-backed **Education Endowment Foundation...''
The 10-minute routines of controlled movements, likened to t'ai chi by one
teacher, will be introduced at 40 primary schools to train pupils out of
reflexes in their bodies that can hamper their reading and writing''
Son of Brain Gym: Dancing to Nursery Rhymes Boosts A-Levels or something
**There is no mention of this programme on the EEF's page of completed
www.inpp.org.uk/ According to the INPP ''Primitive reflexes develop during uterine life. They should be fully present
at birth and are gradually inhibited by higher centres in the brain during the
first 6 to12 months of post-natal life. If they are activated by minor stimuli
in the environment at a later age, they can interfere with the development of
more complex skills.''
Quack Watch examines Doman and Delacato's 'patterning' theory.
Psychomotor Patterning =pseudoscience
''(I)t is still a concern that there has been a failure on the part of advocates of primitive reflex therapy to establish any convincing connection between infant motor reflexes and the complex process of learning to read'' (Muter p 181)
Dore (formerly DDAT):
BadScience on Dore
Miracles Take a Little Longer: Science, Commercialisation, Cures and the Dore Program
STEP Physical Literacy:
The STEP Physical Literacy programme: have we been here before?
Rhythm for Reading:
''A group reading intervention programme for
5 to 15 year olds that uniquely doesn't use words!''
The programme ''aims
to improve children’s reading ability by taking part in rhythm-based
exercises such as stamping, clapping and chanting, while reading musical
It enables ''teachers to accelerate students’ phonological
processing, reading accuracy, fluency, engagement and comprehension''
''(R)esearched in a five year study at UCL Institute of Education''
GraphoGame Rime project:
''A computer programme designed to improve pupils’ literacy through
teaching phonics via “rhyme analogy”, based on Goswami's rhythm and rhyme
theory. ''The trial found no evidence that GraphoGame Rime improves pupils’
reading or spelling test scores when compared to business-as-usual''
Notes on three 'phonics-lite' intervention
programmes with some characteristics in common + four cautions:
1. Optima Reading Programme (formerly Early Reading Research (ERR) but also
- Only so-called 'real' books used for word reading practice - see
Solity & Vousden's paper + caution 1.
- 100 high frequency words
(HFWs) memorised by sight without phonics decoding - see caution 2.
''most common GPC mappings'' found in monosyllabic words, directly taught - see caution 3.
''(A) novel intervention that teaches reading through systematic synthetic
phonics and real books, rather than the more
decodable reading schemes''
Real books vs reading schemes: A new perspective from instructional
psychology: J Solity, J Vousden. 2009.
''The research reported in this article therefore examines a sample of adult
and children’s real books together with two reading schemes, the Oxford
and Rhyme World, to explore their similarities and differences, and thus
use with beginning readers''
The Optima Reading Programme: Does it Provide Optimal Results? A Paper by Dr
2. Abracadabra (ABRA):
A small group reading support
programme (4x15mins a week) to improve literacy in Y1 pupils.
is intended to be
to usual literacy teaching''
N.B in the original Canadian research, the
''usual literacy teaching'' would have been a balanced word reading approach
- Only 'real' books used for word reading practice - see Solity & Vousden's paper +
- Only 64 ''most common GPC mappings'' found in monosyllabic
words, directly taught
-see caution 3.
- 'Set for variability' used from the start - see caution 4.
3. Flexible Phonics with DMSfV (Direct
Mapping and Set for Variability):
to the usual classroom literacy teaching.
N.B in the original Canadian research, it was used as an intervention
with some children, not ''additional to'' for all children, and the ''usual
literacy teaching'' would have been a balanced
word reading (multi-cueing) approach, not UK-style SSP
Developed by UCL Institute of Education
Led by Prof. Robert
- Only 'real' books used for word reading practice - see Solity &
Vousden's article + caution 1.
- Only 64 ''most common GPC mappings''
found in monosyllabic words, directly taught -see caution 3.
- 'Set for
variability' used from the start - see caution 4.
When considering any early
reading or intervention programme that expects children to use so-called real books for word reading
practice, based on the qualitative research in the 'Real
books vs Reading schemes' article, it's important to note that both 'Oxford Reading Tree' and
World', though described by Solity and Vousden as ''traditional phonically
decodable reading schemes'', were actually leveled predictable/repetitive text schemes,
not SSP decodable books with controlled phonics text. When early
reading or an intervention is taught using high
quality phonics along with SSP decodable books,
children quickly become able to move on to reading 'real' books
the dull, 'designed for guessing' predictable/repetitive text reading
In England, the DfE provide the following guidance on the essential core criteria for phonics programmes:
texts and books children are asked to read independently should be fully
decodable for them at every stage of the programme. This means they must be
composed almost entirely of words made up of grapheme-phoneme
correspondences that a child has learned up to that point. The only
exceptions should be a small number of common exception words that the child
has learned as part of the programme up to that point. In the early stages,
even these should be kept to a minimum''
(2021. DfE phonics programmes essential core criteria ) -
and common exception words are not to be learned ''as whole shapes 'by
sight'' see below.
''The 100 most frequently occurring words in
1,500 real books account for 54% of text''.
Nowers' 'Sight Words' article
''The problem with
teaching sight words as if they are a separate class of word is first of
all, it leads to confusion and secondly, it is likely to have a long-term,
detrimental effect on a substantial proportion of your most vulnerable
readers. It is confusing because children need to have one, just one,
‘word-attack’ strategy and that is to use their phonic knowledge to decode a
word all the way through from left to right. The reason they should be
taught this strategy is simply because it is the correct one; it is the one
that represents how English works and is the one that will enable them to
become the best reader they can be.''
In England, the DfE say that
validated phonics programmes must not include the memorising of any words by
''It should not include lists of high frequency words or
any other words for children to learn as whole shapes ‘by sight’'
(2021. DfE phonics programmes essential core
shows frequency of GPCs in real books reflects Pareto’s Law.
Just 20 GPCs enable pupils to read 81% of phonically regular
words (PRWs)'' PRWs = words that consist of transparent code
spellings. The 64 most common GPC mappings = 90% of
spellings in monosyllabic words.
Directly and systematically teaching
all or most of
the 176 common GPCs (basic and
advanced code spellings), along with how to read and spell multi-syllable words,
ensures that virtually every child is enabled to accurately decode around
90% of all the words in print they might
meet over a lifetime, including the much less common (Tier 3 vocabulary),
usually multi-syllable words found in the secondary curriculum. ''(T)hough
the words that are used most often are only one syllable long''
(McGuinness. p291 WCCR), at least 80% of
words in the English language are multi-syllabic.
Set for Variability: 'vowel
flipping' / phoneme manipulation. 'Set for variability' is not an advisable
practice in the early stages of teaching decoding or for early intervention,
when the necessary practice of using phonics exclusively for word decoding
is being established. Using 'real' books (text with uncontrolled spellings)
from the start whilst having little knowledge of the code, inevitably leads
many beginning or struggling readers to guess when they encounter words that
require both knowledge of the vowel GPCs
they haven't yet been taught and the ability to flip them in and out
(phoneme manipulation) of a word to see which one makes sense. ''When
reading, if pupils aren't sure, they try the alternatives. However, someone
has to teach them the alternatives before they can do this...the pupil will
also have to be skilful in taking sounds out of words and dropping in
alternatives to 'try them out'
Dyslexia Action's Units of Sound:
Headsprout Early Reading:
A computer-based, targeted reading intervention.
''Headsprout is not SSP. It's a US programme that teaches consonant
blends/onset and rime phonics. It should be researched against a UK
validated SSP programme/intervention'' (Rob Randel.
Primary Teacher) See link to Headsprout's 'Scope and Sequence' below
research negating 'onset and rime phonics' scroll down to the heading 'Onset
and Rime / Rhyming Analogy Word Reading':
In England, the DfE's
new essential core criteria for phonics programmes includes, ''The focus
should be on phonemes and not on ‘consonant clusters’ (/s/+/p/+/l/ not
/spl/) or ‘onset and rime’ (/c/+/a/+/t/ not c-at, m-at, b-at)''
Davis® Dyslexia Correction Programme:
''The Davis® Dyslexia Correction Programme was developed by Ronald Davis to
overcome his own learning difficulties. Davis sees dyslexia as a talent...The
Programme helps the individual to discover his innate gift, and to apply it to
the learning difficulty. In this way the blockages to effective learning are removed.
Clients are shown how to clear up confusions regarding letters, numbers, words
and language symbols and are aided in the process by the use of clay''
Blog posts discussing the Davis® Dyslexia Correction Programme
Orton-Gillingham (O-G) / Multisensory / Structured
Literacy / 'Specialist Dyslexia' intervention programmes:
The International Dyslexia Association (IDA: formerly the Orton Dyslexia Society) is the umbrella organisation for Orton-Gillingham teaching programs in the USA. The British Dyslexia Association
(BDA) is its UK partner. In a past article on the IDA's website requesting donations to carry out research, the IDA admitted that, ''there is no substantial body of scientific research supporting the efficacy of the multisensory component in structured-language reading instruction''. In the same article, the IDA acknowledged that, in an ''era of evidence-based instruction, citing clinical intuition and testimony may not suffice, even when authoritative and compelling'' and, as a result, they risked ''criticism of the sort directed at whole-language and other unfounded or discredited approaches''. In 2014 the IDA decided to start describing all O-G programmes as 'Structured Literacy' for marketing purposes
saying, "Structured Literacy" will help us sell what we do so well'' (http://www.interdys.org/IDA_Approach.htm)
Professor Joe Elliott asked on Twitter ''Claims that
O-G and multisensory approaches are the 'gold standard' for dyslexics. Where
is the scientific evidence?''
The inadequacy of O-G teaching was confirmed in Singleton's 2009 Dyslexia Review: ''Brooks (2007) has described ratio gains of between 1.4 and 2.0 as having ‘small impact’ and being ‘of modest educational significance’; ratio gains less than 1.4 he classes as being of ‘very small impact’ and ‘of doubtful educational significance’. On this basis all the results reported from studies in UK specialist [dyslexia] schools and teaching centres would be regarded as disappointing (or even disregarded altogether), since the largest ratio gain was only 2.0 (except at Moon Hall School [which uses a linguistic phonics programme]'' (Singleton p74)
In 2006, Ritchey & Goeke published a review of the literature of O-G
based instruction. They argued that these types of programs are simply
accepted from one convinced educator to the next, rather than on empirical
evidence. They described its ready acceptance as “fueled by anecdotal
evidence and personal experience. ... Despite widespread use by teachers in
a variety of settings for more than 5 decades, O-G instruction has yet to be
comprehensively studied and reported in peer-refereed journals. The small
number of existing studies lack methodological rigor that would be required
for publication in current peer-referred journals. ...There is
insufficient evidence to conclude that OG and OG-based reading instruction
meet the requirements of scientifically-based reading instruction (p.
New: 2021. 'Current State of the Evidence: Examining the Effects of
Orton-Gillingham Reading Interventions for Students With or at Risk for
Word-Level Reading Disabilities'
conducted a meta-analysis to examine the effects of Orton-Gillingham reading
interventions on the reading outcomes of students with or at risk for WLRD.
Findings suggested Orton-Gillingham reading interventions do not
statistically significantly improve foundational skill outcomes (i.e.,
phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, spelling...Similarly, there were
not significant differences for vocabulary and comprehension outcomes (ES =
0.14; p = .57) for students with or at risk for WLRD.''
the enthusiasm for multisensory approaches held by many specialist dyslexia
teachers (Kelly and Phillips, 2011), the theoretical grounds and scientific
rationale for their use are questionable (Moats and Farrell, 2005)'’
Also see p150 in Elliott and Grigorenko's The Dyslexia Debate.
Report on British Dyslexia Association O-G Courses for Reading and Spelling -
compared with UK-style synthetic phonics course content: http://www.rrf.org.uk/pdf/Report%20BDA%20Training%202012.pdf
Discussion on the evidence for teaching Open/Closed syllable-type rules as used in Orton Gillingham programmes
Greif 1981. The Utility of the "Vowels in Open Syllable" and "Vowels in
Closed Syllable" Phonic Rules When Pronouncing Two-Syllable Words: ''Results
indicated that [only] 44.9% of the open syllable words and 56% of the closed
syllable words could be pronounced correctly...the utility of the two
phonics rules is probably considerably lower than the percentages reported,
and the rules should not be taught to children.''
''No relationship exists between knowledge of syllabication rules and
successful reading'' (Canney & Schreiner, 1977).
''Students don't need to know syllable types or rules and should stay right
away from dictionary syllables.''
Meta-cognition and self-regulation:
Reading Recovery's UK-UCL centre provides GROW KS3 training ''for developing
metacognition and self-regulation''
The meta-cognition and self-regulation chimera
Is ‘metacognition and self-regulation’ an actual thing?
OUP's Project X CODE:
Project X CODE is an intervention programme for Y2-4 Wave 2 or ''lighter touch’ Wave 3 support''.
With its superficial phonics content, miscue analysis
assessment, inclusion of pseudo words (some with illegal spellings) and
text-lite readers, this intervention programme could never be described as high
quality phonics. A synthetic phonics expert said that in Project X CODE, ''the phonics is much too simple and slowly taught and loads of time is wasted on comprehension for children whose language comprehension is fine''.
See Prof.Diane McGuinness's damning critique of the CODE research
Caution -don't confuse Project X CODE with Project X Phonics
Commercial software for the acquisition of reading skills:
'A randomised controlled trial of the use of a piece of
commercial software for the acquisition of reading skills'
of many actual trials showing that technology does not improve and often
''(T)he software approach yields no relative advantage
for improvements, and may even disadvantage some pupils. On this evidence,
the use of software, of a kind that is in very common use across schools in
England, was a waste of resource''
Independent schools for dyslexics:
''Brooks (2007) has described ratio gains of between 1.4 and 2.0 as
having ‘small impact’ and being ‘of modest educational significance’; ratio
gains less than 1.4 he classes as being of ‘very small impact’ and ‘of
doubtful educational significance’. On this basis all the results reported from studies in UK specialist [dyslexia] schools and teaching centres would be regarded as disappointing (or even disregarded altogether), since the largest ratio gain was only 2.0 (except at Moon Hall School [which uses a programme similar to the Sound Reading System]'' (italics added. Singleton p74)
Maple Hayes: ''The Maple Hayes technique sorts words into morphemes (units of
meaning). These are either spelt conventionally by a combination of letters, or
represented by simple images called icons. The approach uses only one sense at a
time, to block out distractions. Reading is visual rather than aural (early
lessons are almost silent), while writing practice is by touch, using cursive
script where the pen stays on the paper. To help pupils concentrate, they will
be blindfolded at first.'' (TES)
Fairley House: 'Multi-Sensory Approach: To help learn words beginning with "squ", pupils squeeze oranges. For "shr", they shred paper'.
''A pupil at Fairley House, Pimlico has used his mouth to retrieve a raisin from a bowl of flour. The 'what have you found in the mound of flour?' reinforces the use of the vowels o and u'' (Times article)
Reading Recovery (RR)
is a 1-1 (Wave 3) intervention
programme which uses ''word memorisation and other teaching practices from the 'whole language theory of reading'' (HoC Sci/Tech committee).
It is taught by extensively (and very expensively) trained teachers and used
with a very narrow age group; children in Y1. Note that, ''(T)eacher judgement of need determines entry to the programme'' (Rose 2009 p63). In an article for the Independent, National Co-ordinator for RR, Julia Douetil, claimed that, "These are children for whom, for some reason, phonics hasn't worked" (Independent 30/10/08).
''Reading Recovery is ''a multi-cueing, non-systematic approach'' (Sir Jim Rose SPELD conference AU)
Over the course of a year, the school's RR teacher will give a handful of children individual tutoring for half-an-hour daily; around 90-100 sessions for each child. Despite this massive input, a significant number (23% RR's own figures) of children are failed by the programme and are ''referred on'' i.e. need further intervention. Because of the extremely high cost of implementing Reading Recovery, many cheaper copies have appeared
(cheaper because they can be used with TA-led small groups rather than an RR-trained teacher 1-1) which are based on exactly the same principles -see below.
Lyn Stone observed a Reading Recovery lesson.
Karina McLachlain's letter about Reading Recovery appeared in the LDA Bulletin May 2014 p40.
''The scheme does not have high aspirations. It is only intended to bring the poorest readers up to ‘average’ for their class. In order to make the scheme look more effective than it is, in practice, the RR teacher in the UK does not select children for the scheme if they have any sort of learning difficulties and those who make no progress are discontinued from the scheme early and eliminated from the stats as if they never took part''
Dr.Singleton was a key contributor to the now archived, DCSF-commissioned,
2009 Rose Report on Dyslexia (Rose. 2009). On the subject of Reading Recovery, he said, ''Only 12%–15% of Reading Recovery children completing their programmes between 2003 and 2007 achieved a Level 2a or above in Key Stage 1 Reading National Curriculum assessments, the level at which children can tackle unfamiliar words and have therefore developed a self-sustaining word recognition system'' (Singleton 2009 p11)
Singleton also pointed out that Reading Recovery measured children's progress using the BAS-II word reading test: 6yrs.7mths ''was the average reading age of only
those children who responded well to Reading Recovery''. Singleton noted that a child can achieve a RA of 6.7 on BAS-II ''with knowledge of only a few words'' as ''only 21 words on the test have to be read correctly, which can be easily achieved by a child who has memorised some very high frequency common words (e.g.the,up,you,at,said,out) and knows and can use single letter sounds, plus the simple digraphs 'sh' and 'th'' (Singleton p117)
''Many ways of teaching reading rely on children learning to ‘sound out’ words they don’t know, but in Reading Recovery we are sceptical of the usefulness of this approach'' (Running Record
newsletter Dec. '04 p8)
A Reading Recovery teacher commented that one of her
boys was at ‘level 17’ in reading books but did not reach the
benchmark for the phonics check.
In 2002 ''a letter* was sent to members of the U.S. Congress with 31 signatures of the top researchers in the field of reading urging Congress to suspend support for RR because independent research showed the method had no effect. It is extremely costly to implement, re teacher training, tutoring time, and materials. Not only this, but RR "research" is notorious for misrepresenting the data. In a recent publication by the Institute of Education, the same problems appear. 1. Nearly half of the children from the 145 strong "RR-tutoring group" were dropped from the study at post-testing, while the control group remained intact. (Barely a mention of this, and no attempt to solve the problem this creates.) 2. The RR group received individual tutoring, the control group got none. One could go on. The published paper bears the hallmarks of a bona fide "scientific" journal, until a closer inspection reveals it is published by Reading Recovery. No chance for an impartial peer review process here''
(D. Mcguinness. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/evchlint/me1302.htm)
* Letter from top researchers ''urging Congress to suspend support for RR because independent research showed the method had no effect''
Two positive reports on Reading Recovery® (RR) produced by the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC)
http://t.co/gkQy2C7Tay are often used to claim that RR is an effective intervention. Professors James W. Chapman and William E. Tunmer examined the claims: Reading Recovery®: Does It Work?
Comprehensive review of UK Reading Recovery. 2007.
Parliament's all-party Science and Technology committee
questioned the continued use of Reading Recovery:
Evidence Check on Early Literacy Interventions
Having checked all the evidence, the committee said:
''Teaching children to read is one of
the most important things the State does. The Government
has accepted Sir Jim Rose's recommendation that systematic
phonics should be at the heart of the Government's strategy for
teaching children to read. This is in conflict with the
continuing practice of word memorisation and other teaching
practices from the 'whole language theory of reading' used
particularly in Wave 3 Reading Recovery. The Government should
vigorously review these practices with the objective of ensuring
that Reading Recovery complies with its policy''
RRF's response to the HoC S&T select comm.
Evidence Check on Early Literacy Interventions.
In a 2009 speech, Sir Jim Rose confirmed what leading UK and International reading experts had
been saying for a long time, that Reading Recovery (RR) is ''a multi-cueing, non-systematic approach'' (Sir
Jim Rose. Presentation to Speld).
Despite RR being incompatible with the 2006 Rose review's recommendations and despite their earlier promises (see above), inexplicably, the
then Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF
2009) continued to encourage and fund schools to use RR as a Wave 3 intervention for Y1 children AND recommended that they 'layer' RR with a range of other RR
derivatives, all found under the Every Child a Reader (ECAR)
mantle. In this way the DCSF continued to endorse whole
language and effectively ensured that the multi-cueing
strategies became deeply embedded in most schools.
The government is still funding Reading Recovery and
its many derivatives, via LEAs.
''In Bristol, schools cannot access any CPD on phonics at all,
the only message is RR. Phonically decodable books are
actively discouraged by the Bristol reading advisors''
(Teacher in Bristol)
2020. “Look at the picture”: cognitive load theory and Reading Recovery'
Using cognitive load
theory, this article seeks to explain the failure of Reading Recovery as an
effective instructional technique.
In a 2020 update to its guidance for 'Improving Literacy in Key Stage
One', the state-funded Education Endowment Foundation openly recommended
using Reading Recovery (RR) as a KS1 intervention, despite it being ''a
multi-cueing, non-systematic approach'' (Sir Jim
To support this recommendation, the EEF said RR ''is highlighted by the EIF guidebook for the
positive impacts found in several high-quality evaluations conducted in
James Chapman commented on each of the RR evaluations
used by the EIF guidebook. He wrote:
''Study 1, by Schwartz only includes assessments from Clay’s Observation
Survey plus reading book level. No standardised assessments were used, which
has often drawn criticism by researchers who have examined RR.
- Study 2, by May et al. was a large study funded mainly by Obama’s i3
stimulus fund following the global financial crisis. Bill Tunmer and I
published a critique of the study in the US journal, Reading Psychology. In
essence, this study had no proper control group, but a variety of comparison
conditions; in violation of RR guidelines and Marie Clay’s explicit
recommendation, various schools in the study did not put their “hardest to
teach” (Clay) students into the programme, presumably because they didn’t
think RR would do any good; the “success” rate was only 53%.
Interesting that Study 1 & 2 received a rating of 3 out of 4. Those who
provided the ratings might need to take a graduate level research methods
- Study 3 by D’Agostino et al received a rating of 2, which is generous.
That study had numerous caveats about the efficacy of RR.
In the US, Pam Cook et al have been highly critical of the May et al i3
scale-up of RR. She and the others are not academics and have done a
tremendous piece of work taking the May et al study to task. Cook et al have
written a number of pieces about this.''
Reviews of RR research to
support Prof. James Chapman's comments:
unrecovered learners: Characteristics and issues
Chapman and William E. Tunmer
The Reading Wars and Reading Recovery: What Educators, Families,
and Taxpayers Should Know
Pamela Cook, Deborah R. Rodes, Kay L.
Is Reading Recovery an Effective Intervention for Students with
Reading Difficulties? A Critique of the i3 Scale-Up Study
W. Chapman & William E. Tunmer
Reading Recovery: A Failed Investment
Dr. Jennifer Buckingham.
KPMG Foundation report left out negative findings from its Reading Recovery
''I am astonished that Reading Recovery is being encouraged to
proliferate in England when it is on the record that research on RR shows
weak results and the findings in the much lauded ECAR study [see above] had
been deliberately doctored'' (Dr. Jennifer Buckingham. Twitter)
Reading Recovery derivatives:
''The government has invested considerable funds via the EEF to run randomized controlled trials. One of the RCT evaluations recently released by the EEF was for a programme called
Switch-on Reading What is not apparent in the headline, but appears later in the report, is that the programme is in fact a repackaging of Reading Recovery, which is now being aimed at students at the transition between Key Stages 2 and 3''
and effect sizes:https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/the-effect-of-reading-recovery/
Prof. Kathy Rastle tweeted the following comment on the EEF's Switch-on
Reading research ''The trial for this one to one 10 week intervention showed
a small to medium effect against no intervention, at a cost of £627 / pupil
including TAs. In a 2nd trial there was no effect of the intervention. Poor
use of public funding''
Fischer Family Trust Wave 3.
http://literacy.fischertrust.org/overview/wave-3/ is another non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme. ''It is based on the pedagogy and practice of Reading Recovery''.
Catch up Literacy.
''Due to the lack of impact in the second trial, the EEF will
be removing Catch Up Literacy from the list of promising
evidence of the success of the Catch Up Programme is the marked
improvement in attitude to reading shown by the children''. Catch Up Literacy is based on the same multi-cueing principles as Reading Recovery.
A comparison of the recommendations of the Rose review and Catch Up programme training:
BRP (originally 'Better Reading Partnership', now 'Boosting Reading Potential') was ''developed by Bradford Local Education Authority (LEA) in 1996 and is based on the Reading Recovery Programme''...''The reading partner notes the child's use of the three BRP reading strategies: grapho-phonic (visual), syntactic (structure) and semantic (meaning). Weaknesses are addressed through prompts: "Does that look right?", "Does that sound right?", and "Does that make sense?" (Dunford. LiteracyTrust). This Wave 2 intervention programme is recommended for 'layering' with Reading Recovery. BRP has now been rebranded and significantly updated. There are now two versions of the programme: boostingreading@primary (BR@P) and boostingreading@secondary (BR@S)'' BRP is a Wave 2 non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme. ''BoostingReading@Primary is recognised as an effective intervention by the European Centre for Reading Recovery at the Institute of Education, University of London, and is included in Every Child a Reader''
Pearson-Heinemann 'Rapid Reading' KS2 Wave 3 intervention http://www.pearsonschoolsandfecolleges.co.uk/Primary/Literacy/AllLiteracyresources/RapidReading/RapidReading.aspx
The series editors, Dee Reid and Diana Bentley, also devised the 'Catch Up' programme -see above.
Pearson publish packs of Reading Recovery whole language readers through their Heinemann imprint
R + P interventions
based on Reading Recovery multi-cueing strategies
+ Phonological awareness training +
Leveled reading books:
Peter Hatcher's book 'Sound Linkage': An oral 'phonological awareness training' programme where children are trained to manipulate sounds in words orally
without the use of letters (see method 3 for discussion of phonological awareness training) and designed to be used alongside reading instruction based on the Reading Recovery approach. ''In Hatcher's own work, he has incorporated Sound Linkage into the Marie Clay Reading Recovery framework'' (The Study of Dyslexia. p120)
Cumbria Reading Intervention:
This 1-1 intervention was mentioned approvingly by Prof. Elliott in the
Channel 4 documentary 'The Dyslexia Myth' (2005). This perhaps gave it some
credence that it doesn't deserve; it consists of a Reading Recovery clone
along with Hatcher's Sound Linkage phonological awareness programme (see
above) and leveled reading books. ''Based upon Marie Clay’s successful,
Reading Recovery Programme, the Cumbrian scheme has drawn upon more recent
research and incorporated a greater emphasis on phonological skills''
The leveled reading books (repetitive/predictive text) used throughout
the programme are from Hatcher's Graded Booklist
John Walker comments on the books in Hatcher's Booklist:
The Cumbria Reading Intervention (see above) was adopted by North
Yorkshire and re-named:
The North Yorks Reading
R+P intervention study reported here, 28% of the 20-week and 21% of the 10-week Intervention group had standard scores below 80 at the end of the intervention.. Moreover, children varied in their responsiveness to the teaching they received and about a quarter could be defined as treatment 'non-responders''
Phonology with Reading programme (Nuffield Foundation. Language4Reading) was a research project using an R+P intervention with at-risk children. It combined Jolly Phonics materials (for teaching 36 GPCs over 20 weeks) with 'oral phonological awareness' exercises (Hatcher's Sound Linkage), plus 'direct teaching in [global] sight word recognition' and immediate reading practice using books, leveled using Hatcher's whole language banding system. ''The Teaching Assistant monitored the child’s reading ability by taking a running record of the child reading a book at the instructional level in each individual session. One new book was introduced per session, which the child attempted to read independently, before finishing off with guided reading of the new book''. The resulting research paper by Bowyer-Crane et al (2007) revealed that, 'At the end of the intervention, more than 50% of at-risk children remain in need of literacy support'
N.B. the actual Jolly Phonics programme initially teaches a Basic Code of 42 GPCs, with phonically decodable words and sentences provided for reading practice in order to avoid needing multiple
word reading strategies and global sight word memorisation.
A version of the R+P Phonology with Reading programme -see above, was used in a study for children with Down Syndrome (Kelly Burgoyne et al) ‘'The Reading and Language Intervention for Children with Down Syndrome combines reading and language instruction in daily teaching sessions that are designed to meet the particular learning needs of children with Down syndrome. It incorporates work on letter knowledge, phonological awareness, whole word and book reading''.
''After 40 weeks of intervention, the intervention group remained numerically ahead of the control group on most key outcome measures; but these differences were not significant''
In contrast, as a result of her own extensive experience and research, an educational psychologist recommends using a systematic synthetic phonics programme with children with Down syndrome. This EP comments, ''Of course we would not deny oral language development work with any children with global learning difficulties, but where we differ would be that we would start with phonics and try to establish phonics as primary strategy for reading, whereas this new initiative seems to be just a re-hash of oral language with a searchlights type approach''.
Undettered by the lack of
good results when using an intervention in which the 'reading strand' consists of an R+P approach, researchers used this style of intervention again in a study with children 'at risk for dyslexia'. In the description of the intervention it says: ‘’In all reading activities, phonic decoding is encouraged as the primary strategy for reading unknown words; other strategies (e.g. use of context and pictures) are also taught’’ (italics added)
Study's conclusion ''This new intervention was theoretically motivated and based on previous successful interventions
[sic], yet failed to show reliable effects on language and literacy measures following a rigorous evaluation''.
YARC The York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension.
YARC overview booklet with Early Reading Assessment
(ERA age 4-6) ''The early reading suite comprises four short tests specifically
designed for pupils with reading difficulties. These tests assess a pupil’s
phonological skills, alphabetic knowledge and word reading in a
time-efficient and flexible way''
test material provided in the YARC ERA to assess alphabet knowledge and 'word
reading' is inadequate to provide a true assessment of a child's word
decoding ability. Furthermore, poor phonics decoding ability can
impinge on a child's reading comprehension; accurate assessment of
reading comprehension is reliant on a child’s ability to
accurately decode words.
Book Leveling / Banding Schemes:
''Designed to help teachers to audit,
organise and supplement a school's existing sets of reading materials at Key Stage 1''.
Reading Recovery's Bookbands / Cliff Moon's Individualised Reading / Hatcher's Graded booklist / Nelson Thornes PM Books and the Catch Up Literacy booklist are all book leveling schemes based on the whole language notion of early reading - that is, beginners, or those requiring remedial intervention, need to use globally memorised sight words, initial letter/s, pictures and context clues to 'read'. In these schemes, books are leveled according to number of words on a line, the number of lines on a page, number of high frequency words used and the degree of repetition, NOT on the decodability of the text. For example, books in Pink Bookband (recommended for children aged 4-5), 'usually have no more than 10 pages with up to 5 words on a page' (ReadingChest/bookbands) ''At level 1 children master a growing number of high frequency words and look for meaning from a close match of words and pictures'' (PM Books)
'What works for pupils with literacy difficulties: the effectiveness
of intervention schemes'
The 6th edition (2020) of 'What Works' - a survey of readIng intervention
schemes in England (funded by PATOSS 'The Professional Association of Teachers
of Students With Specific Learning Difficulties)
This online publication, ''is a comparison of a collection of self reported studies on programmes used to remediate reading difficulties. There is no control over the quality of the research or the accuracy of the data. Inclusion of 'studies' is completely random, depending as it does, on the right people seeing the right 'evidence call' in the right publications, at the right moment'' (maizieD)
'There’s a psychological phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance which is the tendency to filter out information that conflicts with what one already believes, in an effort to ignore that information and reinforce one's beliefs. In the context of intervention, it is uncomfortable to conclude that one put in a lot of time and money into a treatment that has not worked. There is likely, therefore, to be a cognitive bias to paint as bright a picture as possible. This seems supported by studies that find a mismatch between people’s perceptions of efficacy and objective evidence.'' (Prof Bishop.BDA 2008. ppt)
''If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion'' Robert A. Heinlein.
''If you think you know the truth without having to collect
any data, that saves a lot of time'' Stanovich
''What can be asserted without evidence can
also be dismissed without evidence'' C. Hitchens.