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[Susan notes: There is a lot of information packed into this letter.]

Published in Education Week

Dead Wrong

Those who maintain that whole language lacks scientific support (Ziffer, Leppin, Letters 2/27) have not examined the research. In addition to Kenneth Goodman's empirical and scientifically valid studies, and the many studies reviewed in detail in Frank Smith's Understanding Reading, current research firmly shows that the core hypothesis of whole language, the hypothesis that literacy is developed by understanding texts, is correct. Those who read more read better, write better, have larger vocabularies and have more control over complex grammatical constructions. This conclusion is not based on "unreliable anecdote," as Leppin claims, but on scientific research.

In their review of the reading research, the National Reading Panel has concluded otherwise, but the NRP's conclusions do not match what the studies actually say. This has been thoroughly documented in recent papers in the Phi Delta Kappan by Elaine Garan (see also her recent book, Resisting Reading Mandates), Gerald Coles, and myself.

Comparing research supporting to whole language to the black arts (Ziffer) and to research on hairspray and bubble gum (Leppin) is not just unprofessional. It is also dead wrong.

Stephen Krashen
Professor of Education
University of Southern California

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