Reading Recovery given going over in TES

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Hammered
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Reading Recovery given going over in TES

Post by Hammered » Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:35 pm

No web-link but on p3 of todays TES a whole page article about Queensland dropping RR and questioning use in the UK.

Kevin Wheldall, director of Macquarie University's special education centre eloquently puts foward weaknesses of the programme.

"...The logic of employing RR as a solution for pupils who have struggled to learn to read following phonics instruction is almost wilfully peverse - a triumph for hope over experience. These are precisely the children for whom RR works least well...If initial reading instruction based on synthetic phonics were implemented seriously, then the need for RR - or indeed any other early literacy programme - would be hugely reduced..."

Jean Gross responds in the article, mentioning IoE research about 75% achieving Level 4 in KS2 SATS.

Worth looking at if you get a chance.

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Post by g.carter » Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:07 am

Thanks! Has the TES got a new editor? Perhaps a new day has dawned - on second thoughts that expression has unfortunate echoes.... but what a difference it would make if TES did start to seriously open up the debate.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:57 am

Jean Gross seems to be such a high-profile and well-meaning lady. If only she could really see the light and understand more about the damage of teaching reading through a mixed methods approach.

We have not, as yet, had any direct evidence that the Reading Recovery teacher-training and practices have changed in the light of the Rose Report.

These things take time, but whilesoever the Every Child A Reader programme continues to give Reading Recovery a further 'leg-up' and produce glossy, expensive reports, then we continue to be up against clear and honest comparing of approaches.

What strikes me over and over again, is that certain individuals have influence over and above the science of the situation - and continue to get away with it.

The Rose Report rejects the type of 'reading strategies' encapsulated in the Reading Recovery approach. This is, to my knowledge, not properly being thrashed out by the education profession as a whole.

It appears as if the entrenched position of Reading Recovery and the influence of money and power remains in the driving seat.

This would imply that until we have different figures with strong political, financial and educational influence, there will continue to be this fudge of what is really 'the best' intervention approach.

I find it quite galling that figures such as Gordon Brown and Ed Balls - who are not trained and long-standing teachers - can hold sway over what programme does or does not get promoted.

We now have a government-provided set of criteria to evaluate reading programmes which has not been fully applied to many of the prevailing intervention programmes.

When will intervention programmes be under scrutiny in the same way that schools are expected to evaluate their first time teaching programmes?

When, and how, will the government be held to account for its continued 'mixed messages' to the teaching profession and parents?

I am aware of an increasing number of teachers, teaching assistants, education psychologists and others questioning the choice of intervention programmes and highlighting the contradictory advice regarding the teaching approach.

To my knowledge, not one of the queries raised has actually been addressed properly at all.

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Post by g.carter » Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:40 pm

I presume that Jean Gross is far from being unintelligent. But as one of the authors, I understand, of the damaging Playing With Sounds she must surely see the damage of this 'improved' version of PIPs ?
She was also at the Phonics Conference in 2003 where it was stated very clearly (from reports I've heard) that multi-cueing is DAMAGING.
Her former education authority, Bristol, is languishing almost at the bottom of the whole heap of failing schools . There were good initiatives in Bristol; they simply weren't carried through. What a sad and sorry tale. But hey, this is a very prestigeous post.

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Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:55 pm

Today's TES has a very heavily edited version of this letter written by RRFer Maggie Downie:

Sir,

I am glad that at last an influential Education publication has devoted some space to an academic who strongly doubts the efficacy of Reading Recovery. As Kevin Wheldall speaks from the Australian experience, where Reading Recovery has a far greater hold than it does, at present, in the UK, we would do well to listen to him. Why reinvent the wheel when others with far greater first hand knowledge can tell you that square ones won't turn?

The recent history of reading instruction in the UK seems to have been presided over by a malignant fairy, determined that any attempt to introduce an evidence based pedagogy, which will ensure that the greatest number of children possible will learn to read effectively, will be doomed to failure by mixing in with it enough of the methods which have failed children in the past to ensure that this is not achieved.

When the NLS was devised those on the advisory panel who advocated systematic, explicit phonics instruction were overruled and we were given the lethal Searchlights, in which, though 'phonics' played a part, an overemphasis on 'other strategies', such as guessing from pictures, initial letters and context led to confused and muddled children, who still failed to learn to read. As Professor Tymms of Durham University has pointed out, even the apparent initial improvement in reading at the beginning of the NLS was actually made by children taught to read pre-NLS and the initial gains soon flattened out to leave a consistent figure of around 20% of children who left KS2 reading at below the expected level for their age.

This figure was of sufficient concern to the Government to initiate the Rose Review into the initial teaching of reading. . However, before Rose had reported his findings Reading Recovery had obtained substantial funding from the charity, KPMG, and the go ahead to introduce Reading Recovery into schools. At the same time that Rose was publishing his findings in his Final Report; that children learn to read best with systematic, explicit phonics instruction, first and only, and that the Searchlights strategy was erroneous, the Government was announcing support and taxpayers' funding for Reading Recovery. Was no effort made to examine the pedagogy on which Reading Recovery is based to ascertain that it conformed to the conclusions of, and advice given, in the Rose Report? It appears not. In fact, it is clear from their publications and publicity (such as Teachers TV films) that their teaching does not conform to the requirements of the Rose Report; they continue to teach the mix of strategies which bedevilled the old NLS and which failed to raise the level of reading competence in the UK.

Reading Recovery will claim that they have incorporated explicit phonics instruction into their programme, but a look at their latest ECAR report shows that they still teach 'other strategies', and, given the nature of the RR sessions, where phonics teaching is 'incidental, rather than structured and systematic, I cannot see how they ever will be able to satisfy the requirements of the Rose Report.

There is a determined effort being made by the DCFS to highlight Reading Recovery. It is given prominence in their publications and at LA level there is pressure on schools to implement it. Professor Greg Brooks, in the latest edition of 'What works for children with literacy difficulties' (Dec 2007), is at pains to point out that Reading Recovery, despite being extremely expensive for schools to implement, could be a worthwhile intervention. This despite the fact that it was by no means the most effective intervention reported. The most effective intervention reported was a text to speech computer based programme which will cost a school about £50 and which can be successfully delivered by a TA over a period of some 12 -13 hours (in contrast with Reading Recovery which takes some 50 hours of expensive teacher time). I do not understand why a special case had to be made for Reading Recovery.

The success of the new DFCS guidance document, Letters and Sounds is evident from a look at the TES Early Years forum. Early Years teachers are reporting better progress for all children than they have ever had before. It is a scandal that, at a time when all children at last have a chance to learn to read, the waters are being muddied by the imposition of an intervention programme which has been the focus of international concern among academics concerned with all aspects of teaching reading and which uses methods which go against DSCF guidelines.

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Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:23 pm

A link to the original story (18th Jan) is available now:

Academic pours scorn on Reading Recovery gains

http://www.tes.co.uk/search/story/?story_id=2567911

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Post by elsy » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:39 pm

Well done Maggie. :grin:

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Post by maizie » Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:46 pm

What is so very irritating is that the main thrust of the argument; that it is the teaching method of RR that is at fault, has been neatly edited to just about nothing in TES. :mrgreen:

Is that the bit that nobody, not even TES, wants to address? Certainly the DCSF seems to see no contradiction in what they are simultaneously promoting.

I wonder if anyone really cares?

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Post by g.carter » Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:39 pm

Very disappointing editing - apart from the fact that teaching instruction was no longer in the frame - the editing had flattened the whole tone of the original.
What Works Clearinghouse in the States - there is some creditable explanation somewhere - D'ed Reckoning possibly - which explains how RR got there - will dig it out.

Who cares, indeed.

The government has to keep spinning its Balls.
The Civil Service is kept busy trying to keep all its balls in the air.
The rest of the DCSF lacks the balls to do anything and has to maintain its jobs - it's pretty cold on the outside, especially with pensions evaporating into thin air.
Headteachers, Senior Teachers come from a culture of Whole Language - and as long as it's possible to place blame firmly at the door of feckless parents the government laps it up and produces more initiatives.
No-one takes responsibility or is accountable, and Ministers take on the job just long enough to begin to master their brief - but not long enough to understand that the very people at the top of the Edusystem whom they turn to for advice, are those who have wrought such devastation in the first place.

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Post by maizie » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:35 pm

There's this, Geraldine:

http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/2007/ ... tment.html

But I know that somewhere there was a comparison of the What Works Clearing house with another, similar, organisation. It may have been posted on RBG3. It did demonstrate that the WWCH scrutiny is less than rigorous.

There's reference to critical articles about the WWCH in this blog. They were published in Education Week last January. You need to be subscriber to view their archive, though.

http://blog.concord.org/archives/18-The ... house.html

Happy hunting!

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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sat Jan 26, 2008 1:43 pm

Well done, Maggie.

This is particularly close to your heart because you teach secondary-aged pupils whom previous teachers failed to teach (well enough).

It wasn't the fault of the teachers so much as the fault of the 'teaching' and the fault of an overloaded curriculum.

I have been in a teaching scenario where I had great difficulty time-tabling and delivering synthetic phonics teaching to address the state of semi-literacy (or 'illiteracy' in some cases) because of being told to plan to account to the appropriate year level (at that time Y5/6) of the National Literacy Strategy.

Y5/6 level literacy is very sophisticated - very much 'higher-order' content. This is not what the majority of the children needed. They needed the very basics - and accelerated at that!

If you could only know the difficulties I had to address this planning expectation and challenging 'the system'. If I had difficulties despite my experience etc., heaven help the next teacher in a similar scenario!

The RRF knows that people of all ages CAN be taught to read - it is often that they just HAVEN'T been taught to read (and spell).

The diet that these children have had has been mixed methods - pretty much the Reading Recovery diet then.

Dearie me. :cry:

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Subject

Post by JIM CURRAN » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:43 am

Thanks for the links Maizie, the d- edreckoning piece makes for good reading.

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Reading Recovery then and now

Post by MonaMMcNee » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:56 am

First it was just “phonics”, then we needed to differentiate between our synthetic and “their” analytic. About ten years ago I sat in on a morning of Reading Recovery, and it was top-down, “for meaning”. The teacher (a lovely teacher otherwise) started with a book, took a sentence on a long strip of paper and cut it up into words. The pupil learned words (“learned?) one at a time. (How much has RR changed in response to the Rose Report? It would need to do a U-turn, and then would hardly still be RR.)
In contrast synthetic phonics involves letters-and-sounds AND BLENDING. This is the key ingredient missing from RR. You learn words one at a time. If you learn a digraph and blending, this unlocks hundreds of words, so that a year of RR may with, say, ten words a week, give you 400 words (school year is 40 weeks) but a digraph+blending unlocks hundreds of words – say 20,000 at year-end.
If at this late stage a teacher does not understand that in phonics blending is ESSENTIAL, the teaching will be unrewarding, the learning costly, slow and minimal.

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Subject

Post by JIM CURRAN » Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:22 pm

Educating our young people is a complex process. Middle- class parents keep a close eye on their children’s education and when schools get it wrong, they take matters into their own hands, usually by moving in to the private sector or paying a tutor. Disadvantaged children don’t have this safety net, when the system fails them there’s usually no coming back.

Like all government ministers, the Minister for Education depends on his advisers and unfortunately as Geraldine, Debbie and others on this board have pointed out these advisers who wield huge influence have a background in education that is deeply constructivist.

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Post by A Haimes » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:24 pm

I find it interesting to learn that Reading Recovery lessons seem to be conducted differently depending on where they are in the world. Mona tells us that the RR teacher she observed cut up a sentence from a book whereas when I was trained we only cut up the story the child had written.

In each writing component, one objective of the RR teacher was to make sure that the child was directed to an analogy of a word, rather than any phonics.

For example, if the child wanted to write "bike" the teacher may ask "Do you know another word that sounds like that?" Hopefully the child will say "like" and then the teacher will ask the child to write "like" and then make the changes to write the word "bike".

The child is not directed to the reasons why words are spelt the way they are. During PD sessions, whenever I suggested that we become more explicit in our approach to this, I was 'verbally attacked' from many directions. Those were interesting days! It was a time a great learning and searching for a better way.

Of course, it was the phonic approach that saved my students from RR! My results were consistently higher than other RR teachers and when questioned regarding this, it was decided that it was because I taught at a private school. This was not the case because many of my students started as low as other schools, having come from teachers embedded in the whole language approach.

Interestingly, my end of year data was not included in the RR data due to the fact it was from private education. It would have been beneficial for it to be included as it would have pushed up the regional averages.

In many ways I am grateful for my years in RR because it made me become more critical and question the way we teach children read and write. Each PD session we would watch 2 RR teachers teach their students. Many times, I would cringe at the approach because I knew there was an easier way. It did not surprise me that these children were unable to maintain their gains due to the guessing directed to by the teacher and just how much the teacher did for the child, in spite of the focus on independence.

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