The Fatal Flaws of the SoR Movement: SVR and Phonics First
States across the U.S. continue to revise and introduce new reading legislation. As well, states are updating reading standards — all of which is being strongly influenced by the “science of reading” (SoR) movement.
While the SoR movement maintains that powerful influence over policy and classroom practice, I have strongly criticized the media and marketing aspects because of central concepts that are overly simplistic and ultimately harmful for teaching and learning reading. Those key fatal flaws are a commitment to the “simple view” of reading (SVR)  and practicing phonics-first with beginning readers (systematic phonics for all students in K-2 that is often without context or isolated from comprehension goals).
Recently on social media, a literacy educator raised concern that proposed revised state standards in K-2 ELA do not include comprehension in foundational skills. As I commented, this is the exact problem I have been criticizing and expecting as a result of embracing SVR, an out-of-date and simplistic theory of reading (see note 1 below).
Many, if not most, SoR advocates endorse intensive systematic phonics for all students before they are expected to demonstrate comprehension; some argue K-2 students can’t comprehend. Begun several years ago, this aspect of the SoR movement has re-energized the use of DIBELS, an assessment tool that evaluates student ability to pronounce nonsense words in isolation. This nonsense is often presented as “reading,” even though simply decoding (pronunciation) words in isolation is not reading.
As I will explain later, saying students pronouncing nonsense words is reading proficiency is the same as saying children riding bicycles with training wheels are cyclists.
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