9.1 At the beginning of Primary 1, one group of children learnt to read using the synthetic phonics programme. They were compared with two groups learning to read by analytic phonics programmes; one of these programmes was a standard analytic phonics programme, but the other one contained intensive training to enable children to hear sounds such as phonemes and rhymes in spoken words. At the end of the 16 week training period, the synthetic phonics group were reading words around 7 months ahead of chronological age, and were 7 months ahead of the other two groups. The synthetic phonics group's spelling was also 7 months ahead of chronological age, and was around 8 to 9 months ahead of the two analytic phonics groups. These groups were spelling 2 to 3 months behind chronological age. The synthetic phonics group also showed a significant advantage in ability to identifying phonemes in spoken words, performing even better than the group that had experienced direct training in this skill, despite the fact that these children were from significantly less advantaged homes than the other children. The phonemic awareness programme was found to have no benefits for literacy acquisition.
9.2 The two analytic phonics taught groups then carried out the synthetic phonics programme, completing it by the end of Primary 1. In the meantime the initial synthetic phonics group consolidated their learning rather than moving on to learn new grapheme to phoneme correspondences. During the course of Primary 2 some children in the original analytic phonics taught groups received extra help, but this was not necessary for the initial synthetic phonics taught group. At the end of Primary 2, the initial synthetic phonics taught children were significantly better spellers, and there was a trend towards better word reading skills. When separate analyses of word reading were carried for boys and girls, it was found that early or late synthetic phonics teaching had no impact on the boys reading attainment. However, the analysis for the girls showed that the early synthetic phonics trained group read words significantly better than the group that had received the standard analytic phonics programme first. We conclude that in order to foster good spelling skills, and to assist girls in learning to read, synthetic phonics should start early in Primary 1.
9.3 We have conducted an analysis of the children's performance from Primary 2 to Primary 7, comparing the same children right through in word reading, spelling and reading comprehension. This was to gain an exact measure of whether the gains the children experienced from the Primary 1 programme were maintained, or whether they increased or decreased. It was found for word reading and spelling that the gain in skill compared with chronological age had increased significantly over the years, even though the training programme had ended in Primary 1. In Primary 2, word reading was found to be 11.5 months ahead of chronological age, but in Primary 7 it was 3 years 6 months ahead. For spelling, in Primary 2 it was 1 year ahead, whereas by Primary 7 it was 1 year 9 months ahead. However, for reading comprehension, a different pattern was shown. In Primary 2 the children were comprehending what they read 7 months ahead of chronological age, but by Primary 7 this had dropped to a 3.5 months advantage.
THE EFFECTS OF
SYNTHETIC PHONICS TEACHING
ON READING AND SPELLING ATTAINMENT
A seven year longitudinal study
Rhona Johnston1 and Joyce Watson2
1. Department of Psychology, University of Hull
2. School of Psychology, University of St Andrews
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AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
SOCIAL BACKGROUND QUESTIONNAIRE
ATTITUDES TO READING
COMPARISON OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ANALYTIC AND SYNTHETIC PHONICS TEACHING
BOYS' AND GIRLS' ATTITUDES TO READING IN PRIMARY 7
TEACHERS' VIEW OF THE SYNTHETIC PHONICS PROGRAMME
DEPRIVATION INDEX, ATTITUDE TO READING AND LITERACY
PARENTAL FACTORS, ATTITUDE TO READING AND LITERACY
ATTITUDES TO READING, PARENTAL FACTORS AND LITERACY
COMPARISON OF READING AND SPELLING ATTAINMENT
PROPORTION OF UNDERACHIEVING CHILDREN
LONG TERM EFFECTS OF LITERACY ATTAINMENT
COMPARISON OF BOYS VERSUS GIRLS IN LITERACY ATTAINMENT
ATTITUDES TO READING
FEEDBACK FROM TEACHERS ON THE PROGRAMME
EFFECTS OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS
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The views expressed in the report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Scottish Executive or any other organisation(s) by which the author(s) is/are employed.The Scottish Executive is making this research report available on-line in order to provide access to its contents for those interested in the subject. The Executive commissioned the research but has not exercised editorial control over the report.The Executive has not published this full report in hard copy, but a summary version has been published in the Insight series (ISSN 1478-6788 online) as Insight 17.Insight 17 is also available online at www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/education/ins17-00.asp with a limited print run available from the Dissemination Officer, Information, Analysis & Communication Division, Scottish Executive Education Department, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ (telephone 0131-244-0316).Both reports were published on The Scottish Executive website on 11 February 2005.