Phonemic awareness training necessary? Response to Krashen

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This study investigated the effect of phonemic awareness training on the phonemic awareness and reading ability of low- and middle-achieving first-grade readers (N=19). Random assignment was made to one control group and three experimental: phonemic skill training only (“skill and drill”), phonemic skill training plus decoding (“semi-conceptual”), and phonemic skill training plus decoding and reading (“conceptual”). Outcome measures included tests of segmentation, deletion, deletion and substitution, and both standardized and informal tests of reading. Results indicated no significant differences among the experimental and control groups on measures of phonemic awareness (segmentation excepted) or reading. Findings also revealed that training that provided subjects with a conceptual connection between phonemic skills and reading was generally ineffective for low readers. These results suggest that phonemic awareness training for low- and middle-achieving beginning readers may not be unequivocally beneficial.
The first in a series of reports by the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development, this report demonstrates the positive relationship between reduced class size and pupil achievement. The researchers collected about 80 studies that yielded over 700 comparisons of the achievement of smaller and larger classes. The results showed that as class size increases, achievement decreases. For example, the difference in being taught in a class of 20 versus a class of 40 shows an advantage of 6 percentile ranks. The relationship between class size and achievement is slightly stronger at the secondary level, but it does not differ appreciably across different school subjects, levels of pupil IQ, or several other demographic features of classrooms. The report suggests that schools cannot afford the consequences of maintaining large classes all the time and must find ways to finance smaller classes for some pupils or for all pupils for part of the school day. (Author/LD)