Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Invest in Libraries, Not Phonics Tests

Published in the Guardian, Feb. 2, 2017

Michael Rosen explains the difference between a phonics test and a reading test ("Dear Justine Greening, whatever happened to ‘eradicating illiteracy’? Jan. 31). In a phonics test, children pronounce words presented to them in a list.  In a reading test, children have to understand what they read. 
Of great interest is the consistent finding that heavy phonics training only helps children do better on phonics tests. It has no impact on reading tests. Research also tells us that the best way to get better on reading tests is reading: The best predictor of reading achievement, in study after study, is the amount of recreational reading children have done. 
The problem is not insufficient phonics teaching, as some claim.  It is insufficient access to books. For many children of poverty, their only source of books is the library.
Research also tells us that better libraries are associated with better reading test scores. The implication is obvious: Invest in libraries and librarians, not in phonics tests.
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

original article: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jan/31/justine-greening-literacy-schools-phonics-teaching

Impact of phonics on tests.
Harris, A. and Serwer, B. 1966. The CRAFT Project: Instructional time in reading research. The Reading Research Quarterly 2: 37-57.
Garan, E. (2001). Beyond the smoke and mirrors: A critique of the National Reading Panel report on phonics. Phi Delta Kappan 82, no. 7 (March), 500-506.
Garan, E. (2002) Resisting Reading Mandates. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive decoding instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74.
Pleasure reading.
McQuillan, J. (1998). The literacy crisis: False claims and real solutions. Portsmouth: Heinemann.
Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Libraries Unlimited.
Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1): 26-36.
Lance, K. (1994). The impact of school library media centers on academic achievement. In C. Kuhlthau (Ed.) School Library Media Annual, vol. 12. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. pp. 188-197.


  1. I’ve been browsing on-line greater than three hours today, but I never discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is beautiful worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content material as you did, the net will be a lot more helpful than ever before.
    Australia education Consultants in Chennai
    New Zealand education Consultants in Chennai
    Study in Europe Consultants in Chennai
    Study in Canada Education Consultants in Chennai

  2. Big difference between speech sounds and phonics has created a very easy way to orthographically map out English.
    phonics test should be a phoneme test-
    Being able to easily pull print off the page facilitates Reading so the students can read , build vocabulary and enjoy books!
    I have tons of quotes too from all the strugglers we've saved!
    Ludicrous to continue whole language argument.