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The evidence is clear – and it’s being wilfully ignored

images I am alarmed that teachers are still doubting that a crisis exists in teaching infants to read.
I refer readers to Britain where, in a study of 150,000 children (“Sponsored Reading Failure”) Britain’s foremost researcher Martin Turner uncovered the greatest peacetime decline in reading standards since records were kept and traced the decline back to the introduction of Whole Language to beginner readers.
Slip over the border to Scotland where the Clackmananshire Longitudinal Study compared outcomes of three strategies and found that not only did the phonics-first group come out on top in almost every aspect of reading but that 10 years later, they maintain that superiority.
Just in case you have trouble thinking this is not a deliberate act of academic and bureaucratic concealment, look at Australia where our national inquiry into the teaching of reading concluded 10 years ago that a phonics-first approach produced the best outcomes and yet 10 years later still doesn’t test phonic skills. You may be surprised to learn that the home of Goodman and Whole Language, (Tucson, Arizona), conducted the massive ‘Follow Through Study’ ($2 billion in today’s money) and found Whole Language-type teaching to be among the worst of all the teaching strategies in vogue. And judge the influence of our academics when I tell you that despite this finding, 4 years later Australian academics still mandated Whole Language in Australia. I could go on with the litany of failure but let me share some data from my practice. In part of a study of 3000 consecutive children I found that, after 3 years of schooling: 44% made more than 5 errors in the sounds of the alphabet, 29% confused letter names and sounds in 3 letter words (mad misread as maid), 15% confused b/d (bog/dog), 38% repeatedly misread 3 letter words for a range of reasons,10% made repeated guess-related errors on phonetically-regular 2 syllable words (e.g. picnic/picture), 88% made repeated errors on regular 3 syllable words (Eromanga, Continent etc), 70% repeatedly showed the signature, mid-word errors of a whole word guesser on 3 letter words (big misread as bag). etc etc.
In case you are still not concerned, you should know that the above data related to those cases where both the child and parent believed that the child was an ‘AVERAGE’ reader. The data on the ‘failing readers’ was even worse.
We hear similar reports from teachers on-line and during our lectures throughout Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and Britain.
The full data-set can be seen at http://www.vasreadingecho.com ; explanatory lectures and slide shows can be found at http://www.vaslearningcentre.com
What makes you think that we haven’t got a crisis?Byron Harrison
Chairman VAS Research P/L
Tasmania
Australia
04-100-365-83

Changes are afoot ……

curiosity_catThis blog is about to undergo a massive remake. The reason for this is that it will soon be attached to our new web site. We are excited to report that our family of beta testers will begin using the new on-line assessment system this coming week. They will be reporting back to us, alerting us to any difficulties they encounter. This process will take some months, so we expect to launch the system in the first half of 2015. It has been a long time coming, but then all quality programs are.

Please, as the last act you take regarding this blog, watch the youtube link that Bob Rose kindly shared in the Guess Posts section .. thank you Bob   http://video.pbs.org/video/2365318432/

A big thank you to all of you and we hope you will stay with us through these changes. You will still be able to use our current URL – or reach us via our web page when that is set up. I will post a link when that happens.