The literacy progress of 300 children has now been followed from grade 1 to grade 7.
- Group 1 were taught traditional (synthetic) phonics.
- Group 2 were taught analytic phonics. (footnote)
- Group 3 were taught analytic phonics plus some phonological awareness training.
Footnotes: Synthetic Phonics:
Reading words by blending letter sounds & syllables (supported by the rules of spelling & grammar). Teaching is direct & content is structured and sequenced.Analytic Phonics:
The incidental teaching of first letter cues, word families etc. to support Whole Language learning, for example, while reading a “Big Book’ or during ‘Story Conferencing’.
Training for each group consisted of 20 minutes per day for 16 weeks starting in early grade 1.
After 6 weeks children taught traditional phonics were:
- reading words 7 months ahead of their chronological age
- reading words 7 months ahead of both Group 2 and Group 3
- the best group at reading irregular words
- the best group at reading words by analogy
- spelling 8 months ahead of chronological age
- spelling 7 months ahead of Group 2 and Group 3
Children from the other 2 groups were then also introduced to the Traditional Phonics programme, completing it by the end of gr 1.
6 years later, by grade 7, the authors found that:
These findings are consistent with VAS Theory expectations.
- The children taught by the Traditional Phonics from the outset have maintained their superior reading and spelling performance.
- The Phonics-first approach had also eliminated the literacy failure in males usually associated with Analytic Phonics.
- The Phonics-first approach had significantly reduced the literacy failure normally associated with having a low socio-economic background.