Another set of studies consists of comparisons of an approach called Direct Instruction with "regular" instruction. In one of the two studies included, the comparison group treatment is unknown. In the other, the Direct Instruction children were superior to comparisons in word reading in grades 5 and 6, three years after the program ended, but performed dismally in reading comprehension (total reading MAT score), with fifth graders scoring at the 16th percentile and sixth graders at the 15th (Becker and Gersten, 1982, table V; comparisons did about the same). This pattern of high scores on decoding tests and lower scores on reading tests is precisely what Garan reported for the impact of intensive, systematic phonics on studies using native speakers of English.
Also, Direct Instruction has only been compared to other skill-based approaches, not to whole language classes in which there is plenty of exposure to interesting, comprehensible books.
One must conclude that there is no convincing evidence supporting the use of intensive, systematic phonics for first or second language readers.
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