Teaching Children to Read : The Fragile Link Between Science & Federal Education Policy

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Abstract

Teaching Children to Read (TCR) has stirred much controversy among reading experts regarding the efficacy of phonics instruction. This report, which was conducted by the National Reading Panel (NRP), has also played an important role in subsequent federal policy regarding reading instruction. Using meta-analysis, the NRP found that systematic phonics instruction was more effective than alternatives in teaching children to read. In the present study, the findings and procedures leading to TCR were examined. We concluded that the methodology and procedures in TCR were not adequate for synthesizing the research literature on phonics instruction. Moreover, we estimated a smaller though still substantial effect (d = .24) for systematic phonics, but we also found an effect for systematic language activities (d = .29) and tutoring (d = .40). Systematic phonics instruction when combined with language activities and individual tutoring may triple the effect of phonics alone. As federal policies are formulated around early literacy curricula and instruction, these findings indicate that phonics, as one aspect of the complex reading process, should not be over-emphasized.

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How to Cite
Camilli, G., Vargas, S., & Yurecko, M. (2003). Teaching Children to Read : The Fragile Link Between Science & Federal Education Policy. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 11, 15. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v11n15.2003
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Author Biographies

Gregory Camilli, National Institute for Early Education Research and Rutgers University

Gregory Camilli is Professor in the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. His interests include measurement, program evaluation, and policy issues regarding student assessment. Dr. Camilli teaches courses in statistics and psychometrics, structural equation modeling, and meta-analysis. His current research interests include school factors in mathematics achievement, technical and validity issues in high-stakes assessment, and the use of evidence in determining instructional policies.

Sadako Vargas, National Institute for Early Education Research and Rutgers University

As Assistant Professor at Kean University, and Adjunct Professor at Touro College and Seton Hall University, Sadako Vargas has taught in the areas of research methods and occupational therapy. Her interests lie in the use of meta-analysis for investigating intervention effects in the area of rehabilitation specifically related to pediatrics and occupational therapy intervention.

Michele Yurecko, National Institute for Early Education Research and Rutgers University

Michele Yurecko is a Ph.D. student in Educational Psychology with a concentration in educational measurement at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University. Her academic interests include the study of research methods and design applied to the field of education, and the intersection of educational research, testing and public policy.