Greg Brooks' analysis of current research evidence on a range of intervention strategies, published by the Dyslexia/SpLD Trust, is exemplary. Each piece of evidence is analysed clearly and fairly, with a succinct and accurate conclusion that should make this work a reference point for new research, both to ensure good design, and to avoid errors.
It includes this study by the OU of the Easyread scheme, a new approach to phonic processing that has enabled pupils to make accelerated progress over a period of four months.
The Open University has been collecting data, using a randomized control trial (RCT), on the Easyread System in six London schools between October 2011 and June 2013. The trial has been managed by Professor David Messer with the assistance of Dr Gilly Nash.
100 children were assigned randomly to an Easyread Group and a Control Group.
During the trial some of the most challenged readers in the Control Group left their respective schools (perhaps in frustration of not being included in the first wave of Easyread intervention!). Meanwhile some of the best readers from the Easyread group also left their schools. So the two groups ended up showing a different average start point, despite being originally equal.
Over the first 12 months, this is what happened:
The Easyread Group actually reached a normal reading level for their age after doing around 120 lessons. Meanwhile the majority of the Control Group continued to fall behind.
The trial continued and in January 2013 the children of the Control Group were also put on the Easyread System. By June 2013 the Control group had done around 50 Easyread lessons:
These figures present a preliminary analysis of the data by Professor David Messer. He has commented “these findings although only a first analysis of the data are very encouraging. The two groups of children were identified by their schools as being in need of help with their reading and each group had below average scores on a reading test. After taking part in Easyread lessons the reading of the two groups had improved and the average scores of the two groups were just above what would be expected for children of this age. Over the coming months a full analysis will be made prior to publication in an academic journal."
Copyright Morgan Learning Solutions Ltd 2013.
(JB again) While there remains more than one way to approach this issue, the evidence here is both impressive and independent. The one element lacking is what Bradley and Bryant referred to as the "taught control group", which was used to check that it was not just additional attention and practice that was making a difference, rather than the new scheme itself. It's surprising that the OU missed this point. Nevertheless, the rapid progress made by Easyread children after moving to the scheme at a late stage is another very impressive feature. I recommend clicking on the full version here
Professor Brooks' analysis of research on Reading Recovery once again shows the problem that has dogged this scheme from the outset - pupils are shown making well above average progress during their time on the scheme, and building on these gains a year later, but are not able to be followed through to Year 4, so that the much-repeated claim of sustained average progress cannot be substantiated. RR has had decades to address this point.