The Whole Language Chameleon

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Susan Godsland
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The Whole Language Chameleon

Post by Susan Godsland » Sun May 11, 2014 1:21 pm

The latest 'Horatio Speaks' blog posting 'A Convergence of Interests?' has brought the research and controversy behind Reading Recovery to the attention of many in the education community who were, perhaps, previously unaware of it.
http://horatiospeaks.wordpress.com/2014 ... interests/
The government has invested considerable funds via the EEF to run randomized controlled trials. One of the RCT evaluations recently released by the EEF was for a programme called Switch-On Reading. What is not apparent in the headline, but appears later in the report, is that the programme is in fact a repackaging of Reading Recovery, which is now being aimed at students at the transition between Key Stages 2 and 3.
Reading Recovery (RR) is a 1-1 intervention (Wave/Tier 3) programme which uses ''word memorisation and other teaching practices from the 'whole language theory of reading'' (HoC Sci/Tech committee).
It is taught by extensively (and very expensively) trained teachers, never TAs, and is used with a very narrow age group; children in Y1. Note that, '(T)eacher judgement of need determines entry to the programme' (Rose 2009 p63). In an article for the Independent, National Co-ordinator for RR, Julia Douetil, claimed that, "These are children for whom, for some reason, phonics hasn't worked" (Independent 30/10/08).
Over the course of a year the school's RR teacher will give a handful of children individual tutoring for half-an-hour daily; around 90-100 sessions for each child. Despite this massive input, a significant number (23% RR's own figures) of children are failed by the programme and are 'referred on' i.e. need further intervention.
Documents on the then DCSF's RR 'Toolkit' webpage revealed that it cost a school £82,830 to employ an RR teacher part-time (0.5) for 4 years. Using RR's own figures which have each teacher tutoring 9 pupils a year, RR costs over £2,600 per child. Independent researchers put the cost closer to £5,000.
Because of the extremely high cost of implementing Reading Recovery, many cheaper copies have appeared which are based on exactly the same 'multi-cueing' principles. Though the RR programme itself is copyright, keeping to an unalterable framework, RR spin-offs, it seems, are exempt and can alter some aspects of the original programme such as the age-group targetted, the number of students able to be be tutored at one time, the length of lessons and the teaching qualifications of the tutor. Tutor training for RR-clones is considerably shorter too, reducing from a year down to a few days. The only part of the RR framework which is always retained is the use of multi-cueing to 'read' text in a series of 'leveled' books.

In a 2009 speech, Sir Jim Rose confirmed what leading UK and International reading experts had said all along*, that Reading Recovery (RR) is 'a multi-cueing, non-systematic approach' (Rose.Presentation to Speld Australia).
Despite RR being way out of line with the 2006 Rose report recommendations and despite their earlier promises, inexplicably, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) continued to encourage and fund schools to use RR as a Wave 3 intervention for Y1 children, AND recommended that they 'layer' RR (see 2009 flyer below) with a range of other mixed method interventions, all found under the Every Child a Reader (ECaR) mantle. In this way the then DCSF continued to endorse mixed methods and effectively ensured that the multi-cueing strategies became institutionalised in many schools.

DCSF's ECaR flyer:Every Child a Reader: the layered approach. 2009.
https://www.school-portal.co.uk/GroupDo ... Id=2816598)

Chris Singleton was a key contributor to the now archived, DCSF-commissioned, Rose report on Dyslexia (Rose. 2009). On the subject of Reading Recovery, he said, ''Only 12%–15% of Reading Recovery children completing their programmes between 2003 and 2007 achieved a Level 2a or above in Key Stage 1 Reading National Curriculum assessments, the level at which children can tackle unfamiliar words and have therefore developed a self-sustaining word recognition system'' (Singleton 2009 p11)

Singleton also pointed out that Reading Recovery measured children's progress using the BAS-II word reading test; 6yrs.7mths ''was the average reading age of only those children who responded well to Reading Recovery''. Singleton added that a child can achieve a RA of 6.7 on BAS-II ''with knowledge of only a few words'' as ''only 21 words on the test have to be read correctly, which can be easily achieved by a child who has memorised some very high frequency common words (e.g.the,up,you,at,said,out) and knows and can use single letter sounds, plus the simple digraphs 'sh' and 'th'' (Singleton p117)

http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/files/Sin ... Report.pdf

Parliament's all-party Science and Technology committee also questioned the use of Reading Recovery (and other whole language intervention programmes -see below):
Dec 2009. Evidence Check on Early Literacy Interventions http://www.publications.parliament.uk/p ... 4/4405.htm

Having checked all the evidence, the committee said: ''Teaching children to read is one of the most important things the State does. The Government has accepted Sir Jim Rose's recommendation that systematic phonics should be at the heart of the Government's strategy for teaching children to read. This is in conflict with the continuing practice of word memorisation and other teaching practices from the 'whole language theory of reading' used particularly in Wave 3 Reading Recovery. The Government should vigorously review these practices with the objective of ensuring that Reading Recovery complies with its policy''.

*''Several years ago, a letter was sent to members of the U.S. Congress with 31 signatures of the top researchers in the field of reading urging Congress to suspend support for RR because independent research showed the method had no effect. It is extremely costly to implement, re teacher training, tutoring time, and materials. Not only this, but RR "research" is notorious for misrepresenting the data. In a recent publication by the Institute of Education, the same problems appear. 1. Nearly half of the children from the 145 strong "RR-tutoring group" were dropped from the study at post-testing, while the control group remained intact. (Barely a mention of this, and no attempt to solve the problem this creates.) 2. The RR group received individual tutoring, the control group got none. One could go on. The published paper bears the hallmarks of a bona fide "scientific" journal, until a closer inspection reveals it is published by Reading Recovery. No chance for an impartial peer review process here'' (Memorandum submitted by D. McGuinness (LI 13) To HoC)

In 2011 the formerly ring-fenced ECaR funding was incorporated into the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). This means that schools can continue to choose to use ineffective, non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programmes with their struggling readers. Most schools using Reading Recovery previous to the funding change have simply moved to 'cheaper to implement' close copies of RR (see below), if they weren't already using them as part of the ECaR 'layered approach'

''Boosting Reading Potential (BRP) has now been rebranded and significantly updated. There are now two versions of the programme: boostingreading@primary (BR@P) and boostingreading@secondary (BR@S)'' BRP is a Wave 2 non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme ''developed by Bradford Local Education Authority (LEA) in 1996 and is based on the Reading Recovery Programme''...''The reading partner notes the child's use of the three BRP reading strategies: grapho-phonic (visual), syntactic (structure) and semantic (meaning). Weaknesses are addressed through prompts: "Does that look right?", "Does that sound right?", and "Does that make sense?" (Dunford.LiteracyTrust) ''BoostingReading@Primary is recognised as an effective intervention by the European Centre for Reading Recovery at the Institute of Education, University of London, and is included in Every Child a Reader''
http://www.educationworks.org.uk/what-w ... ntial.html

Catch Up Literacy is a Wave 3, non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme. http://www.catchup.org
Dee Reid, 'the lead literacy consultant to Catch Up', gives the following advice to the mum of a struggling reader age 10:
''If Jayden gets stuck on a word, tell him what the word is and then ask him to repeat it. Give him a clue to remind him how to remember the word next time, e.g. ‘It’s in the picture’ or ‘Look at the letters at the beginning’' (Catch Up Newsletter Sept 2011) The Australian brochure http://www.catchup.org/Portals/3/CU downloads/L1 Brochure (Australia).pdf makes it clear that Catch Up Literacy is a Reading Recovery clone: ''Makes use of all ‘recommended’ teaching approaches. Whole language approach covering reading, writing, spelling and handwriting, Complements ‘Reading Recovery’(enabling pupils to gain support in later years)''

A comparison of the recommendations of the Rose Report and Catch Up programme training: http://www.rrf.org.uk/archive.php?n_ID= ... eNumber=60

OUP's Project X CODE intervention programme (for Y2-4 Wave 2).
With its simplistic 'embedded' phonics content, miscue analysis assessment, inclusion of pseudo words (some with illegal spellings) and highly illustrated, text-LITE readers, some cynics would say CODE seems to have been deliberately designed to appeal to SENCos and teachers who prefer mixed methods (and certainly don't understand synthetic phonics) but need an intervention with a superficial synthetic phonics 'gloss' in order to satisfy Ofsted when they next come visiting. CODE was never included in the DfE's synthetic phonics match-funding catalogue, perhaps because it didn't meet the independent assessors' criteria for a systematic synthetic phonics programme.
According to OUP, ''Project X CODE was trialled with 61 children in Years 1 to 4 in 11 schools in 8 local authorities in 2012. After only 2½ months of support, they had made an average of 8 months of progress on a standardised reading test''
This research was critiqued by Prof. McGuinness. She said, ''The so-called "research results" from this project are a sham'' http://www.rrf.org.uk/messageforum/view ... f=1&t=5467
Despite excluding CODE from the synthetic phonics catalogue http://www.pro5.org/phonics/, in Oct. 2012 the DfE approved CODE's use as part of the 'Reading Support' initiative https://readingsupport.edgehill.ac.uk/e ... t-is-rs-2/ The Reading Support initiative is a financial tie-up between the DfE, Edge Hill University (who provide training) and ''the Institute of Education for Reading Recovery''. Caution -don't confuse CODE with Project X Phonics, which was in the DfE match-funding catalogue.

Pearson-Heinemann's 'Rapid Reading' is a KS2 Wave 3, non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme.
http://www.pearsonschoolsandfecolleges. ... ading.aspx
The series editors, Dee Reid and Diana Bentley, also devised the 'Catch Up Literacy' programme -see above.
Caution -do not confuse Rapid Reading with Pearson's Rapid Phonics intervention programme

http://www.readingquest.org.uk/
''Reading Quest is inspired by Marie Clay’s Reading Recovery programme''

Fischer Family Trust (FFT) Wave 3. http://www.literacy.fischertrust.org/index.php/wave3 is another non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme. ''It is based on the pedagogy and practice of Reading Recovery''.

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Susan Godsland
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Re: The Whole Language Chameleon

Post by Susan Godsland » Mon May 12, 2014 10:14 am

Would seem appropriate to put Hempenstall's comprehensive report on multi-cueing here:

The three cueing system in reading: will it ever go away?
http://nifdi.org/news-latest-2/blog-hem ... er-go-away

Derrie Clark
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Re: The Whole Language Chameleon

Post by Derrie Clark » Wed May 14, 2014 8:20 am

This is really useful Susan. Thank you.

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