Saturday, August 12, 2006

What the NCTQ did not investigate...Comment by R. Allington

More from Stephen Krashen: As some of you are aware, a report was issued by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) condemning teacher education. The report assumes that the conclusions of the National Reading Panel are correct. Here are Richard Allington’s remarks on the NCTQ report. He has said it can be shared with "any and all." Richard Allington is the immediate past president of the International Reading Association.


The kicker in the NCTQ report for me, at least, is
their assertion about the report of the NRP that: "No
subsequent work of serious scholarship has challenged
its findings" (p.8).

What about these published challenges?

Almasi, J. F., Garas, K., & Shanahan, L. (2002).
Qualitative research and the report of the national
reading panel: No methodology left behind? Elementary
School Journal, 107(1).

Camilli, G., Vargas, S., & Yurecko, M. (2003).
Teaching children to read: The fragile link between
science and federal education policy. Education Policy
Analysis Archives, 11(15), Retrieved, May 20, 2003.

Cunningham, J. W. (2001). The national reading panel
report. Reading Research Quarterly, 30(3), 326-335.

Garan, E. M. (2001). What does the report of the
national reading panel really tell us about phonics?
Language Arts, 79, 61-70.

Hammill, D., & Swanson, L. (2006). The nrp’s
meta-analysis of phonics instruction: Another point of
view. Elementary School Journal, 107(1), 331-339.

Hiebert, E. H., & Fisher, C. W. (2005). A review of
the national reading panel's studies on fluency: The
role of text. Elementary School Journal, 105(5),

Krashen, S. (2001). More smoke and mirrors: A critique
of the national reading panel report on fluency. Phi
Delta Kappan, October, 119-123.

Pearson, P. D. (2004). The reading wars. Educational
Policy, 18(1), 216-252.

Pressley, M., & Allington, R. L. (1999). What should
educational research be the research of? Issues in
education: Contributions from educational psychology,
5(1), 1-35.

Pressley, M., Duke, N. K., & Boling, E. C. (2004). The
educational science and scientifically based
instruction we need: Lessons from reading research
and policymaking. Harvard Educational Review, 74(1),

Samuels, S. J. (2002). Reading fluency: Its
development and assessment. In A.
Farstrup & S. J. Samuels (Eds.), What research has to
say about reading instruction (3rd ed., pp. 166-183).
Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Strauss, S. L. (2003). Challenging the NICHD reading
research agenda. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(6), 438-442.

Edmondson, J., & Shannon, P. (2002). The will of the
people. Reading Teacher,
55(5), 452-454.

Yatvin, J. (2002). Babes in the woods: The wanderings
of the national reading
panel. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(5), 364- 369.

Each of these blistering critiques was published in a
leading peer reviewed journal, something the NCTQ
cannot claim.

Then there are the book length critiques, published
after peer review by leading academic publishers
(again something NCTQ cannot claim).

Allington, R. L. (2002). Big brother and the national
reading curriculum: How ideology trumped evidence.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Coles, G. (2003). Reading the naked truth: Literacy,
legislation, and lies. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Smith, M. L., Miller-Kahn, L., Heinecke, W., & Jarvis,
P. F. (2004). Political spectacle and the fate of
American schools. New York: RoutledgeFalmer.

I don't know how many research excellence awards these
various authors have received but I'll bet there are
at least 10 award recipients on the list. I don't know
how many of these folks have received funding from the
USDE/NICHD for their research but again I'll bet at
least 10 have (I know for a fact that at least 8
have). Virtually all of these authors serve on
editorail advisory boards of educational research
professional journals.

So what would the NCTQ authors consider "serious
scholarship"? These authors criticize the methodology
of the NRP from several points of view (meta-analysis
incorrectly done, meta-analysis results not correctly
interpreted, restriction to experimental methologies,
missed studies, etc.).

Perhaps the most common criticisms of the NRP report
are; the meta-analysis, done incorrectly yielded a
"small" effect size (ES) not a"moderate" effect size
as the report states (systematic phonics accounted for
only 4% of the variance in achievement using their
data and for only 1% of the variance when the
meta-analysis is done correctly. But neither suggests
phonics instruction as shown by the NRP report
produces much difference in reading outcomes; most
outcomes for phonics were observed only when subjects
read nonsense words or regular words from a list (no
effect on readinmg fluency or comprehension);
thatmost studies reviewed involved add-on, pull-out
interventions not reform of classroom lessons and so
few inferences can be drawn about what effects might
result from adding systematic phonics, or phonemic
awareness lesson to classroom instruction; that the
NRP reviewed only a subset of the research available
although they noted some dozen or so areas of research
that they felt needed to be reviewed.

So, in my view, you've got a poorly designed and
conducted study based on a widely criticized federal
report. Then, that "study" was sent directly to the
press and to deans with no peer review.

What the NCTQ did not investigate, but I would, is how
many of the people teaching these courses met the IRA
standards for reading/literacy professors (e.g.,
doctorate in reading/literacy) and how many were
education "generalists", graduate teaching assistants,
adjuncts, and so on?

Shame on AACTE for uncritically promoting the
distribution of this fundamentally flawed piece of

Dick Allington

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