The Failure of Phonics in England: Letter in Times of London (Jan 12, 2017)

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The Backseat Linguist jumped across the pond today for a letter in the Times of London about phonics teaching in England.
Sir, In her article, Alice Thomson claims that the teaching of phonics has led to “a big improvement” in the number of fluent readers since 2010. I disagree. A 2016 analysis by Stephen Machin and his colleagues at the London School of Economics found that the new phonics mandates were associated with only modest improvements in reading scores by the age of 5, and that those gains disappeared entirely by age 11.
If Damian Hinds really wants to make a difference in schools he should instead invest money into the one activity that has been consistently proven to boost reading achievement: putting more books into the school library.
Jeff McQuillan

Senior researcher, Center for Educational Development,
Los Angeles
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