Reading Instructional Timeline

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Reading Instruction: A Historical Timeline 1700s–mid-1800s: Children are taught to read through memorization of the alphabet, practice with sound-letter correspondences, and spelling lists. The prevailing texts used for teaching reading are the Bible and political essays. Mid-1800s: Inspired by Jeffersonian democratic ideals, some educators attack phonics and urge a meaning-based approach to learning to read. Late 1800s: All-purpose reading materials are replaced by graded readers designed to match a child's age and ability. 1930s–1970s: A look-say or whole word (not whole language) approach, exemplified by the “Dick and Jane” reading series, dominates reading instruction in schools. Instruction emphasizes comprehension. 1957: Rudolph Flesch's best-selling book, Why Johnny Can't Read, urges a return to phonics instruction. In a sharp political and emotional attack, Flesch accuses the whole word approach “of gradually destroying democracy.” 1967: Jeanne Chall's book, Learning to Read: The Great Debate, is published. Chall continues to advocate for direct instruction in phonics. Early 1970s: The Initial Teaching Alphabet (ITA), a phonetic alphabet, is used to teach reading in Great Britain and some school systems in North America. 1970s: The whole language philosophy, which has diverse intellectual roots in Australia, Europe, and North America, emerges. The philosophy promotes a meaning-based approach to learning to read. Mid-1970s: Research on reading shifts from a focus on texts to an emphasis on how readers construct meaning. 1984: The National Academy of Education releases Becoming a Nation of Readers, a report on the status of research in reading education. 1988: Researcher Marie Carbo reanalyzes Chall's earlier research on reading, calling some of the data analysis into question. A lengthy research debate ensues. 1990:Beginning to Read, a landmark

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