Nothing synthetic about phonics

 Here is another article about synthetic phonics in today’s TESS.

It is interesting to note that the impressive advances in decoding and spelling skills are not matched quite so dramatically with improvements in comprehension. It has long been a concern of mine that an overemphasis on phonic instruction is necessary but not sufficient to create readers. ( What do I mean ? This definition  may be excessive but true to my heart: a reader is one who lives to read rather than reads to live!)

Nothing synthetic about phonics by Elizabeth Buie
TESS reports that Sue Ellis, an expert in literacy at Strathclyde University, has published a report which highlights variations between the national 5-14 test results for P7 pupils involved in the phonics programme and the psychological test results used to proclaim its success. Her report, which appears in the December issue of the Journal for Early Childhood Literacy, notes the study’s findings: that, after seven years of following the synthetic phonics programme, pupils were three years and six months ahead of their chronological age in decoding words, one year and nine months ahead in spelling, and 3.5 months above the expected level for reading comprehension.