At two different workshops last spring, we heard a teacher say that research has shown that if a child does not learn to read using phonics by the end of third grade, they won’t be able to learn by phonics. We do not believe this is true, and it could be a dangerous idea if many teachers begin to believe it.
It is almost impossible to keep up to date on all of the research in the field of reading, even if you are a specialist. However, we are not aware of any research that supports this idea about the ineffectiveness ofof phonics after third grade, and we would welcome any information anyone can provide. If you know of such research being published, please call us at 800-343-1211, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, we personally know of many teachers who have used phonics based-programs successfully with struggling students of all ages – from elementary school pupils to adults. We are not referring only to the Stevenson Program, although, of course, we believe ours to be the most effective phonics-based option. We do believe that there are some students who will not be able to learn phonics without the help of the mnemonic clues used in the Stevenson method. English phonics is, after all, particularly complicated and inconsistent. Not all phonics methods are created equal. But it is neither reasonable nor correct to claim that students who don’t learn through phonics by third grade, won’t be able to learn by phonics at all. This idea is not only wrong but potentially dangerous. There are many struggling readers of all ages who would definitely benefit from effective phonics-based instruction.