Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Information for teachers and parents on teaching and assessing reading, writing, and literacy.

You judge which is the most productive stage of this daisy's cycle.

Shanahan on Literacy
Information for teachers and parents on teaching and assessing reading, writing, and literacy.

Early Childhood Literacy

The Connecticut Council for School Reform asked me to speak in Hartford, on April 9, 2015.
My presentation reviewed and responded to some of the complaints
or concerns about teaching young children to read,
and considered several issues in expanding preschool literacy opportunities.
My presentation was based largely on the Report of the National Early Literacy Panel
and a handful of other individual studies that I wanted to highlight.

Response to Complaint about What Works Clearinghouse
I have recently encountered some severe criticism leveled at reviews and reviewers from
What Works Clearinghous  (see I am concerned about recommending this site to teachers as a resource
for program evaluations. I'm wondering if you agree with the criticisms, and if yes,
where you would recommend teachers go for evidence-based program reviews.
I know that NELP and NRP reports are possibilities but are also static documents
that do not get updated frequently with new findings, so some of the information really isn't current. Perhaps the Florida Center for Reading Research is an alternative?
Do you have others than you would recommend?

I don’t agree with these criticisms and believe What Works Clearinghouse (WWC)
has a valuable role to play in offering guidance to educators. I often recommend it to teachers
and will continue to do so. It is the best source for this kind of information.

WWC is operated by the U.S. Department of Education.
It reviews research claims about commercial programs and products in education.
WWC serves as a kind of Good Housekeeping seal of approval.
It is helpful because it takes conflict of interest out of the equation.
WWC and its reviewers have no financial interest in whether a research claim is upheld or not.

I am an advisor to the WWC. Basically, that means I’m available, on a case-by-case basis,
to help their review teams when questions come up about reading instruction or assessment.
Such inquiries arise 2-3 times per year. I don’t think my modest involvement in WWC
taints my opinion, but the whole point of WWC is to reduce the commercial influence
on the interpretation of research findings, so it would be dishonorable for me
not be open about my involvement.  

I wish the “studies” and “reports” you referred me to were as disinterested. 
The DI organization has long been chagrined that the WWC reviews of DI products
and programs haven’t been more positive.
That the authors of these reports have a rooting interest in the results should be noted.

Different from the disinterested reviews of the Clearinghouse which follow a consistent
rule-based set of review procedures developed openly by a team of outstanding scientists,
these reports are biased, probably because they are aimed at trying to poke a finger in the eye
of the reviewers who were unwilling to endorse their programs.
That’s why there is so much non-parallel analysis, questionable assumptions, biased language, etc.

For example, one of the reports indicates how many complaints have been sent to the WWC
(62 over approximately 7 years of reviewing). This sounds like a lot,
but what is the appropriate denominator… is it 62 complaints out of X reviews?
Or 62 complaints about X decisions included in each of the X reviews?
Baseball umpires make mistakes, too; but we evaluate them not on the number of mistakes,
but the proportion of mistakes to decisions. (I recommend WWC reviews, in part,
because they will re-review the studies and revise as necessary when there are complaints).

Or, another example: These reports include a table citing the “reasons for requesting
a quality review of WWC findings,” which lists the numbers and percentage of times
that complaints have focused on particular kinds of problems
(e.g., misinterpretation of study findings, inclusion/exclusion of studies.
But there is no comparable table showing the disposition of these complaints. I wonder why not? (Apparently, one learns in another portion of the report, that there were 146 specific complaints,
37 of which led to some kind of revision—often minor changes in a review for the sake of clarity; that doesn’t sound so terrible to me.)

The biggest complaint leveled here is that some studies should not have been included
as evidence since they were studies of incomplete or poor implementations of a program.

The problem with that complaint is that issues of implementation quality only arise
when a report doesn’t support a program’s effectiveness.
There is no standard for determining how well or how completely a program is implemented,
so for those with an axe to grind, any time their program works it had to be well implemented
and when it doesn’t it wasn’t.

Schoolchildren need to be protected from such scary and self-interested logic.

Introduction to Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
A practical overview of Turbo Charged Reading YouTube 
How to choose a book. A Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Emotions when Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Advanced Reading Skills Perhaps you’d like to join my FaceBook group ?
Perhaps you’d like to check out my sister blogs:         gives many ways for you to work with the stresses of life               which takes advantage of the experience and expertise of others.         just for fun.

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your opinions, experience and questions are welcome. M'reen