Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

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FEtutor
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Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by FEtutor » Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:47 pm


chew8
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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by chew8 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:45 pm

Thanks for this, Joan - very interesting.

I've found this, which has much more detail:

http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1425.pdf

I've done no more than read quickly through about half of it. What I've seen so far is disappointing: the phonics teaching under discussion is the rather feeble and not very synthetic kind embodied in the Early Reading Development Pilot and Communication, Language and Literacy (CLLD). They did apparently have an impact, but the impact would surely have been far greater with proper systematic s.p. The Early Reading Development Pilot is irritatingly and carelessly abbreviated to 'EDRp' rather than 'ERDp' throughout the paper. As far as I remember, it was just a speeded up version of 'Playing with Sounds', which was more analytic than synthetic.

Still, I suppose I should finish reading the study before reaching any final conclusions.

Jenny C.
Last edited by chew8 on Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

chew8
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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by chew8 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:44 am

I remembered that I'd written something about the Early Reading Development Pilot. Here it is:

http://www.rrf.org.uk/archive.php?n_ID= ... eNumber=58

Jenny C.

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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by chew8 » Mon May 02, 2016 11:26 am

I’ve now read the whole of the study by Machin et al. (http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1425.pdf) and think there are problems with it from our point of view.

The approach they regard as ‘synthetic phonics’ actually fell far short of genuine s.p. – it was the approach embodied first in the Early Reading Development Pilot (ERDP) and then in the Communication, Language and Literacy (CLLD) programme. The results may show what happens when phonics is taught a bit more energetically, but they are not genuine s.p. results.

On pages 6-7 there’s this, which gave me a clearer idea of certain developments than I’d had before:
Machin et al. wrote:At the same time as the review was taking place (before it was published), there was a pilot in 172 schools and nurseries that was principally to give intensive training to teachers on the use of synthetic phonics in early years. After the Rose report, training was rolled out to different Local Authorities (LA). The LAs were given funding for a literacy coordinator who would work intensively in about 10 schools per year but also disseminate best practice throughout the LA by offering courses. The programme was rolled out iteratively to different Local Authorities – only reaching all Local Authorities by the school year 2009/10. Thus, it was not anticipated that all schools would update their early years’ teaching overnight, even though the government guidelines had changed.
The ‘review’ mentioned in the first sentence is the Rose review, published in March 2006, and the ‘pilot’ is the ERDP. The ‘training’ then rolled out after the Rose review was published was apparently carried out by CLLD people, so not by people who had a strong commitment to genuine s.p. What is said elsewhere by Machin et al. makes it clear that a third of Local Authorities received training in 2006-7; more received training in 2008-9, and yet more in 2009-10, but these acted as control groups in the study.

The last sentence in the above extract had me a bit gobsmacked – although the CLLD programme was intended to train schools to implement the Rose recommendations underpinning the new government guidance, it was apparently always intended that there should be a time-lag before all schools implemented the recommendations. The staggered implementation enabled Machin et al. to do their comparisons, but the fact remains that genuine s.p. did not feature in these comparisons as can be seen from the CLLD training materials.

Jenny C.

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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by Elizabeth » Tue May 03, 2016 6:36 pm

This is the summary I received by email from Best Evidence in Brief:
The long-term impact of phonics instruction

A discussion paper from the Centre for Economic Performance considers the impact of the introduction of synthetic phonics in English schools.

In the wake of a major report in 2006 (the Rose review), 172 schools in 18 local authorities introduced training in synthetic phonics as part of a pilot programme. The following year, a further 32 local authorities joined a similar scheme. Another 50 local authorities joined 18 months later, and the final 50 a year after that. For each scheme, the model was very similar – a literacy consultant would provide coaching support for at least ten schools in their area. The consultant worked mainly in the Reception year (age 4-5) and Year 1 (age 6-7), but also in Year 2 and nursery.

In this new working paper, using data from the National Pupil Database, researchers have been able to assess the impact of this phased introduction. It shows a substantial leap (an effect size of more than +0.2) in children’s “communication, language and literacy” scores at age 5 when the training is introduced. This effect is maintained even after the initial year of training.

The researchers were also able to follow cohorts as they progressed through primary school to see if any initial effects lasted until age 11 (phonics teaching stopped at age 7). There were no average effects at this age for reading, a broader measure of English attainment, or maths. However, there was a persistent effect (an effect size of more than 0.1) for those classified as non-native English speakers and economically disadvantaged (as measured by free school meal status).
Elizabeth

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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by chew8 » Tue May 03, 2016 7:10 pm

I strongly recommend that people read the study itself rather than relying on second-hand reports:

http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1425.pdf

A lot depends on whether one regards the Early Reading Development Pilot (ERDP) and the Communication, Language and Literacy (CLLD) programme as genuine synthetic phonics.

Jenny C.

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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu May 05, 2016 12:51 am

I've shared a link to this thread via the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction as I think it is important for a number of reasons, see here:

http://www.iferi.org/iferi_forum/viewto ... ?f=2&t=583

chew8
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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by chew8 » Thu May 05, 2016 3:52 pm

As I’ve said, the Machin et al. study looked at short- and long-term outcomes of the Early Reading Development Pilot and the Communication, Language and Literacy Development programme. My own view is that neither promoted genuine synthetic phonics, but checking up on the details is not easy so many years later.

The ERDP ran while the Rose review was in progress, so couldn’t take account of its conclusions. For reminders of what it involved, I’m relying on what I wrote at the time in RRF newsletter 58 (2006): http://www.rrf.org.uk/archive.php?n_ID= ... eNumber=58. The quotations included there do not inspire confidence that the ERDP embodied genuine s.p.

Where CLLD is concerned, I’ve tried to reconstruct developments on the basis of what I can find on line, what I can remember, and something I’ve heard recently. Unlke the ERDP, CLLD was designed to help teachers to implement the recommendations of the Rose review. That was published in March 2006, and work must have started immediately on the CLLD materials, as they were in use in schools from September 2006. I’ve heard only very recently that someone who saw the materials at the time commented that they did not reflect an understanding of s.p. – work then started in October 2006 on the government programme published 6 months later as Letters and Sounds. It seems, therefore, that there was a rather ironical situation where CLLD had already been recognised, at least by some, as not genuine s.p. but was still up and running in schools, while a government programme to correct this was being written.

It was the results of that 2006-7 CLLD cohort (pre-L and S) that featured in the Machin et al. study. The only CLLD stuff I’ve been able to find dating from then is this:

http://www.foundationyears.org.uk/files ... _tool2.pdf

Scroll down to the section starting ‘Literacy learning environment checklist’. What is said there doesn’t strike me as showing a strong understanding of s.p. – there are too many references to ‘books with repetitive structures’, ‘high frequency words’, ‘book bands’ etc.

The only full set of CLLD materials I’ve been able to find on line is an edition dating from 2009, by which time references to L and S had been added:

http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/documents-cllconsultants.pdf

Even that 2009 edition, however, doesn’t come across as embodying genuine s.p. – see pages 90 and 92, for example.

I do think that the ERDP and CLLD increased the pace and amount of phonics teaching, and that this could have accounted for the results that Machin et al. saw. I do not think, however, that the results should be regarded as genuine s.p. results. This is a problem to do with the study itself, rather than with the way journalists have dealt with it.

Jenny C.

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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by Elizabeth » Thu May 05, 2016 8:51 pm

Thank you for the link to the report, Jenny. I have read it now. It does not explain in any detail what the children were taught.

Jenny wrote:
My own view is that neither promoted genuine synthetic phonics, but checking up on the details is not easy so many years later.

My view is the same. I have looked at Jenny's report on the Early Reading Development Pilot (ERDP) and what I have been able to find out about the Communication, Language and Literacy (CLLD) programme. Neither of them are what I would expect of synthetic phonics teaching.

The Early Reading Development Pilot includes guessing from first letter and then checking if it makes sense.

I found transcripts of CLLD lessons at http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov. ... ading_dvd/. I have looked at a few, but haven't come across any systematic teaching of letter-sound correspondence or blending sounds for reading or identifying sounds for spelling. The closest I saw was an example of saying the sounds after reading a word, but that is the wrong way round. It may be there are examples of those activities that I did not read about, but it is clear that those activities were not central to teaching in CLLD lessons. They are central to teaching in synthetic phonics lessons.

So the conclusions in the media about synthetic phonics teaching, based on this report, are not really valid.
Elizabeth

chew8
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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by chew8 » Thu May 05, 2016 9:44 pm

I think the study itself attributes the results to synthetic phonics, so media reports are accurate in that respect.

What I think has probably happened, at least with CLLD, is something like this:

The remit of CLLD was to help teachers to implement the recommendations of the Rose review. Jim Rose had basically come down in favour of s.p., and the CLLD people assumed (wrongly) that they had produced a synthetic phonics programme. When Machin et al. came to do their study, they were told that CLLD was s.p. and they simply accepted this. To know differently, they'd have needed a better understanding of s.p. than most people have. I don't think they would have had any reason for calling it s.p. if they had known that it wasn't s.p.

Jenny C.

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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by Elizabeth » Fri May 06, 2016 11:39 am

I think it is likely that no-one was deliberately inaccurate or dishonest. However, if the programme was not what we or others, including the DfE , describe as synthetic phonics, then the conclusions in the media about synthetic phonics teaching, based on this report, are not really valid.
Elizabeth

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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by chew8 » Sat May 07, 2016 10:45 am

Some of the media reports focus on the aspects of the study that reflect well on the teaching in question and some focus on the aspects that reflect less well – both those aspects are there in the study itself, but people won’t know that unless they read it, which is partly why I recommended that followers of this thread should do so.

The main issue, though, strikes me as being that both the study itself and the media attribute all outcomes, whether positive or less positive, to early synthetic phonics teaching, whereas what I know about the ERDP and CLLD makes me think that the teaching was quite a far cry from s.p. Without a real understanding of s.p., however, people will have difficulty getting their heads around this, whether they are researchers, journalists, members of the public, or those who devised the programmes in question.

Both the ERDP and CLLD did increase the amount of phonics in the mix, and the study does show that this helped children who might otherwise have struggled, which was worth doing. I see that as having some value from our point of view even if we know that the study can’t answer the question of whether genuine s.p. would have had a greater impact for more children.

Jenny C.

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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by maizie » Sat May 07, 2016 9:41 pm

I've been having a look back through our message archive and I think that comments on the following two threads, made at the time when the ERDP was running, confirm Jennie's thoughts on the nature of the phonics teaching in the project. They make quite interesting reading if people have the time.


http://www.rrf.org.uk/messageforum/view ... RDP#p12898 thread in which Susan G quotes some of the ERDP guidance

http://www.rrf.org.uk/messageforum/view ... hilit=ERDP 1st page deals with some aspects of the ERDP

Thinking back over the sequence of events I believe that the ERDP was initiated in response to Professor Brook's report on the 2003 Phonics Seminar, which Debbie reported on at the time, and to the Ed. Select committee call for an enquiry into the teaching of reading. Whether the ERDP commenced before Jim Rose started his enquiry I cannot remember. It may instead be that the ERDP was the government's response to the Select Committee's call for research on the teaching of SP.

Marlene Greenwood has kindly dug up the Brooks report which is called 'Sound sense': the phonics element of the National Literacy Strategy: https://t.co/snjCer6NP9

I don't recall us seeing or commenting on the report at the time (though my memory isn't quite what it used to be). It contains the immortal assertion, which puzzled us greatly when repeated by Ruth Kelly a few years later, that 'phonics is at the heart of the NLS'...

Edit: I note that Jenny Chew commented on a 'Teaching phonics in the National Literacy Strategy' paper in the Spring 2004 edition of the RRF Newsletter http://www.rrf.org.uk/archive.php?n_ID= ... eNumber=51 It should be noted that this is not the Brooks report linked to above. It was the paper prepared by the Dfe (or whatever it was then) in advance of the 2003 phonics seminar.

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Re: Research supports use of SP for initial teaching of reading

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sun May 08, 2016 1:52 am

I was invited to attend the 2003 DfES phonics seminar and found it to be farcical and unaccountable.

I wrote about my experience and responded to Greg Brooks' report here:

http://www.rrf.org.uk/archive.php?n_ID= ... eNumber=51

It's not that I wish to look backwards in the reading debate - but consider that Reading Recovery with its multi-cueing reading strategies is still entrenched in the Institute of Education - and the Early Literacy Support programme of the National Literacy Strategy which was so heavily criticised by the Reading Reform Foundation was largely based on 'Book Bands' and multi-cueing. But is this the type of diet that some children receive to this day for intervention?

Consider that the three-year NFER surveys of phonics commissioned by the DfE (2013 to 20115) showed that many teachers continue to demonstrate some confusion regarding multi-cueing reading strategies so that we do not have a clear picture to show that teachers provide the Systematic Synthetic Phonics Teaching Principles in full. The 20 minutes discrete phonics lesson disconnected from wider literacy was even mentioned in the 2003 DfES phonics seminar as being less than desirable.

We are moving on with the provision of systematic synthetic phonics in England - but there is still some way to go.

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