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[Susan notes: California's fanatic rush to phonics and skill-building has not raised the reading scores of children.]

Published in Reading Today

To the editor

Reading Today's report on the 2002 NAEP scores ("Good news, bad news," August, September 2003) did not mention an important event in the history of literacy education: California still ranks at the bottom of the country and its scores have not improved since 1992.

California's poor performance in 1992 was blamed on whole language. The obvious interpretation of the 2002 results is that California's fanatic rush to phonics and skill-building had no effect.

This is a stunning confirmation of Jeff McQuillan's arguments (The Literacy Crisis: False Claims and Real Solutions, 1998): Whole

language never was the problem. More likely, the low scores are due to the fact that California children have little access to books, a

problem that is just as serious today as it was ten years ago.

Stephen Krashen, Emeritus Professor, USC

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