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Celebrating 20 Years of Evidence-Based Education and SpellRead

What does "evidence-based" really mean?

Thu, Nov 15, 2018 @ 11:24 AM

 

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When it comes to evidence-based practices, we sometimes think about doctors - professionals who help patients based on past medical research. No two patients are exactly alike, but doctors know they can rely on the evidence that has been produced over the years to help their patients. Similarly, no two of our students are exactly alike, but we know that we have the right evidence-based program to help them build the skills that they need. That's the power of evidence.

Something is considered "evidence-based practice" if: 

  • there is robust support. 
  • group designed studies and research.
  • a large series of single-case design studies.

Having the privilege to be labeled as "evidence-based" is not a small feat and should carry a lot of weight to an individual or parent that is considering their child's learning needs or their own. Foundational literacy skills should not be left to chance regardless of a child's race, gender, socio-economic status, presence of a learning difference, diagnosis of a neurological disorder and so on.

The list is endless. Intelligent, hard working individuals with huge hearts have worked tirelessly to develop programs that work - particularly in reading. We believe parents today are more and more aware of the impacts that the "Reading Wars" of the 1980s are having on our children today.  

"Reading is the most studied aspect of human learning."
- quote for Emily Handford's documentary, Hard Words: Why aren't our kids being taught to read?

Despite the Marianas Trench of research identifying the 5 core components required for effective reading instruction, our students are still not being taught to read effectively or efficiently. 

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How did SpellRead become an evidence-based reading intervention program?

We at Halifax Learning love to celebrate the origins of the SpellRead program. SpellRead was created by a parent from Prince Edward Island desperately searching for effective reading instruction for her child. She was inspired to help her son, who is deaf, learn to read in a way that works for people of all abilities. One really important piece of her story, that we sometimes don't emphasize as much as we should, is the fact that Kay is a life-long educator and researcher. In creating SpellRead, Dr. MacPhee used research and evidence.

Once Kay had created SpellRead and had taught it successfully, the program was evaluated in various research projects, like in this study on elementary-aged students, and this larger-scale study. SpellRead continues to be evaluated, like in this recent study with students in Halifax's Youth Advocacy Program, and in a current study being done by the NeuroCognitive Imaging Lab at Dalhousie University. These studies consistently demonstrate that SpellRead offers effective, sustainable results. 

Delivering an evidence-based program is important because sometimes there are strategies that seem like they might work, but actually have no benefit or introduce bad habits and compensatory strategies. Our students tell us all the time that they've been taught to guess an unfamiliar word based on a picture, or to skip over the word and then come back to it later.

These strategies might seem sufficient, but they have not been proven and often get in the way of the actual process of learning to read. Anecdotally we find that this type of instruction becomes ineffective for a high number of students around grade 3. As students begin to progress more heavily into reading content without pictures, these compensatory strategies are no longer an option and student's comprehension, productivity and enthusiasm for reading is impacted in a very negative way. 

It's so important that we understand there is science behind reading education, and that it has actually been studied a lot over the years (which makes sense, considering how vital it is to have strong reading skills). Not all methods of reading instruction are equal. Here are 9 questions to ask when evaluating an reading program. We know what works to teach, and we know how to teach it.

How do know if your child is being taught to read the right way? Download our document, "All Children Reading Well" or Contact us today to book a free assessment. 

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Halifax Learning

Written by Halifax Learning