Differing effects of two synthetic phonics programmes on early reading development

Laura R. Shapiro*, Jonathan Solity

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Synthetic phonics is the widely accepted approach for teaching reading in English: children are taught to sound out the letters in a word then blend these sounds together.
Aims: We compared the impact of two synthetic phonics programmes on early reading.SampleChildren received Letters and Sounds (L&S; 7 schools) which teaches multiple letter-sound mappings or Early Reading Research (ERR; 10 schools) which teaches only the most consistent mappings plus frequent words by sight.MethodWe measured phonological awareness (PA) and reading from school entry to the end of the second (all schools) or third school year (4 ERR, 3 L&S schools).
Results: PA was significantly related to all reading measures for the whole sample. However, there was a closer relationship between PA and exception word reading for children receiving the L&S programme. The programmes were equally effective overall, but their impact on reading significantly interacted with school-entry PA: children with poor PA at school entry achieved higher reading attainments under ERR (significant group difference on exception word reading at the end of the first year), whereas children with good PA performed equally well under either programme.
Conclusions: The more intensive phonics programme (L&S) heightened the association between PA and exception word reading. Although the programmes were equally effective for most children, results indicate potential benefits of ERR for children with poor PA. We suggest that phonics programmes could be simplified to teach only the most consistent mappings plus frequent words by sight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182–203
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Volume86
Issue number2
Early online date19 Nov 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Shapiro, L. R., & Solity, J. (2016). Differing effects of two synthetic phonics programmes on early reading development. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 86(2), 182–203, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjep.12097. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Funding: Learning Skills Research

Keywords

  • phonics
  • synthetic phonics
  • reading
  • phonological awareness
  • phonological difficulties
  • sight word
  • children
  • English

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