Whole language wolves in SBRR clothing

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The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is out with another paper revisiting the sorry state of reading instruction. Fordham turns to prominent reading expert Louisa Moats, who is clearly fed up with the slow progress being made on improving reading instruction. Moats states that too many schools continue to use discredited and ineffective practices, particularly under the heading of "balanced literacy," largely because textbook publishers have convinced these schools that their programs are scientifically based when they're anything but. Moats provides important, detailed information on how schools should evaluate reading programs, providing clear guidance on strategies that should be included, as well as identifying specific practices that have not been proven to work by scientific research.

The paper is most notable for its willingness to name names: identifying all sorts of wolves in sheep's clothing, including Four Blocks and Reading Recovery. Misguided districts don't get off the hook either. Denver, Salt Lake City and New York City, asserts Moats, have all adopted 'pseudo-SBRR' balanced literacy programs.

We can't help but notice the irony in all this, with Reading First continuing to be roundly criticized for its conscientious handling of programs called out by Moats for labeling themselves as SBRR but paying only lip service--at best--to scientific reading research. It seems that many think Reading First should have let the wolves pull the wool over our eyes.