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SOLAR: The Science of Language and Reading

Reading ability is profoundly important, for individuals and for the societies of which they are a part. Research indicates...
Reading ability is profoundly important, for individuals and for the societies of which they are a part. Research indicates that we should be successfully teaching 95% of children to read, yet, in reality, high rates of reading failure are...
Reading ability is profoundly important, for individuals and for the societies of which they are a part. Research indicates that we should be successfully teaching 95% of children to read, yet, in reality, high rates of reading failure are common in western, industrialized nations. In large part, this reflects a failure to translate into practice knowledge derived from the scientific study of reading and reading instruction and, indeed, to the rejection in some circles of the notion that there is a science of reading, in the same way that there is a science of memory, learning, and cognition. In this article, I suggest the Science of Language and Reading (SOLAR) framework as a way of positioning oral language as a central driver of reading acquisition. The SOLAR framework is illustrated via the Language House schema, which considers the social-emotional contexts for language acquisition and reading instruction, alongside the ongoing development of prosocial interpersonal skills and mastery of sufficient language and reading skills by early adulthood to be able to function as part of the social and economic mainstream. I argue that speech-language therapy has much to offer to the promotion of evidence-based early reading and writing instruction and support, given the linguistic nature of reading and the high comorbidity between language and reading difficulties and social-emotional disturbances in childhood and adolescence.
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Effective Reading Instruction in the Early Years of School

Reading is a foundational, yet complex cognitive skill upon which other skills are built. Early success in reading is a powerful...
Reading is a foundational, yet complex cognitive skill upon which other skills are built. Early success in reading is a powerful predictor of later achievement in a range of other academic areas. Individuals without literacy skills are at risk of being unable to...
Reading is a foundational, yet complex cognitive skill upon which other skills are built. Early success in reading is a powerful predictor of later achievement in a range of other academic areas. Individuals without literacy skills are at risk of being unable to participate in the workforce or engage fully in civic and social life. Since 2000, there have been major reviews of the teaching of reading in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. These reviews, along with other research, have consistently identified five key components of effective reading programs: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The CESE literature review ‘Effective reading instruction in the early years of school’ summarises this research and concludes that, to be most successful, the five key components must be taught explicitly, sequentially and systematically. The evidence identifies five key components of effective reading programs: Phonemic awarenessThe ability to hear the sounds in spoken words and understand that words are made up of sequences of sounds. PhonicsPhonics instruction connects phonemes with written letters so that the reader can transfer knowledge of sounds to the printed word. Synthetic phonics’ is the approach with the most robust evidence base. FluencyThe ability to read quickly and naturally with accuracy and expression. Fluency contains the skill of automaticity which allows a reader to recognise words quickly. VocabularyWhen children ‘sound out’ a word, their brain connects the pronunciation of a sequence of sounds to a word in their vocabulary to find a logical match. If a match is not created because the word they are reading is not in their vocabulary, comprehension is interrupted. ComprehensionThe understanding and interpretation of what is read. Comprehension requires having a sufficient vocabulary.
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Reading and Oral Vocabulary Development in Early Adolescence

International assessments show that 20% of adolescents cannot read simple texts with understanding. Despite this, research has focused on...
International assessments show that 20% of adolescents cannot read simple texts with understanding. Despite this, research has focused on early reading in childhood and skilled reading in adulthood, neglecting reading development during adolescence. We report a longitudinal study assessing...
International assessments show that 20% of adolescents cannot read simple texts with understanding. Despite this, research has focused on early reading in childhood and skilled reading in adulthood, neglecting reading development during adolescence. We report a longitudinal study assessing reading and vocabulary development at 12, 13 and 14 years in a sample of 210 adolescents who were unselected for ability. Word reading accuracy, word reading fluency, reading comprehension, receptive vocabulary and expressive vocabulary were assessed using standardized assessments. Latent variable models showed consistent rank order amongst individuals (high stability), significant progress over time, and evidence that achievement gaps between the least and most able adolescents were narrowing. Oral vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension were best conceptualized as indices of a common language construct. Low levels of reading proficiency were also observed in a substantial proportion of this sample, underlining the importance of providing ongoing reading and language support during adolescence.
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Identifying and Teaching Students with Significant Reading Problems

As researchers who have studied mechanisms for improving literacy outcomes for more than 30 years, Drs. Sharon Vaughn and...
As researchers who have studied mechanisms for improving literacy outcomes for more than 30 years, Drs. Sharon Vaughn and Jack M. Fletcher offer a sobering review of what is known about how to help struggling readers.
As researchers who have studied mechanisms for improving literacy outcomes for more than 30 years, Drs. Sharon Vaughn and Jack M. Fletcher offer a sobering review of what is known about how to help struggling readers.
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Early Identification of Reading Disabilities Within an RTI Framework

Early and accurate identification of children at risk for reading disabilities (RD) is critical for the prevention of RD...
Early and accurate identification of children at risk for reading disabilities (RD) is critical for the prevention of RD within a response to intervention framework. In this study, we investigated the use of universal screening and progress monitoring for...
Early and accurate identification of children at risk for reading disabilities (RD) is critical for the prevention of RD within a response to intervention framework. In this study, we investigated the use of universal screening and progress monitoring for the early identification of RD in kindergarten children. A total of 366 children were administered a battery of screening measures at the beginning of kindergarten and progress-monitoring probes across the school year. A subset of children who showed initial risk for RD also received a 26-week Tier 2 intervention. Participants’ achievement in word reading accuracy and/or fluency was assessed at the end of first grade. Results indicated that a screening battery containing measures of letter naming fluency, phonological awareness, rapid naming, or nonword repetition accurately identified good and poor readers at the end of first grade. Findings also showed that children’s response to supplemental and/or classroom instruction measured in terms of growth in letter naming fluency added significantly to the prediction of reading outcomes.
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The Dramatic Impact of Explicit Instruction on Learning to Read in a New Writing System

There is profound and long-standing debate over the role of explicit instruction in reading acquisition. In this research, we investigated...
There is profound and long-standing debate over the role of explicit instruction in reading acquisition. In this research, we investigated the impact of teaching regularities in the writing system explicitly rather than relying on learners to discover these regularities through text...
There is profound and long-standing debate over the role of explicit instruction in reading acquisition. In this research, we investigated the impact of teaching regularities in the writing system explicitly rather than relying on learners to discover these regularities through text experience alone. Over 10 days, 48 adults learned to read novel words printed in two artificial writing systems. One group learned spelling-to-sound and spelling-to-meaning regularities solely through experience with the novel words, whereas the other group received a brief session of explicit instruction on these regularities before training commenced. Results showed that virtually all participants who received instruction performed at ceiling on tests that probed generalization of underlying regularities. In contrast, despite up to 18 hr of training on the novel words, less than 25% of discovery learners performed on par with those who received instruction. These findings illustrate the dramatic impact of teaching method on outcomes during reading acquisition.
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Supporting struggling adolescent readers through the Response to Intervention (RTI) framework.

The purpose of this article is to describe what needs to happen in Australian schools to provide effective literacy...
The purpose of this article is to describe what needs to happen in Australian schools to provide effective literacy support for adolescent students with reading difficulties. The central thesis of this paper is that the Response to Intervention (RtI)...
The purpose of this article is to describe what needs to happen in Australian schools to provide effective literacy support for adolescent students with reading difficulties. The central thesis of this paper is that the Response to Intervention (RtI) model provides a useful framework for organizing multi-tiered evidence-based reading interventions for struggling adolescent readers. Necessary adaptations of the model for the secondary context are discussed and the benefits and pitfalls of flexible and fixed groupings are outlined. Australian schools cannot afford to adopt a “business-as-usual” approach. Reasonable adjustments within classrooms are not enough to equip students with the literacy they need. Rather, schools should look to how they can use the RtI model to provide varying levels of evidence-based reading intervention, drawing on the expertise of speech pathologists.
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The mission to improve reading instruction – How can we achieve success?

Jennifer Buckingham, recipient of the 2019 LDA Mona Tobias Award, reflects on the difficulties of bringing about the changes required to...
Jennifer Buckingham, recipient of the 2019 LDA Mona Tobias Award, reflects on the difficulties of bringing about the changes required to implement effective reading instruction for all children, based on the scientific evidence of what works.
Jennifer Buckingham, recipient of the 2019 LDA Mona Tobias Award, reflects on the difficulties of bringing about the changes required to implement effective reading instruction for all children, based on the scientific evidence of what works.
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Short-Changed: Preparation to teach reading in initial teacher education.

Initial teacher education students, and the children they eventually go on to teach, are being short-changed. This report adds...
Initial teacher education students, and the children they eventually go on to teach, are being short-changed. This report adds to the evidence supporting the need for urgent and dramatic improvement in initial teacher education by looking at the extent...
Initial teacher education students, and the children they eventually go on to teach, are being short-changed. This report adds to the evidence supporting the need for urgent and dramatic improvement in initial teacher education by looking at the extent to which literacy units in undergraduate initial teacher education courses provide evidence-based information on how children learn to read; and the most effective ways to teach them.
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Lost in translation? Challenges in connecting reading science and educational practice

an the science of reading contribute to improving educational practices, allowing more students to become skilled readers? Much has...
an the science of reading contribute to improving educational practices, allowing more students to become skilled readers? Much has been learned about the behavioral and brain bases of reading, how students learn to read, and factors that contribute to...
an the science of reading contribute to improving educational practices, allowing more students to become skilled readers? Much has been learned about the behavioral and brain bases of reading, how students learn to read, and factors that contribute to low literacy. The potential to use research findings to improve literacy outcomes is substantial but remains largely unrealized. The lack of improvement in literacy levels, especially among students who face other challenges such as poverty, has led to new pressure to incorporate the science of reading in curricula, instructional practices, and teacher education. In the interest of promoting these efforts, the authors discuss three issues that could undermine them: the need for additional translational research linking reading science to classroom activities, the oversimplified way that the science is sometimes represented in the educational context, and the fact that theories of reading have become more complex and less intuitive as the field has progressed. Addressing these concerns may allow reading science to be used more effectively and achieve greater acceptance among educators.
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