Petition to dump Reading Recovery and Leveled Literacy Intervention

13 Replies

If you’re in Australia’s state of Victoria you might have seen yesterday’s article in The Age online about a new petition to remove Reading Recovery and Leveled Literacy Intervention from our government schools. It appears to have been bumped by election coverage yesterday, but should be in the paper version of The Age today.

The petition is backed by three leading groups which advocate for children with learning difficulties: Dyslexia Victoria Support, Code Read Dyslexia Network and Learning Difficulties Australia.

I have signed this petition and am quoted in The Age in support of it, because children with learning difficulties need programs with solid, scientific evidence behind them.

Reading scientists now know that children simply do not learn to read by memorising whole words or guessing words from pictures, context and/or first letters. Children who seem to be doing this are actually taking the words apart and figuring out how the sounds and letters work, something many kids can’t do without explicit and direct instruction.

Sounding out right through words should simply not be reserved as a strategy of last resort, as Reading Recovery’s Dame Marie Clay recommended.

The US Reading League has an excellent video online in which the very witty Dr Steve Dykstra talks about how to understand scientific research and statistics, and unpacks the “gold standard” research on Leveled Literacy Intervention and Reading Recovery.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, and your school is using Leveled Literacy Intervention, start at 52.33 on the video clock. If your school still uses Reading Recovery, start at minute 1:03:43.

The DVS/CR/LDA petition to replace Reading Recovery and Leveled Literacy Intervention is addressed to our state Education Minister, and you can read and sign it online here. It has just clocked up over 1000 signatures, so I hope many more readers of this blog will also sign and share it.

Struggling readers and their teachers deserve more effective programs.

Australians keen to learn about the most effective programs/approaches for struggling readers should attend seminars by US academic and experienced school psychologist, Dr David Kilpatrick, who will be the guest speaker for the Learning Difficulties Australia National Tour in August.

These seminars will be held in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Cairns and Sydney. Dr Kilpatrick is the author of the very accessible Essentials of Assessing, Preventing and Overcoming Reading Difficulties, so I’m looking forward to getting him to sign my dog-eared copy when he’s in Melbourne.

If you are in/near one of the seminar locations and have access to a school staff room, please print a copy or two of the relevant seminar flyer and leave it/them on the table and/or noticeboard, or otherwise circulate it to people who might be interested, to help LDA promote the tour.

Please also book early to avoid disappointment, as Legendary Kerrie, the LDA admin person, tells me some of these seminars are filling fast.

PS I was just interviewed on radio 3AW about this issue, you can hear the interview here.


13 thoughts on “Petition to dump Reading Recovery and Leveled Literacy Intervention

  1. Vera

    Hi Alison. I was just wondering what you thought about ‘Direct Instruction’ reading intervention program. Any thoughts? Also, thank you for what you do. I love reading your articles, and I have very enthusiastically recommended your website to lots of teachers.

    1. alison Post author

      Hi Vera, thanks for the lovely feedback about my daggy website and articles. I don’t know of a specific program called “Direct Instruction”, but the term was I believe coined by Seigfried Engelmann, and his programs like Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Spelling Mastery and Corrective Reading certainly work well if delivered with fidelity. However, they are not the kind of program that’s currently popular with teachers, as they’re highly scripted, and often teachers find it hard to deliver them at the right, fast pace. This is Direct Instruction with capital D.I., and you can find out more about it here:

      There is also the lower case “direct instruction”, which is a style of teaching, where the teacher teaches the learners content and skills explicitly, so it’s kind of the opposite of inquiry/discovery learning where the children wander in the wilderness trying to figure stuff out, and the teacher is merely the “guide on the side” or the “peer at the rear”, and eschews the role of the “sage on the stage”. Direct instruction is (not surprisingly) much more effective for teaching basic skills and concepts than discovery/inquiry based learning. Hope that’s helpful, all the best, Alison

  2. Mark

    Hi Alison,
    I am also a teacher of many years experience. And I appreciate that how reading is taught is a very contested area in teaching. To be successful at getting all children to read well I think the discussion needs to be broadened to…how we teach. ie how to raise student agency and teacher impact. I see the impact I am having on reading as a result of modifying my teaching practice.

  3. Mark

    Hi Alison, Sorry for the late reply.
    I don’t use a specific programme as such. I have just figured out a way that manages to get all children reading very well. It is what I call an “evidence-based approach”. I work to the needs of the students. I expose the children to a range of texts as a whole class and as individuals. The graph that is in the post is based on a simple running record assessment that teachers do throughout the year. It’s not a standardised test but does give a sufficient approximation of how the student is achieving. This may sound odd, but one of the biggest contributors to the success of my reading programme is motivation and curiosity and high expectations. It’s as much about learning design as it is about teaching reading. The cool thing is that this approach is transferable to all curriculum areas. This is what I mean in the context of numeracy.

    1. alison Post author

      But what is your grapheme-phoneme teaching sequence? You’re not doing explicit, systematic phonics, which is what the scientific evidence strongly shows is a key component of the best teaching, if you don’t follow a grapheme-phoneme (or I’d say phoneme-grapheme) teaching sequence.

  4. mark

    It’s complicated eh. “The scientific evidence strongly shows doing explicit, systematic phonics is a key component of best teaching”. In that statement I see potential for good and for harm. I mean, do you still teach phonics to students if they are reading well already? That is what I mean by evidence-based teaching. ie doing the right thing for the students depending upon their needs and circumstances. I don’t teach phonics just because some research says it’s essential. I don’t put all my effort into one programme/app/silver bullet. I am focused on developing effective pedagogy. Arguing about phonics is a zero sum game, in my opinion. I teach children how to read. They read well. I choose the approach that works. I modify as appropriate.

    1. Jan Hagedorn

      Be careful not to assume that since a student is reading that they don’t need explicit phonics instruction. Students that receive the explicit instruction are better spellers because of the full understanding of how the language code works. I think it make more sense to teach everyone and review and practice for those that need it and move on for the ones that have mastered it.

      1. mark

        I think you make a valid point but it is much more complex than that. Experience tells me that too often, phonics in the hands of a poor teacher is as a recipe for disaster. ie I see teachers ‘doing’ phonics and the students still not being able to spell or read at the end of it. That’s why I am focussed on improving delivery of teaching and learning outcomes. I also suspect that phonics for spelling purposes may be being taught far too early.

  5. ayda

    Wiktionary has grown beyond a standard dictionary and now includes a thesaurus, a rhyme guide, phrase books, language statistics and extensive appendices. We aim to include not only the definition of a word, but also enough information to really understand it. Thus etymologies, pronunciations, sample quotations, synonyms, antonyms and translations are included.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *