A study of 300 Scottish primary school pupils suggests that those taught with explicit, systematic phonics—the letters and letter sounds that make up words—learn to read more quickly than their peers who are taught to read through less stringent methods.
“A Seven Year Study of the Effects of Synthetic Phonics Teaching on Reading and Spelling Attainment” is available online from the Scottish Executive. ()
The study followed 300 students over seven years. Those who received traditional phonics instruction advanced at least seven months ahead of others in their grade in spelling and word reading. Results were mixed, however, in reading comprehension. While by the 2nd grade the pupils learning sequential phonics performed some seven months above what is expected for their age in reading comprehension, those gains diminished by half by the 3rd grade.
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A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2005 edition of Education Week