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The road to federal reforms. Michael C. McKenna University of Virginia. Sharon Walpole University of Delaware. is a long and winding one… Let’s start at the beginning. 1600s. John Locke proposes precursor of synthetic phonics by having children build words with letter dice.

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The road to federal reforms

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    1. The road to federal reforms Michael C. McKenna University of Virginia Sharon Walpole University of Delaware

    2. is a long and winding one… Let’s start at the beginning.

    3. 1600s • John Locke proposes precursor of synthetic phonics by having children build words with letter dice. • Reading and spelling are taught together

    4. 1700’s • Word-building approaches continue. • “Reading Wars” begin, in effect, when Rousseau attacks Locke’s methods and recommends relying on motivation.

    5. People make a great fuss about discovering the best way to teach children to read. They use desks and cards and turn a child’s room into a print shop. Locke would teach them to read with dice. Now is that not a clever idea! What a pity! A means surer than all of these … is simply the desire to learn. Give the child this desire, and you can forget your desks and your dice – any method will be good enough. Jean Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762

    6. 1786 • Noah Webster publishes The American Spelling Book (actually a revision of his previous work) • Multi-leveled • Reading and spelling • are taught together

    7. 1800s William McGuffey • Reading and spelling remain linked. • Phonics is emphasized in the McGuffey Readers. • Reading Wars continue as Horace Mann ridicules phonics and recommends a meaning-based approach. Horace Mann

    8. Letters are “bloodless, ghostly apparitions.” Horace Mann

    9. 1st Half of 20th Century • Modern basals take shape and phonics emphasis declines. • Importance of automatic word recognition of high-frequency words is recognized. • Dolch word list published in 1936. • Spelling taught separately and deemphasized.

    10. 1940s and 50s • “Look-Say” approach is dominant, emphasizing sight word acquisition. • Phonics is minimized. • Basal stories stress repetition of high-frequency words. • Dick and Jane are born but refuse to grow up.

    11. Why do you think these pendulum swings have occurred? Can we stop the pendulum in the middle? If so, would that constitute “balance”?

    12. What do you know about “Balanced Reading”?

    13. What are we trying to balance? • Isolated skills instruction with meaning- driven reading and writing? • Teacher-driven curriculum with state-controlled curriculum? • Phonics with whole language? • Small-guided reading with whole-class basal instruction? • Authentic, teacher-administered assessment with standardized testing?

    14. What is whole language anyway? Whole language is an approach to literacy education that emphasizes natural development of literacy competence. Immersion in real literature and daily writing is favored over explicit teaching of basic reading skills. Skills instruction occurs in whole language classrooms on an as-needed basis only, and then only in the context of real reading and writing, rather than as a focal point of instruction. Pressley, M. (2002). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching. New York: Guilford Press.

    15. To be honest, it took me a long time to learn a lesson most researchers and school administrators have not yet learned: no research study, no brilliant discovery, no book, no seminal article, no journal, no program, no policy, no mandate, no law can change what happens to kids in our schools. Only teachers can do that. Goodman, K. (1992). I didn’t found Whole Language. Reading Teacher, 46, 188-199.

    16. What is the phonics argument? Learning to read is not a “natural” process. Most children must be taught to read through a structured and protracted process in which they are made aware of sounds and the symbols that represent them, and then learn to apply these skills automatically and attend to meaning. Moats, L. C. (2000). Whole Language lives on: The illusion of “balanced” reading instruction. Washington, D.C.: Fordham Foundation.

    17. Where should we stand? • Outside of the argument? • In the middle? • On both sides?

    18. Plan • Description/characteristics of seminal studies and policy responses

    19. Big Issues • What do we “know” about development, curriculum, instruction? • What does it mean to know? • How much control should the government have? • How much freedom should teachers and schools have?

    20. Now back to memory lane …

    21. 1955 • Rudolph Flesch publishes Why Johnny Can’t Read • Theoretical but popular book about the need for phonics instruction

    22. Sputnik, 1957 Russians launch first artificial satellite • Space race is born • “Missile gap” develops, favoring USSR • American paranoia soon focuses on education • Reader’s Digest publishes “Can Ivan Read Better than Johnny?”

    23. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 Title I: One billion dollars of federal money to improve reading and math skills of poor children

    24. Chall, 1967 Learning to read: The great debate • Private funding • Research synthesis plus observations and interviews • Concluded that research supports a “code emphasis” in beginning reading • Balanced approach, with phonics for beginning and struggling readers

    25. Bond & Dykstra (1967/1997) Guy Bond The First-Grade Studies (RRQ) • Federally funded studies at multiple sites • Experimental design, but problematic • Key findings: • Phonics better than no phonics • Teachers more important than programs

    26. NAEP, 1969 National Assessment of Educational Progress • Large-scale federal assessment program begins • Stratified sample is tested in reading, math, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, and the arts • Results are reported for the nation as a whole, for large regions, for ethic groups, genders, etc. • Results are NOT reported by state, district, or school • NAEP is therefore not high stakes.

    27. CSR, 1976 Center for the Study of Reading founded • Federally funded • Main mission was to conduct research into reading comprehension • Located at the University of Illinois • Underscored the notion of “strategic reading” • Still exists, but without federal funding

    28. Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985 Becoming a nation of readers • Published by CSR • Best-selling reading book of all time • Supported a balanced approach, including both phonics and read-alouds, both reading and writing Dick Anderson

    29. Adams, 1990 Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print • Federally funded • Research synthesis • Summary published by CSR in 1990 • Early establishment of alphabetic principle; coordination of orthographic, phonological, semantic, and syntactic processors

    30. NRRC, 1992 National Reading Research Center founded • Federally funded • Main mission was to conduct research into reading engagement • Shared by University of Georgia and University of Maryland • Ended its five-year span in 1997 Steve Stahl, UGA John Guthrie, UMD

    31. NAEP, 1992 National Assessment of Educational Progress • Federal assessment program publishes state results for the first time • California, spearhead of whole language in America, finishes near last in NAEP Reading, a result that demographics cannot explain. • Whole language is blamed, perhaps simplistically, for California’s plight. • Bill Honig, California state superintendent, leaves office and becomes phonics-firster. Bill Honig

    32. NAEP, 1992 Whole language died of natural causes in California Steve Stahl

    33. CIERA, 1997 • Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement founded in 1997 • Federally funded • Focus on beginning reading • Library of reports is still online ( • Consortium of five universities: • Michigan, Michigan State, Virginia, Georgia, Southern Cal P. David Pearson

    34. Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998 Catherine Snow Preventing reading difficulties in young children • Federally funded panel • Research synthesis • Included context (home and school) • Phonemic awareness and phonics, especially for children at risk of failure

    35. Reading Excellence Act of 1998 • Clinton administration’s reform legislation, based on 1997 priority that “all students will read independently and well by the end of third grade.” • $260 million in state grants • Professional development • Instructional materials • Assessments • Scientifically based reading research/instruction

    36. Process • State Grants • Expert Reviews • Local Grants (Each year had a deadline for applications; failed applications were sent back for rewriting until the next year’s competition; there was no guarantee of funding.)

    37. National Reading Panel, 2000 • Federally funded through National Institutes of Health and Human Development • Research synthesis, limited to experimental and quasi-experimental methodology • Subgroup reports in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, teacher education, and technology

    38. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Reauthorization of ESEA of 1965) • Annual spending of 12 billion dollars for Title I • 1.9 billion to the states in Reading First (professional development, curriculum materials, assessments, evaluations)

    39. No Child Left Behind: A primer

    40. What do you know about NCLB?

    41. NCLB • NCLB became law in 2002 • New federal moneys to the states • Historically, 90% of education spending comes from the states • Federal moneys come in the form of categorical grants which the states can accept or decline, such as IDEA • New federal involvement in education

    42. Structure of the law

    43. Structure of the law

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