by Shawna Audet
What are the best programs to use to teach students how to read? What are the best programs to use to provide reading interventions to students who are suffering from reading failure? How do we rate reading programs so we can find the best one to suit our needs? Finding answers to these questions is critical. Illiteracy is linked to many negative life outcomes so is not an exaggeration to say that our students’ futures depend on it.
For years, I’ve gone to What Works Clearinghouse to gather information about studies that have been done on different literacy programs. I appreciate the mission of What Works Clearinghouse, which is “to be a central and trusted source of scientific evidence on education programs, products, practices, and policies” (WWC, 2024). However, I must admit that I do have some trust issues with them - and I am not alone. In 2017, Timothy Wood published the NIFDI White Paper which examined the complaints that have been made against What Works Clearinghouse. It states that WWC has made serious errors through their “exclusion of relevant research (35% of Quality Reviews), the inclusion of inappropriate studies (39% of Quality Reviews), and the misinterpretation of study findings (82% of Quality Reviews).” I feel grateful for the existence of What Works Clearinghouse because it gives me an easy way to access information on studies and I do think that it plays an important role in guiding educational practice. However, the charges leveled against them leave me wishing that I had somewhere else to turn for research analysis.
Now that you know about my issues with WWC, you can imagine my delight when I discovered another website that is devoted to helping us to understand educational research. Let me introduce you to Pedagogy Non Grata. Pedagogy Non Grata’s mission is to be a “go to source for evidence-based education.” The mission statement sounds like a lofty ambition, but they actually are becoming my ‘go to’ source. They tried to address the issues that got WWC into trouble when they weeded through the available research and came up with their “Language Programs Review” page. On this page they provide the most useful program reviews that I have read to date. I am also impressed with the number of programs that they have reviewed. It was interesting to read their reviews on some of the programs that I know and trust such as Jollyphonics and UFLI Foundations.
I encourage you to check out the "Language Programs Review" page, but if you have time, you should browse the rest of the Pedagogy Non Grata website as well. From articles to podcasts, it is full of great content to help educators make evidence-based choices. If you do check it out, come back and leave a comment on this blog to let me know what you think.
Institute of Education Sciences. (2024). WWC: Quick Reference Resources about WWC processes. WWC | Quick Reference Resources About WWC Processes. https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/WhatWeDo
Joseph, N. (2024). Home. Pedagogy Non Grata. https://www.pedagogynongrata.com/
University of Florida Literacy Institute. (2024). Developed for teachers, by teachers, with teachers. UF Literacy Institute. https://ufli.education.ufl.edu/foundations/
“What Is Jollyphonics?” Jolly Phonics, Jollyphonics Technologies, 2020, https://www.jollyphonicsathome.com/what_is_jp.