Impact of "synthetic" phonics wears off.
Sent to the Guardian, April 25
The Centre for Economic Performance study did NOT show that "Phonics method helps close attainment gap," (April 24). It found just the opposite: By the time children were 11 years old, there was no difference between those who had "synthetic" phonics instruction and those who had different approaches. (in synthetic phonics, children are taught how letters are pronounced in isolation, before reading words.)
In addition, the synthetic phonics advantage began to disappear quite early: 5 year olds showed an obvious impact of phonics instruction, but the effect was clearly weaker by age 7.
The Guardian article also reported that synthetic phonics was "markedly successful" for groups from "deprived backgrounds" even at age 11. But the effect for this group was weak, clearly on its way to disappearing.
UK Children's Laureate Michael Rosen is quoted as saying that reading for pleasure is the most powerful way of building reading competence. Research consistently supports this statement, and explains why children of poverty don't do as well on reading tests: lack of access to reading material.
Original article: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/apr/25/phonics-method-helps-close-attainment-gap-study-finds