"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Is increasing reading instruction a good idea?

Sent to Education Week, January 25, 2014

We need to take a much closer look at claims that increased time spent in reading instruction results in improvement in reading achievement ("Fla. Pushes Longer School Day, More Reading in Some Schools," Jan. 22). According the Ed Week article, scores were higher than comparison schools in only 20 of the 100 schools observed. In other words, in 80 out of the 100 schools, there comparison schools did as well (or worse?). In addition, we are told that teachers in the program were known to "effective in teaching reading," in other words, in increasing test scores, which can be done in a variety of ways that have nothing to do with improving reading (e.g. teaching test-taking strategies).

Even if increased reading did work, we need to ask these questions: What kinds of tests were used? How much real reading was included in the treatments?

Intensive phonics instruction only significantly improves scores on tests in which children pronounce lists of words presented in isolation, and there is no evidence that phonemic awareness training improves scores on tests of reading comprehension.

In contrast there is massive evidence that more time spend in self-selected free reading produces increased gains in reading comprehension, as well as vocabulary, grammar and spelling.

Stephen Krashen

original article:  http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/01/22/18florida_ep.h33.html?tkn=UYNFBnWvn5QCgOj0j76PFewH7P7W8gII2h34&cmp=clp-edweek


Phonics instruction: Garan, Elaine M. 2002. Resisting  Reading Mandates: How to Triumph with the Truth. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Krashen, S.  2009. "Does Intensive Reading Instruction Contribute to Reading Comprehension?" Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74.

Phonemic awareness instruction: Krashen, S. 2001. Does “pure” phonemic awareness training affect reading comprehension? Perceptual and Motor Skills 93: 356-358.
Krashen, S. and Hastings, A. 2011. Is Phonemic Awareness Training Necessary in Second Language Literacy Development? Is it Even Useful? International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 7(1).

Self-selected free reading: Krashen, S. (2004).The Power of Reading. Portsmouth: Heinemann and Westpost: Libraries Unlimited.
Krashen, S. 2007. Extensive reading in English as a foreign language by adolescents and young adults: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 3 (2): 23-29.
Sullivan, Alice and Brown, Matt. 2013. Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies,
Institute of Education, University of London   www.cls.ioe.ac.uk

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