Explicit instruction and decoding instruction mediates Matthew effects for students in low socio-economic schools

Explicit instruction and decoding instruction mediates Matthew effects for students in low socio-economic schools

First Author: Alison Arrow -- University of Canterbury
Additional authors/chairs: 
James Chapman
Keywords: Intervention, Primary education, Longitudinal, At Risk Students, Learning to read
Abstract / Summary: 

Although the ‘Reading Wars’ are considered to have ended (Castles et al., 2018), the implicit approach to teaching reading is very much alive in many school systems. In this intervention study teachers whose practices were typically implicit were taught to provide students with an explicit phonics focus in the first year of school. We followed the impact of this change in teaching practice on a sample of children in the classrooms for the first 18 months of school.
Teachers (n=38) of beginning readers in a variety of socio-economic areas attended workshops on integrating explicit and systematics phonics into their classroom reading instruction. Teacher practice was measured through classroom observation and coded on a scale of implicit to explicit approach. Children (n=167) who started the academic school year in the classrooms of these teachers and a comparison group (n=67) from control schools were assessed on early literacy skills at school entry, and on decoding and spelling in the middle of their second school year.
Although there were no differences between the intervention and comparison groups of children at school entry. On the outcome measures, MANOVA analyses found significant differences between intervention and comparison group students. The biggest differences were between intervention and comparison students in the lowest socio-economic band.
Intervention aimed at adding explicit instruction to build child word knowledge led to improved outcomes for students and a reduction in potential negative Matthew effects. Students in schools serving low socio-economic families made the most significant gains.