Effective Reading Instruction in the Early Years of School (2017) Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation

This paper summarises the research regarding why the five elements of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension are important, as well as how they should be taught in the classroom. The paper examines each of these five elements individually in the sequence they should be taught, bearing in mind that each element is interconnected and that accomplished reading requires mastery of all of them. The final section considers how reading instruction is currently incorporated into Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs in NSW.

Cognitive load theory: Research that teachers really need to understand

Cognitive load theory is a theory of how the human brain learns and stores knowledge. It was recently described by British educationalist Dylan Wiliam as ‘the single most important thing for teachers to know’. Grounded in a robust evidence base, cognitive load theory provides theoretical and empirical support for explicit models of instruction.

Evaluation of the Trial of the UK Phonics Screening Check in South Australian Schools

Between 7 and 18 August 2017, the South Australian Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) conducted a pilot of the UK Phonics Screening Check (PSC) for Reception and Year 1 students across the state. The PSC consists of a collection of 40 real and pseudowords which were administered by teachers one-on-one with students. The structure of the PSC comprises a series of 12 simple pseudo-words, followed by 8 simple real words, 8 complex pseudo-words and 12 complex real words. DECD collected and collated the data of 4,406 students from 268 teachers across 56 primary schools. This report presents the independent evaluation of the pilot which was conducted to understand the usefulness of the PSC for school leaders and teachers with regard to their students’ phonics development.

National Year 1 Literacy and Numeracy Check Expert Advisory Panel: Advice to the Minister. April 2017

A national check of all Year 1 students in reading, phonics, and numeracy will help ensure students who are behind in their schooling are identified early and can receive the extra support they need.

 On 29 January 2017, the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, announced the establishment of an Expert Advisory Panel (the panel) to advise the Australian Government on the development and implementation of a Year 1 check in literacy and numeracy. Comprised of highly regarded academic, health, and education experts, the panel consulted with a wide variety of stakeholders and experts.

Teaching Reading, also known as National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy in Australia (2005)

The objectives of the Inquiry were to review and analyse recent national and international research about literacy teaching approaches; identify the extent to which prospective teachers are provided with reading teaching approaches and skills that are effective in the classroom and have the opportunities to develop and practise the skills required to implement effective classroom reading programs; identify the ways in which research evidence on literacy teaching and policies in Australian schools can best inform classroom teaching practice and support teacher professional learning; examine the effectiveness of assessment methods being used to monitor the progress of students’ early reading learning; and produce a report of the Inquiry’s findings in the second half of 2005 and offer best practice in effective approaches to literacy teaching and learning, both at classroom level and in the training of teachers.

National Reading Panel Report (2000) USA

This scientific report summarises the findings of the National Reading Panel, an independent panel formed by congress and led by the NICHD to evaluate evidence-based reading research in an effort to understand the best ways to teach reading. The National Reading Panel led to the Partnership for Reading, a collaborative effort by the National Institute for Literacy, the U.S. Department of Education, and the NICHD to bring the findings of evidence-based reading research to those with an interest in helping all people learn to read well.

Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading, Final Report (2006).

Also known as the Rose Report, was an influential UK report that recommended systematic synthetic phonics “be taught as the primary approach in learning to decode and encode print”. The report stressed the importance of oral language, including speaking and listening, and recommended that the multi-cueing or searchlight model of reading be replaced with the ‘simple view of reading’.

Read About It: Scientific Evidence for Effective Teaching of Reading – Dr Kerry Hempenstall & Dr Jennifer Buckingham

How children learn to read is one of the most studied aspects of education. There is a large and rigorous body of scientific evidence identifying the key elements of high quality reading instruction. The research literature also unequivocally shows that explicit instruction methods are the most effective way of teaching reading, especially for novice readers and children at-risk of reading failure. Unfortunately, these elements and methods are not consistently used in Australian classrooms, with many thousands of children failing to achieve even basic levels of literacy as a result.  This report outlines the powerful research evidence on learning to read from the 1960s to 2015 and explains how having effective, evidence-based reading instruction in every classroom, every day can substantially improve literacy levels among Australian children.

Focus on Phonics: Why Australia should adopt the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check  – Dr Jennifer Buckingham (2016)

A simple, five-minute Phonics Screening Check could identify at an early stage all of Australia’s school children who are at serious risk of struggling with reading skills.

Among English speaking countries, Australia has one of the largest proportions of children who do not achieve minimum standards in literacy by Year 4. This could be turned around if schools used explicit, systematic phonics instruction as part of their literacy teaching.

There is a strong precedent for this policy. The UK government introduced a Year 1 Phonics Screening Check in all primary schools in England in 2012. The proportion of students reaching the expected standard in the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check in England increased from 58% in 2012 to 81% in 2016.

The Check would be an effective and cost-effective measure, which would show whether phonics is being taught effectively across the country and in individual schools, and provide early identification of students who are struggling with this essential foundational reading skill.

Developing Early Literacy

A report of The National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) (2008) USA was convened in 2002 to conduct a synthesis of the scientific research on the development of early literacy skills in children ages zero to five. The panel’s primary purpose was to synthesize research to contribute to decisions in educational policy and practice that affect early literacy development and to determine how teachers and families could support young children’s language and literacy development. In addition, this evidence would be a key factor in the creation of literacy-specific materials for parents and teachers and staff development for early childhood educators and family-literacy practitioners.

Primary Framework for Literacy and Mathematics (2006)

This report mandated evidence based practice and withdrew its support of the three cueing, or searchlight strategy. The report embraced the simple view of reading: that reading is the combination of decoding and comprehension.

Whole Language Hi-Jinks. How to Tell When “Scientifically Based Reading instruction” Isn’t. Louisa Moats (2007)

In this practitioners’ guide, renowned reading expert Louisa Moats (author of the American Federation of Teachers’ Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science and an earlier Thomas B. Fordham Foundation report, Whole Language Lives On: The Illusion of “Balanced” Reading Instruction) explains how educators, parents, and concerned citizens can spot ineffective reading programs that surreptitiously hide under the “scientifically-based” banner.

Whole Language Lives on: The Illusion of Balanced Literacy

Louisa Cook Moats describes the whole-language approach; shows why it doesn’t work and how it has been disproven by careful research; and explains why it still persists in education today and what can be done about it.

Principles of instruction by Barak Rosenshine

This pamphlet presents ten research-based principles of instruction, and suggestions for classroom practice. These principles come from three sources: (a) research on how our brain acquires and uses new information; (b) research on the classroom practices of those teachers whose students show the highest gains; and (c) findings from studies that taught learning strategies to students.

Reading by six –how the best schools do it

Survey of primary schools showing how the best schools in England teach virtually every child to read.