Is Poverty Destiny?

Moderators: Debbie Hepplewhite, maizie, Lesley Drake, Susan Godsland

User avatar
palisadesk
Posts: 549
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 2:11 pm

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by palisadesk » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:40 pm

elsiep wrote:This thread is actually about Ideology v. Evidence in Education Reform; I think it got hijacked somewhere along the line ;-)
It may have veered off on a tangent, but I don’t agree the thread has been hijacked. Mona has always – and long before many others – argued for evidence-based instruction and gathering data in a scientific manner. She has seen good results from use of her program and is frustrated with the failure of the “powers that be” to give it serious consideration.

With variations, many of us have felt the same and share her sense that overall results could be much better, and that comparison studies of various instructional paradigms need to be conducted. However, it is unlikely that this will ever be done on a large scale due to the inherent difficulties in a public education setting of having a stable and consistent group (control and/or experimental) to study over a period of time, and the costs associated with trying to do so, which are extremely high. Medical studies are much more feasible because the groups do not all have to be in the same place at the same time for the “treatment,” and participants can move house or job and still be part of the study.

In the U.S., the only recent attempt to compare several reading instructional approaches (the Power4Kids study) ran out of money partway through and thus their conclusions amounted to nothing worthwhile; they truncated the instruction and bowdlerized the programs used in order to shorten the lessons. However, the attempt was honest at the start. They were going to compare a SP-like Direct Instruction program, an OG program, a computer-based program, a linguistic phonics/SP program and measure not only results but also what approaches worked best for which students based on their presenting profiles and instructional needs. Unfortunately, since they ended up providing inadequate instructional time (by ANY standard), the only conclusion they could reach was “nothing really works.”

I posted some details about this study before:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3038
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3562
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4164

Not the kind of research we need. But cost is a very real problem, as is student mobility. In many low-income areas, 10% or more of the student body change schools every month. This makes it hard to deliver, a sequenced, effective instructional program, or to measure the effects of one.

Then there is the separate question of whether there is in fact a “magic bullet” for reading instruction. Is there one program or approach that is clearly superior to all others, in all circumstances, for all ages? I suspect not, though there might be clear winners in specific categories: whole-class instruction for 5-year-old beginners, for example, or for small-group instruction of ELL children, or for individual tuition of children with low cognitive ability, with language impairment, or whatever special circumstance. We don’t have adequate research to name these, either, though studies do support specific programs for specific students in some cases. Conclusive proof is lacking.

We tend to have our own preferences, based on the successes we have had or witnessed, but it is likely a mistake to overgeneralize and think that ALL students would be better off using our preferred program. I have some sympathy for Mona’s conviction that a letter-to-sound approach, decoding, is most effective, because for years (and hundreds of students) I found such an approach (Reading Mastery, which teaches only one correspondence for each grapheme, no spelling alternatives and no letter names) to be highly effective, even with very challenged children. But it did not work for EVERY student, as is true with other programs that I have also used and found valuable (BRI, Abecedarian, Headsprout, Lippincott, the Burkards' programs, linguistic phonics programs of the 70’s, Spalding, OG, etc.)

It would be helpful to have more research data on things like sequence of correspondences introduced, whether digraphs should be introduced early and if so, which ones; whether blending is best taught using continuant sounds to start, whether a rule-based or an more inductive, pattern-based approach is most effective with challenged students, and so on.At present, the evidence on most of these matters is mixed, so those with experience teaching either beginners or strugglers have likely seen both positive and negative outcomes and have various interpretations of the reasons for them. I don’t think we will have conclusive data any time soon, though.

Debbie’s regular reminders of the importance of the synthetic phonics teaching principles are, I think, of more importance at the moment than the particulars of specific programs.

Where poverty and destiny are concerned, the results of Project Follow Through still stand as testament to the power of carefully constructed, intensive teaching of skills and knowledge to give children in poverty a boost and a chance at academic success. It doesn’t prove that the programs used are the best or only choices today, but that the genre of instruction is superior to the constructivist, discovery-type schooling often provided to low-SES children.

Two informative pieces on PFT, for those who might be unfamiliar with it:
http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~adiep/ft/adams.htm
http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~adiep/ft/watkins.htm

Susan S.
Last edited by palisadesk on Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MonaMMcNee
Posts: 603
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:11 pm

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by MonaMMcNee » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:03 pm

Thank youk Susan.
One palce where a numbe of programmes could be tested, each on is own, is in prisons. Here in UK they all us Toe byToe whoch IS ,g but drowns in non-words and is always 1-1.
Walton Jail is a reception prison where men go for 7 weeks. It would be a perfect chance to teach (say) 20 pupils in a group, not grouped, but testged for record purposes and then tested at the end. The prisoners who could read would probably improve their spelling.There could also be in the same 7 weeks each programme tested taught individually, for (say) 6 lads.
The difficulty is to get over the barreir of central government control, to allow this which would give us impartial results.
I believe ending illiteracy in prisons woudl cut teh recidivism rate markedly.
I wish....

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3663
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:34 am

I aspire to get into prisons one day to see if Phonics International can be of help. There have been a few leads but they have never come to anything because I am spread so thin with the range of things that I do therefore I have not pursued this aspiration.

If anyone reading these messages has links with a prison, or prisons, please do get in touch.

One important way that Toe-by-toe is used in some prisons is that a literate inmate can support one who needs the help.

I think programmes which could be delivered in this way are a good idea in prisons and in secondary schools.

I've been to secondary schools where volunteer sixth formers don't just listen to weaker readers read books, but actually supervise whilst they undertake the phonics activities with structured resources.

Imagine the knock-on benefit of the knowledge and understanding gained by the sixth formers in terms of when they go on to have families of their own - or become teachers themselves!

FEtutor
Posts: 348
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2004 8:24 pm
Location: London

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by FEtutor » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:40 am

I've often thought that MRI, the adult version of BRI, could be a natural choice in a prison setting. Like Toe by Toe, learners could be supported by fellow inmates as the books, rather than any tutor, deliver the instruction- have I got it right, Geraldine?- and so minimal tutor training would be necessary. The learner would not be limited to one particular tutor either, so shifts in prison population, or moving from one prison to another, need not interfere with progress.
It would be so good to see well-run comparative trials using Toe, Step, MRI, PI etc. etc.....
I'm sure any results would have an enormous effect on the delivery of adult literacy outside of prisons too.

MonaMMcNee
Posts: 603
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:11 pm

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by MonaMMcNee » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:23 am

I am glad others see the possibilities in prisons, certainly for Step by Step, one prisoner teching another.
Some yars ago I did get in touch with Walton Jail, but in the end it fellthrough. The "reason" was concern for my safety but I think people up the ladder of control heard abut it and stopped it -as they do everywhere.
Eac prison could try a different scheme ON ITS OWN.

john walker
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2003 10:46 am
Location: Buckingham
Contact:

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by john walker » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:01 pm

Just saw this http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2013 ... t-destiny/ tweeted by Diane Ravitch.
John Walker
Sounds-Write
www.sounds-write.co.uk
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

elsiep
Posts: 548
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by elsiep » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:40 am

Interesting results; but despite flagging up aspects of poverty that might lead to academic underachievement, the author focuses on the correlation between poverty and underachievement. Correlation does not imply causation. See comments after article.


elsie

kenm
Posts: 1495
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Berkshire

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by kenm » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:52 am

A good reply from Dan Laitsch:
The important thing is in presentation–poverty (the correlate) is not the cause per se, rather it is a series of other intervening variables. The problem comes when we are accused of saying, “She can’t succeed because she is poor.” The truth is, “Because she is poor, she has been subjected to lead poisoning, separation from parents, violent or otherwise cruel child abuse, inadequate nutrition, and has lacked dental and health care and the love and care of a family during the first, crucial years, and this neglect has had substantive impacts on her physically and intellectually, and that is getting in the way of her ability to succeed on standardized tests.” Quite a mouth full, but at least it focuses on issues we can tackle. We may never eliminate poverty, but we CAN make sure children have adequate health care, strengthen families and parenting skills, improve nutrition, reduce exposure to lead (and mercury, and other toxins), and deal with other indicators associated with poverty. Poor children (and any other label you want to use) CAN and DO (and WILL) learn, and they will do so more successfully if we can implement policies that address the real life outcomes of poverty
Since "intelligence" appears to be partly genetic, one possible effect that would influence the correlation is if it also influences income positively. Dodgson didn't think so; only in Looking Glass Land could people be "twice as rich AND twice as clever". Martin Gardner, in "The Annotated Alice", comments that this is one of the Red Queen's list of opposites.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

MonaMMcNee
Posts: 603
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:11 pm

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by MonaMMcNee » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:09 pm

I taught a classof chldren in a "poor" school in the bottom LEA in Britain. 70% of the pupils were on free meals.
I taught a reception class only 2-1/2 terms, to end of May but the 1999 5+ ARQ was outstanding. Compare:
1997: 100 1998: 102.4 1999 116 2000 101.

The spike of 14 points is undeniable, and the difference was that I had taught those children my Step by Step - and nothing else. I had the Literacy hour never more than 55 minutes, and the January had a bad bout of sickness illnesses (absences). And none of the children had a reading age below chron. age.

What more proof does anyon need?
I do not tell lies. The figures are there in the borough archives (unless destroyed)
The LEA has ignored this ever since, 14 years. The director sees his job as following government directives. When I tried tojust talk to a head teacher, the LEA legal people gave her advice on suing me for libel. This is a matter of power, more than learning to read.
Mona McNee

elsiep
Posts: 548
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by elsiep » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:18 pm

Unfortunately, poor reading isn't the only thing stopping people escaping poverty. If only it were that simple.

elsie

MonaMMcNee
Posts: 603
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:11 pm

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by MonaMMcNee » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:22 pm

No, but it is the factor we can tackle, at no cost, and with massive cuts in taxes - £50bn a year.
A budget of £91bn for a failed department should not go on and on.

elsiep
Posts: 548
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by elsiep » Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:14 am

Agreed.


elsie

JIM CURRAN
Posts: 3536
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 7:18 am

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by JIM CURRAN » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:49 pm

1,000 postgraduates a year 'too poor' to take up Oxford place
University's 'wealth test' said to discourage up to 15% of successful candidates as legal and political row grows.


About 1,000 students a year turn down a postgraduate place won at Oxford on academic merit because of the financial demands of study there, university figures suggest. This amounts to 15% of the 7,500 students offered a place, according to the admissions office.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/201 ... ealth-test

geraldinecarter
Posts: 993
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:40 pm

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by geraldinecarter » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:37 pm

FE – An ambition is that MRI will be helpful for tutors and volunteers involved in prison literacy programmes. The MRI Guide introduction takes only 30-60 minutes to read and then tutors/volunteers can follow SP instruction within the stories themselves.

Many functionally illiterate prisoners have some sight word vocabulary but of course lack decoding foundations, core knowledge and the ability for sustained reading.

There are so many gaps to fill and if tutors/volunteers find the MRI material straightforward and unfussy, stories stimulating, instruction clear, and record-keeping simple, then MRI will contribute to a closing of this terrible gap.

MRI has taken note of the fact that prisoners are often moved around, have many different tutors/volunteers and need records of progress to be kept on file and kept with other transferable prisoner records. For this and many other reasons, I think the comparative trials that we’d all like are a distant prospect.

It would be presumptuous to think that MRI has honed reading instruction to the same degree as BRI - the latter having had the benefit of SWRL’s distinguished research and development team conducting extensive and compelling school trials.

But we’re excited. Fingers crossed - and for programmes such as TRT and Toe by Toe that help to break down barriers.

MonaMMcNee
Posts: 603
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:11 pm

Re: Is Poverty Destiny?

Post by MonaMMcNee » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:50 pm

MRI ? Magnetic resonance imaging? Or what?
Mna M.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 42 guests