SSP and the Science
'...schools must develop selection criteria for choosing classroom reading programs informed by the growing scientific evidence on instructional factors that support early reading development (e.g., Castles et al., 2018; Foorman et al.2017; Rayner et al., 2001). Download paper
The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) aligns with the growing scientific evidence on instructional factors that support early reading development.
So WHO might be spreading the untruth, that SSP is not evidence-based,
and why? What would they gain from spreading this lie?
WHO might be blocking progress with regards to teaching reading, by advising parents or teachers not to use such a well established and highly successful approach?
It is so easy to debunk this claim. They could ask schools for their 'before and after SSP' data in the first instance, for example PM Benchmarking (levels are submitted to education depts, and many depts have an expectation for each grade level eg PM9 in QLD at the end of Prep, PM 5 in SA) NAPLAN or, if in SA, the results from the UK Phonics Screening...
We all know that phonics must be taught so that we can meet the needs of the highest number of students, but HOW should it be taught?
And why would anyone try to stop teachers using an approach that so clearly 'works'?
Why does it 'work'? It aligns with growing scientific evidence on instructional factors that support early reading development
Resisting change is not new however.
This experience is one I know only too well. Remember this ABC news article in 2015?
There was nothing controversial, but someone high up in the SA educational dept decided to tell schools not to attend SSP training or use SSP. After the school had spoken about their improvements, this was bizarre. But its the experience so many of us have while trying to bring about change. The very people who are supposed to be fighting for improvement can be the ones who block it.
The photo shows children using decodable readers. Hardly 'controversial'.
By rejecting decodable readers and the alphabetic code taught using a 'speech to print' approach they were rejecting SoR.
SSP challenges more traditional efforts to teach spelling though repetition and memorisation — it lets students master spelling without learning traditional rules or breaking words into syllables.
Principal Ngari Boehm said the program had improved learning across all year levels and children with learning difficulties had benefited in particular.
"It's really made a significant difference to their learning," she said.
"It's like that key has been turned and the door has been unlocked."
'Students first identify the sounds they can hear in each word and then count how many.
A process called code mapping helps the children link the sounds to letters, educators say.
There is a strong focus on phonemic awareness'
(the reporter was incorrect in stating that there was not ALSO a strong focus on phonics)
Mylor's teachers are not the only ones in Australia exploring the program as a way to boost
spelling and reading skills.
"One of the schools in which 'Miss Emma' did a fair amount of work with last year was Broadbeach [Queensland] and their NAPLAN result this year for their Year threes has been outstanding," the Mylor principal said.
This is a key point. The school team did not pluck SSP out of thin air, or fall for marketing, as there was no paid marketing - I simply added videos of my work to the site, and talked on Facebook about my work.
I have never paid to advertise. Teachers are drawn to it without that. The problem is that many do not trust teachers to make decisions about HOW they teach. Teachers watch me work and want to do what I am doing.
Even when the teacher says they are now a better teacher because I taught them to teach differently, they are ignored. Why would they ignore evidence? Why ignore teachers.
Dr Gould said reports suggesting great improvement in students' results after the SSP program was used could be influenced by teaching staff, much like any "placebo effect".
Yes, teachers who believe in a program are doing to be more enthusiastic. And yes, teacher expectations improve outcomes for children. But if the school dropped Jolly Phonics, used by the vast majority of South Australian schools, and their data was markedly improved, is this not worthy of exploration?
SA is the worst performing mainland state according to NAPLAN and also discussed that year by ABC.
So perhaps teachers SHOULD be looking for something other than the programs the education dept and these groups recommend?
But let's be clear about program selection and this concept of 'evidence-based'.
This idea around what schools should look at when choosing an 'evidence-based' program is clarified here.
'...it is currently impossible for schools to select basal reading programs that adhere to strict evidence-based standards (e.g., ESSA, 2015). As an alternative, schools must develop selection criteria for choosing classroom reading programs informed by the growing scientific evidence on instructional factors that support early reading development (e.g., Castles et al., 2018; Foorman et al.2017; Rayner et al., 2001). Download paper
Read the Science of Reading Cheat Sheet to see what that criterion would look like.
SSP ticks all the boxes!
Five years on, with SSP 'tried and tested' by thousands of teachers, you will note that they still won't endorse it. So it wasn't really about that at all.
When we are seeking solutions to questions such as why so many children struggle to read, we have to ask WHO is a huge part of the problem.