Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Why insist on research reports for everything?


I read a well written blog post by Lindsay Kemeny. Here are extracts and my comments on the article. (LINK)


I have always tried to be careful with how I bring this up, because people get so upset and defensive when confronted with the fact that there is no research to support these reading strategies and, even worse, they are doing harm to students. But my patience is wearing thin on this topic. Just when I think that the tide is turning and that the majority of educators now realize the problems surrounding 3 cueing, I hear an edu-celebrity tell teachers on Facebook to simply “tweak” the strategies instead of get rid of them or a reader emails me asking me to take down this post stating that it’s only my opinion and that 3 cueing works. This particular reader told me not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but 3 cueing is exactly what needs to be thrown out. I stand by what I said. There is no research to support these strategies and you don’t need to take my word for it. You can read about it here, here, and here.



My comment:

I don’t know much about 3 cueing to support it or otherwise. But why this fuss about everything needing to be supported by research? 


I started teaching kids to find out why they were unable to read in English whilst being able to read in Malay and Han Yu Pin Yin. The Anglosphere have a standard answer to this question as responded by Dr. Valdine Bjornson on a Zoom presentation in October 2021 organized by Dyslexia Canada Org. She gave the same answer as has been given by so-called researchers for decades – ‘English is an opaque language’. Everyone who reads that statement swallow it hook, line and sinker because some researcher had reported such.  


I never take anyone’s word for it, researched or otherwise, without thinking if it makes sense. I have stated over a decade that the problem with kids disengaging from learning to read is confusion resulting from ‘dysteachia’. 


There are so many issues with this post (there are much more than 20% of students struggling to read), but the idea that the bottom 20% aren’t worth our time, aren’t worth investing in, and don’t deserve a seat at the table is despicable and should sicken anyone in education. No child is too low for our help. No child is beyond reach. If you don’t believe this, you are in the wrong profession.


My comment:


Yes! There are much more than 20% who are struggling to read. There are some important questions to be answered.

i.                    In the first place, why are these kids struggling?

ii.                  Were there such struggling students during whole language period, phonics period and when 3 cueing was taught?

iii.               How are most of these struggling kids brought to grade level and maintained at grade level after a short period of intervention?

iv.                There are more than 20% who struggle to read. Yes! But how do a majority of them manage to read when they are in grades 4 to 6 without intervention? 


I agree with the author that no child is beyond reach. But why are about 20% of kids leaving school as functional illiterates even in schools teaching phonics and not using the 3 cueing system? 


Did we have kids learning to read fluently during the whole language period and in schools teaching 3 cueing? Of course we did! 


The purpose of intervention is to give our at-risk students enhanced opportunities to learn and grow. It’s a chance for them to reach benchmark goals. It’s a chance to teach them what they weren’t able to achieve in tier 1. Any student may need intervention at any time. It’s not only reserved for those I think may benefit from an IEP. Many of these students will make adequate growth with my interventions and that will be all they need. If they don’t make adequate progress, then I’ll consider the next steps.


My comment:


At risk students? This term ‘At risk students’ is used rampantly. An at-risk student is one that is considered to be in danger of not graduating, being promoted, or meeting other education-related goals. How do you know which students are at-risk?


What did the author do during intervention? Could we have prevented the kid from requiring intervention?


The ‘dysteachia’ is what causes most kids to be unable to read. There is ample research on this, not that I care about research reports. Dr. Reid Lyon was the person who coined the word ‘instructional casualties’. But what is it that has been instructed wrongly? I wrote to Reid Lyon in 2015 but his wife told me that he was busy travelling.


The answer to what is instructed wrongly is therefore paramount. The answer will either reduce the so-called ‘at-risk’ students or eradicate the necessity of using such a term. It should be obvious that it is we who are creating these ‘at-risk’ students.


It has become apparent to me that we need to continually be critical consumers and cannot solely rely on certain products, curriculums, and programs any longer. As educators, we need to rise to a higher standard, improving our own knowledge and level of understanding with regard to reading. We must realize that just because something says “science of reading” does not automatically mean that it is. Additionally, there are quality resources out there that don’t include this, more recent, term. Continuing to improve our own expertise in the science of reading is the best way to ensure that we are doing everything we can for our students.

My comment:


Yes! We need to be critical consumers. Never stop questioning. It is my curiosity that made me start teaching kids to find out why smart kids were unable to read in English whilst being able to read in other languages.


Yes, we need to rise to a higher standard and improve our knowledge and level of understanding with regard to reading. Do not be like Lyn Stone, Jo Anne Gross, Stephen Parker, Debbie Hepplewhite and the like who block those who question them.


Do not rely on research reports blindly and do not ask for research reports when logical thinking should be able to provide you with the answer

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