In the inaugural edition of the Reading League Journal, Jennifer Buckingham (2020) identifies six benefits of using teaching strategies guided by scientific evidence.
- Earlier and more accurate word reading
The research clearly shows that accurate word reading is achieved successfully and quickly through the systematic and explicit teaching of phonics.
- Better reading fluency
To be a fluent reader you need to be able to accurately decode text with speed and prosody. This requires being able to automatically recognize the sounds represented by different letters and letter combinations and sufficient practice at combining these into a single word which are then stored in long-term memory via a process of orthographic mapping enabling the word (and an ever increasing number of other words) to be easily recognized.
- Vocabulary growth
Vocabulary development occurs as a result of exposure to rich oral language, quantity of reading (the greater the volume of reading the greater a child’s vocabulary), background knowledge of a large range of topics and the explicit teaching of vocabulary.
- Adept reading comprehension
For most typically developing readers, provided with early reading instruction based on science (i.e., proficient decoding skills and the nurturing of a rich vocabulary), reading comprehension is not a problem. Poor decoding skills and a poor vocabulary are the two key reasons children perform poorly on comprehension assessment. There is some evidence that a small number of students will benefit from the explicit teaching of comprehension strategies, but these should be supplementary to developing decoding skills, vocabulary and background knowledge.
- More independent reading and enjoyment of reading
It makes sense that children who find reading easy because they have been taught how to decode are more likely to enjoy reading and, in an upward spiral, read more. Enjoyment of reading is strongly and positively related to academic achievement across the curriculum.
- Fewer children needing intervention
Approximately 80-85% of children will learn to read well if provided with evidence-based reading instruction from a quality teacher. Around 20% of children will require tailored intervention and of these 5% will have a severe reading difficulty and require specialized, individual and on-going intervention from a teacher with specialist knowledge of the reading process.
Interestingly, 19% of Australian students and 17% of US students do not meet the proficiency reading benchmarks in Year 4. This is three times more students than would be expected on the basis of cognitive issues which means that the majority of struggling readers are ‘instructional casualties’.
Do not let your child become an ‘instructional causality’. If you have any concerns at all about your child’s literacy development, the sooner you seek intervention using an explicit phonic-based program (i.e., scientific based instruction), the more likely your child will become a successful reader.
Buckingham, J. (2020). Six reasons to use the science of reading in schools. The Reading League Journal,1(1), 13-17.