Scientifically-Based Research in Education
Of course, it would be nice if it were easy to standardize reading education across all schools, for all students. This would make instruction much easier for instructors as well as students. But students alas, are not machines and what works for one gifted student may not work for another student with a learning disability. The allure of easy standardization of educational methodology in something as difficult to teach as reading, however, partially explains appeal the REA, or Scientifically-Based Reading Research approach. This approach is advocated by the National Reading Panels methodological overview. Although the NRP proclaims its neutrality, in its actual language it stresses a “phonics awareness” based approach. This approach involves teaching children to focus on and manipulate phonemes in spoken syllables and words. It involves teaching children to blend or segment the sounds in words using letters. (NIH, 2004)
However, What Really Matters for Struggling Readers — Designing Research-Based Programs by Richard L. Allington stresses the need to promote reading fluency by encouraging enjoyment and encouraging even the youngest students to feel as though they have a personal engagement and investment in the reading process.
This is particularly true of slower-starting readers, or students with learning disabilities. Such an investment can be encouraged via tailoring appropriate instructional models and methods that foster fluency in individual readers. Although phonetics awareness may be appropriate for some, an overemphasis of such an approach for other readers may discourage students if they experience initial difficulty with breaking language down to such a degree that they cannot relate it to how they experience print in their ordinary lives.
Allington encourages teachers to always have eye upon using different learning methods tailored to individual student needs and classroom needs. These include pause-prompt-praise, which involves recognizing whole words in context, after being prompted by a teacher. In cohesive student environments.