RCrORT RESUMES ED 019 198 RE 001 220 BASAL READER PROORAMS--HOW DO THEY STAND TODAY. BY- £'AICERf RALPH C. PUB DATE APR 68 EDRS PRICE MF>S0.25 NC>$0.e4 14P. DESCRIPTORS- 4READfN6 MATERIALS* 4BASIC READING* READING RESEARCH* 4READIMG INSTRUCTION* WORD RECOGNITION* ORAL READING* SILENT READING* READABILITY, THE DEVELCPKEN7 OF THE BASAL READER FROM ITS BEGINNINGS IN THE LATE 1700*5 TO ITS STATUS IN THE GRADED SCHOOLS OF TODAY IS SURVEYED. THE MCGUFFEY READERS ARE CITED AS THE first carefully graded SERIES OF ONE READER FOR EACH GRADE IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. SINCE THEN* CHANGES IN CONTENT* TYPOGRAPHY, IN QUANTITY AND QUALITY OF ILLUSTRATIONS* BINDING* AND IN SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS HAVE BEEN RADICAL. THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF READING AND THE MEASUREMENT OF READING ABILITY have GIVEN RISE TO THE IMPORTANCE OF SILENT READING* THE TEACHER'S MANUAL* AND SUPPLEMENTARY SEATWORK MATERIALS. PRESENTLY, THE MOST TELLING CRITICISMS OF BASAL SYSTEMS CONCERN THE LACK OF INCORPORATION OF RESEARCH FINDINGS IN THEIR METHODOLOGY. FIFTEEN COUCLUSIONS ARE PRESENTED AS IMPORTANT INFLUENCES WHICH MAY SHAPE THE PRIMARY LEVEL BASIC READER PROGRAM OF THE FUTURE. QUESTIONS ARE POSED CONCERNING THE INFLUENCE OF HIGH SPEED TECHNOLGOY , COMPUTER-ASSISTED INSTRUCTION, AND TELEVISION UPON THE ADOPTION OF NEW IDEAS INTO BASAL READERS. REFERENCES ARE LISTED. <X) Ch UJ R?Tph C. StaiR-'r Univorsl y of D*^lawriro 4 , s, OF education »»TSSSS3Si« . ( BASAL READER PROGRAMS: HOW DO THEY STARD TODAY? w w © o ERIC Only a few years ago it was incomprehensi'ble to many teachers that reading could he taught without the use of hasal readers. In the last decade we have seen many innovative methods which have used other approaches to learning to read. A summary of some of these has just been published by the International Reading Association, entitled A Decade of Innovations : Approaches to Beginning Reading . This was one of the outcomes of our last convention, during which a series of meetings on this topic was held. I shall not at this time list these innovations, but will leave them to your reading. We are to discuss basal readers today. George Santayana once suggested that the man who does not know history is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. It would appear that we should examine the kinds of materials which have been used in other times by children learning to read. Again, there are references which will provide an excellent background in the history of reading instruction, such as Nila Banton Smith’s American Reading Instruction also published by IRA and Mitford Matthews’ Staiger - 2 Teaching ^ Read : Historically Consider^ issued hv the University of Cliicago P)’ess. Letters were "Graced in sand, dust, clay, and wax aiiA wooden tiles w .r , used by pupils learning their letters evr^n before the first century. The Horn Book, with its protective sheath of cow’s horn to protect the precious piece of paper with inscribed letters, syllables and religious selections was known to many children in Europe and America. The primer’s name, according to Smith, was derived not from the fact that it was the child’s first book, but because it contained, in the Middle Ages, the primary essentials of religious knowledge-the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and a few Psalms. Gradually the alphabet, lists of syllables and words were added to this religious manual and it became the standard book of instruction in reading. During the late Middle Ages the ABC book developed; this might be con- sidered the textbook edition of the primer which, after all, was not a schoo], book, but an expensive manual for use In church services. The fifteenth century Enschude Abecedarlum contained the alphabet, the Pater Noster, the Ave Marla, the Credo, and two prayers. It is Important to remember that these progenitors of modern readers, primer, the hornbook, and the ABC book, developed together and were derived from one another. American Readers^ The New England Primer, which went through twenty-two editions from 1T2T to 1776, was the first book designed for schools in the American colonies. It was a very popular book, but was eventually supplanted as an Instructional tool by various spellers, the most noteworthy of which was Noah Webster’s The American Spelling Book, which was really one of a series of three readers Stalger - ? vtiloh evolved out of the sections of Ms '!7B3 publication, Grammatical Institute. Section I was the spelling and reading beginner's book, Section II containel a treatise on grammar, and section III, leslgneO for advanced Instruction In academies, Included "An American Selection of :>ssons In Reading and Speaking. The parts were printed separately in 1T90, and an intermediate reader was soon found necessary. SS I-ittle Reader 's A ssistant .which bridged the gap between the "blue back speller" and the advanced book of readings became the first set of consecutive readers in the history of American reading Instruction. Thus our basal reading series began, soon to be followed by Caleb Bingham's readers, Lyman Cobb's readers, George Hilliard's readers, Idndley Murray's readers, and others. During the l840’s and ’50's the graded school was evolving, which encouraged the writers of graded series of readers. The Pestalozzlan emphasis on object teaching and nature encouraged pictures and realistic content, with attention to the principle of moving from the simple to the complex. The flowering of the development of systematic readers was a natural outgrowth of these Influences There was also a movement In the direction of the word method, as opposed to the alphabetic method of teaching beginning reading In the l840's. The first readers which used this method were those of Joslah Bumstead. Most of the teachers In the country continued to used the alphabet method because the majority of textbooks In use advocated It. Many heated debates developed be- tween advocates of the two methods, foreruimers of the debates ^ arguments which were to rage over other methods In later decades, and which are still In evidence. The McGuffey Readers were the first carefully graded series consisting of one reader for each grade In the element EU’y school. They also provided for Stalger - h % repetition of new words on a more than haphazard basis# llielr enormous popu- larity from 1836 to IBT*^ did not diminish until the 19^7 edition appeared# We still hear of people who Insist that their children be taught by the McOuffey Readers. Sl®aiflcantly, the edition Is rarely specified. I shall not attempt to trace the development of basal readers from McOuffey to the present, except to point out that a number of Influences contributed to changes In these textbooks throu^ the years. Apparent to the observer are not (mly changes In content, In typography. In quantity and quality of Illustration, In binding, and In supplenental materials In a series, but also In the vay In which the readers were expected to help a pupil learn to read-- the method. CLahorate phonetic msthoda appeared as a reaction to the word methods nld*mlneteenth century. Controversy between synthetic and analytic approaches to iconics flourished, diacritical markings, and even augaented alphabets aipeared In some series. The word method was expanded Into the sentence and the story method. Bach series reflected the authors' concern for teaching the users of the books to read. The more popular series appeared to be successful In their mission and, equally Important, were attractive mad workable In the eyes of the teachers who used them. Zt Is the quality of saleability which helped shape many of the series. Only during the last few decades has the evidence of research had a direct Influence upon the content and methods used In basal reading proi^ans. Studies of the Interests of children were reflected In the Bison Readers In 1909# which corresponded with the beginnings of research In reading. We must remeBft>er that Gray reported that only 3^ studies In reading had been conducted from 1884 until I910, and l4 of these.ftrom I906-I9IO. Stalger - ? Other changes which resulted from the scientific study of reading were th«^ recognition of the possibility of meas’oring reading ability and an emphasis on teaching silent reading as opposed to oral reading, which heretofore had been almost exclusively used In the teaching of reading* Oral reading is today still the most important tool of many teachers throughout the world, especially in those countries in which education is underdeveloped* nie rise of silent reading brought about the teacher's manual which, if its suggestions were followed, helped the teacher make better use of the series* Teaching silent reading, for most teachers of the 1920*8 and 1930*a,was such a new idea that most authors considered manuals a necessary adjunct of their materials, and publishers provided them without chtrge to teachers using their books* In the wake of the silent reading revolution came supplementary seat work in the form of flash cards, silent reading exercise books, and workbooks* When experience charts for bsginnlng reading were introduced they, too, were incorporated into basal reading programs* Ihe preprimer was provided as a means of preparing children for the arduous task of reading the primer* Eventually, readiness materials and manuals were incorporated into many series* Each of these Innovations was Introduced as an educationally useful tool, but also as a product which met a need which had been expressed by teachers, the ultimate purchasers of the product* If a series was not useful and attractive to the cuatcners, it was not successful* Z have seen the sales records of such a series of readers* The first year after publication, sales were excellent* Ihe authors were well regarded, the ideas behind the series sound, and the sales force active* But during the second year, there was a dramatic drop in sales* TJpon frantic investigation, the publisher's representatives found that neither pupils nor Stalger - 6 teachers liked the books. They found th^^ni :>n storage shelves, unused. A large Investoient of intellectucQ. energy as well as money had gone Into this series, but they failed to achieve their purpose because of this fatal flaw. What Does Research Sayl One of the most telling criticisms cf basal reading systems in Jeanne (Shall *8 M that they do not incorporate the findings of research in their methodology. What are the findings of research? Properly, all reading research is grist for the mill which produces bsssl readers. This indeed has besn the esse. Those individuals who hsve led the building of readers have for the most part been very much aware of that research in reading which is appropriate to their purposes. Uhfortunstely, as most of us know, much of ths published reeding research has been pedestrian, poorly controlled end in need of careful evaluation before being used. In the confusion of unclear findings, conflicting conclusions, and hasy laqpllcatlons, the publishers who plsnned an investment of several million dollars in a series of basal readers looked at the research and then listened carefully to what their customers wanted. Most series of readers were built by educational realists, and are used by teachers who are faced with the realities of the classroom. We can only encourage, as Jeanne Chall suggests, *’... series of coordinated laboratory at well as extensive longitudinal studles-^studles that can give us soma definitive snswers so that we don’t keep researching the same issues over and over again.” The research studies which relate specifically to basal readers were rslatively few. An examination of the literature revealed only 21T such Stalgcr - T studies, l6l of which were conducted 19^ ?H Although categorizing these atudlee 1. not always valia-^.«. stndl-s do not land th«»elva. to dl.or.tr elasslflcatlon-^ble I Indicates the relative grouping of these studies. TABI£ I Categories of Studies Relating to Basal Readers 1890-19^7 Category Vocabulary analysis or coin(psrlson Content analysis or comparison Method analysis or comparison Qeneral treatment Criteria for selection Readsibillty Physical characteristics Amplification of content Interest characteristics Preparation of readers 59 *♦9 kl 33 10 8 5 5 4 3 Ihe ease with which wort. he counted 1. prohdbly one reason for the great mrtber of voc*ulary studies. A great many of them were masters theses. The concern for selecting wisely was not reflected only In the "Criteria for Selection- category. The purpose of many of the vocabulary art content analysis studies was obviously to obtain data for’^Ieleotlon of materials. This resson could he il.«»d from the title, of the studies. All of the "Amplification of Crttent" itudle. appeared before series Included supplementary naterlala. A surge In compsratlv. studies of methodology appemred In 1967, when the U.B. Office of Bducatlon-sponsored first grade studies began to appear. In the report of the Coordinating Center of the Cooperative Research Program In nrst Orrte Reading Instruction, the Basal Reading Program reached the statue of being used as a henohwk against which each of the less traditional non- basal progrrts was maasuzed. Bond and Dykstra said. The basal reading ’ -it.-wa.JWiW .. v»a*.'»wx »> A Simiit w i ,lM » i> i Stalger - fi program* • •wa* considered an entity oven tliough the programs of many publieh^^rs were used* The various sets of materials in this category posses most^ if not all, of the following characteristics: 1. Vocabulary is Introduced slowly and repeated often* Vocabulary control is based on frequency of usage rather than on regularity of Bound-synibol relationships* 2* Phonic analysis is Introduced gradually and usually only after sons **sliht" words have been taui^t. However, from the beginning the child is encouraged to use such other word recognition Skills as context, structural analysis and picture clues* 3* Bqphasis ftpom the beginning is placed not only on word recognition but on oonprehension and interpretation of what is read* 4* Silent reading Is s^^iMtsissd early in the progr«i* 5* The virious reading Skills are introduesd and developed systematically* 6* A well^own Basic Heading Seriss is used as the najor Instructional tool*" This description is a useful sunnary of the eharsoteristies of present-day basal reading programs at the primary level* The basal reader method as an entity has important weakneases when utilised as a criterion or control method for a atatistioal treatment of differences in test scores, however* The Individualistic nature of the studies whose data were turned over to the Center <U,ctated by Washington and the Coordinating Center had to do the best it could with the data it received. If the design of the 27 constituent studies had been controlled by the Center, a more realistic methodology would doubt- less have been utilised* The findings of the Coordinating Center were voluminous, snd appeared In the amusr Issue, 1967 of the Reading Research Quarterly* A sunmary of Stalger - 9 (.he 15 ooncltMloM related to the methodolrgy Includes several which relate specifically to basal reading programs, but all are important enough to be mentioned at this time, for they are the Influences which will shape the prl mary level basal reader progran of the funurot la Word study Skills sost be «Bphaslzed wid tau^t systematically regardless of what approach to initial reading Instruction is used# 2. CcBibinations of programs, such as a basal progrwi with sup- plementary phonics materials, often are superior to single approaches* Purthexmore, the success of such methods as the Ixperiwice approach Indicates that the addition of experimoes to any kind of reading program can be expected to make a contribution* 3* Ibmovative programs such as Xdnipxistie readers are especially effective in the word recognition area* The superiority of pf 0 |p(»mmi to 'Kafff'^ progymas is not as .evident in the area of comprehension* It is likely that basal progreaw should develop a more Intensive word study ikills element, while programs which put major eaphasis on word recognition should increase attention paid to other reading skills* l»., 3[t is necessary for teachers to mkke differential expectations concerning mean achievement of boys and girls* On the average, boya cannot be eaqpeeted to achieve at the s«e level as girls, at least with the materials, methods, and teacters Involved in this investigation* A probable explanation from the data of thla etufliy la that boya are leas ready to read when they enter achool* 5. Boya «id glrla do not profit uniquely from any of the programa utilised in thla Inveatigation* On the average, glrla* achieve- ment la auparlor to boya* no matter what approach to beginning » reading la uaed* 8tal0«r • 10 # 6* Beading programs are not equally effective in all situation! • Evidently, factors other than method, within a particular learning situation, Influence pupil aueceaa In reading. 7. Reading achlev«nent la related to other characteristics In addition to those Investigated In this study. Pupils In certain school systems became better readers than piqplls In other school systems even when piqdl characteristics were cootroUed statistically. Itertheimore, these differences In aehieviment from project to project do not seen to be directly relaM to the class, school, teacher, and cuamiinlty <diaraeterlstles appraised In this study. 8. Pupils taught to read by means of a transitional alphdiet such as l.t.a. may experience ©-eater difficulty making the transi- tion to traditional orthography In spalling than they do In reading. Longitudinal InfonMtlcm Is necessary to study this problem. 9. future research adih^ well center on teacher and learning sltuatlcm characteristics rather than method usd materials. The tremendous range among classrooms within any iMthod points out the Importance of elaaents In the learning situa- tion over and above the methods eaq^oyed. To improve reading Instruction, It Is necessary to train better teachers of reading rather than to expect a panacea In the form of materials. 10. Children learn to read by a variety of materials and methods. Pupils becoam successful readers In such vastly different pro- grams as the Experience approach with Its relative lack of structure and vocabulary control and the various Idn- gulstlc programs with their relatively hl|^ degree of structure fyis vocabulary control. Ibrthermore, pi^ls eiQperienced dlfficul- . ty in each of the progrmM utilized. lo one approach Is so distinctly better in all situations and respects than the others that It should be considered the one best method and the one to be used exclusively. [ er|c hiaiffliffliiTiaaij y Staifer * 11 !!• Bie expectation of pupil accomplishment In Initial reading Instruction probably should be raised* Progrms vhleh Intro- duced words at a more rapid pace tended to produce pupils with superior word recognition abilities at the end of the first gt ode* Children today tend to be better equipped for reading Instruction when they enter first grade than they were some years ago and they are probaibly prepared to learn ■ore V(u*ds and develop nore nature study skills than are currently expected of then In nany proptns* 12* Xndlcatlona are that the Initial reading vocabulary should be selected with a greater balance between phonetically regular words sad hl|^ utility words* Xt is likely that Introducing words solely on the basis of frequency of use presents an unuaually conplex decoding task for the begin- ning reader* On the other hand. It appears that presenting only phonetlesUy regular words nakea It very difficult to write ntanlaglhl naterlal* 13* A writing eonponent la likely to he an effective addition to a prlnary reading progrsn* Xh the first place, the liqperienee approadi, which Involves ccnsiderahle written expression, was an effective progrsn of Instruction* Xn addition, prograns such as i*t*a* and Fbonie/Iinguistie, both of which were relatively effective, encourage pupils to write spnibols as they learn to recogaise then and to associate them with sounds* This appears helpfhl to the pupil in learning aound-sysbol relationahipa* IVirthemore, it la likely that writing such ccnnon, hiit irreguOjff, words at the helps the child to connit then to his ai#t voeaibulsry l4* Xt it Inpoatihle to aasess the relative effsetivenesa of pro- grmni unless they are used in the asms project* Project dif- fereneea are to great, even when pupil readiness for reading is controlled, that a progmn utilised in a favored project would denonttrate a distinct advantags over one used in a leaa favored project regardless of the effectiveneaa of the Staiger - 12 15. The relative success of the non-basal programs compared to the basal programs Indicates that reading Instruction can be Improved. It is likely that Improvement would result from adopting certain elements fVom each of the approaches used In this study. The first step would be to determine the ele- ments within the various approaches most la^portant to the success of that program. For example, the l.t*a. and Phonic/ linguistic progrmas, both of which were relatively effective, have in cosswjn a vocabulary controlled cm soimd-symbol regularity, introduction of a relatively large reading vocabu- lary, and emiAiasla on writing symbola as a means of lescmlng them. It would be interesting to know which of these ele- ments, if any, are primarily ^spcaisible for the effectlvenesa of the progran. Perhaps an Instructloiial program which in- corporated the most Important elements of all of the approaches used in the atudy would be a more effective method of teadUng than any currently in use. Is la the Of^ng, as It has been since Hoah Webster wrote the ho<*s i*lch were the progenitors of our presentnlsy basal reaflera. Bach change cas» iron a variety of aources-^he political and cultural ati« 08 ,here of the tls», the Ideaa of an educational Innovator, the l«pcrt«*lon of an Idea tr<m ^her country, or the findings of scientific research. As these Ideas cs>» upon the scene, the nature of the readers In use In the schools changed, provided that the puplli and teachera who used them found them acceptable. Similarly the Hindu religion of Ibdia has changed over the course of many centuries. When a new religious idea appeared, it was eventually absorbed into the pantheon, end, depending upon its accepttfdllty with the people, was incorporated Into the religious life of the country. BegrettAbly, «w>y new Ideas In resdlng have tdcen on a reUglous aspect. Stalger - 13 The fervor of their disciples has overshadowed. In many Instances, the ll#t But those which have been found useful have remalned-«usually In the pafles of a basal reader, or In supplementary materials, or in the suigestlons made in a teacher's manual. Change will continue to take place in basal readers. But one new plmionraoa > has a p p ear ed on the horizon. Jercaw Wlesner, Dean of SclMMse at the Massaohusetts Snstltmta of feehnolotor, recently was reported to have said, **Be. have actually entered a new era of evoltitionary history, one in which rapid change is a dominant consequence. Our only hope is to understand the forces at work and to take advantage of the knowledge we find.” The change of the past was an evolutionary one, in Which gradual acceptance could be waited for. Will gradualism In the adoption of new ideas in basal readers be possible In the era in Which we now llvwt Will the knowledge of the hi|ii speed technology which surrounds us-Hjompoter-assistsd testructioni|A'^^ television, for instmce— permit the gradual adoption of new ideas into basal readto'st Time alone will tell. At present, the educational market provides adequate profits for investments in malor prodects such as basal reader a. Will this also hold in five years? The future will be disquieting to those who abhor change, but it will be interesting.