Phonemic Awareness Studies 2000s

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Phonemic Awareness Studies 2000s


Student 1 Sara Sewell

Student 2 Stacee Jennings

Student 3 Crystal Wise

Student 4 Elizabeth Walker

Student 5 June Kent



Supporting Research

Opposing Research





Educators still seek the best method of instruction on teaching young children to read. There still remains much controversy on the exact role that Phonemic Awareness (phoneme detection) has on early literacy development; however, educators on both sides of the argument agree that Phonemic Awareness is a useful approach to early literacy development and this is especially supported by the National Reading Panel. In the following paper one can - -read--about - -several studies that have - -been - -conducted - -beginning - -in the year 2000 . There - are -a rguments both for - -and against - -the teaching - -of phonemic - -awareness. This paper advances arguments both for and against the teaching of phonemic awareness.


Supporting Research


A quantitative meta-analysis evaluating the effects of phonemic awareness instruction on learning to read was conducted by the National Reading Panel (2001). The analysis of effect sizes revealed that the impact of phonemic awareness instruction on helping children acquire Phonemic awareness was large and statistically significant (d=.86). Phonemic instruction exerted a moderate, statistically significant impact on reading (d=.53). Both sight word recognition and reading Comprehension benefited. Phonemic awareness instruction helped different types of children including normally developing readers as well as at risk and disabled readers; preschoolers, kindergarteners, and first graders; low socioeconomic status children as well as middle-high socioeconomic children. Phonemic awareness instruction was more effective when taught with letters, rather than without letters. It was also more effective when taught with either one or two phonemic awareness skills rather than taught with multiple skills. It was more effective in small groups rather than individually or whole class. In conclusion, phonemic awareness was found to be a statistically significant contribution to reading acquisition.


Bishop (2003) conducted another study in which one hundred and three kindergarten students from three schools participated over a period of two years. The measures, which represent Letter Identification, Phonological Awareness (detecting syllables), Phonological Memory and Rapid Automatized Naming, were administered in the fall and winter of the kindergarten year. At the end of the first grade year reading achievement was measured including passage Comprehension, Fluency, sight word recognition, and Decode . In conclusion, the model that combined letter recognition, phonological awareness and rapid automized naming was identified as the best predictor of early reading.


Hulme, Hatcher, Nation, Brown, Adams,& Stuart (2002) conducted a short-term longitudinal study examining the different levels of phonological awareness as predictors of reading ability. The participants were 72 children who consisted of 39 boys and 33 girls, between 5 and 6 years old. The children were given three different tasks to measure their awareness of four phonological units; initial phoneme, final phoneme, Onset and Rhyme. There was an initial assessment and two other times of testing. The initial assessment given was the British Ability Scale-II,a single-word reading test, and the British Picture Vocabulary, Scale 2nd Edition, a receptive vocabulary test. Measures of initial and final phoneme awareness appeared to be better predictors of reading than Onset and Rhyme awareness. Two further analyses were studied composed of older students, mean age of 6.58 and the younger readers. For the younger,less skilled readers, and the older, more skilled readers, the best predictor of reading skill was awareness of initial phonemes.


Ehri and Nunes (2002) present a review of different research studies supporting phonemic awareness as one of the best predictors of how well children will learn during their first two years of school. In one longitudinal study by Share (1984), kindergartners were assessed at the beginning of the school year. The assessment included phonemic segmentation, letter-name knowledge, memory for sentences, vocabulary, father’s occupational status, parental reports of reading to children, television watching, and others. The measurement of reading achievement consisted of the following assessments: 20 high frequency sight words; 26 scrambled story words from the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability; a list of 72 nonsense words;the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability, a standardized reading test consisting of a series of short passages graded for difficulty; and the first 40 spelling items of the Schonell Graded Word Spelling Test-B. Phonemic awareness correlated 0.66 (moderate to high correlation), with reading achievement scores in kindergarten and 0.62(moderate correlation), with scores in the first grade. Results of the research showed that phonemic awareness was the top predictor, along with letter knowledge in predicting how well the children were reading 1 and 2 years later. The reviews of various researchers' findings indicated that students who had superior phonemic awareness were better readers than students with low phonemic awareness.



Opposing Research


Manning and Tsuguhiko take a serious and much needed look at the Phoneme Segmentation Fluency portion of the DIBELS test. This screening is supposed to predict early reading success and suggests that phonemic awareness is a key ability that students must master before they are able to read. In the PSF subtest children are asked to orally segment a word into its three or four phonemes or sounds. For example, a student is given the word tap and they must respond /t/ /a/ /p/. In this study, Manning and Tsuguhiko analyzed the DIBELS, Slosson Oral Reading Test, and writing task scores of 101 first-grade students. Then use the Pearson r to find a correlation between the DIBELS PSF scores and the Slosson Oral Reading Test. The correlation was only .07, extremely weak (Manning & Tsuguhiko, 2006). They also found that 87% of the students were writing with some invented spelling and that the “great majority of children writing at relatively high levels are distributed across the entire range of PSF scores and there are as many low-PSF cases (21-40 percentile) as high-PSF cases (61-100 percentile) writing words at a relatively high level” (Manning & Tsuguhiko, 2006, p.242). This means that phonemic awareness is not an accurate predictor of reading or writing ability (note that the definition of reading is word calling on the Slosson Oral Reading Test). Manning and Tsuguhiko state that their “research found that as children begin to read and write, PA and knowledge of phonics develop gradually and simultaneously” (p.242).


Morris, Bloodgood, and Perney were conducting research to “develop a comprehensive set of kindergarten prereading tasks that would predict reading achievement at the end of the first and second grade, and to determine at what point in the kindergarten year-beginning, middle, or end-the various tasks would exert maximum predictive power” (p.95). They charted the progress of 102 students five times over their first three years of school. The students were assessed on alphabet recognition, beginning consonant awareness, concept of word in text, spelling with beginning and ending consonants, phoneme segmentation, word recognition, and contextual reading. The definition of reading in this study is based on “pre-established levels in accuracy, rate, and comprehension” (p.98). Using stepwise linear regression the researchers found that the greatest correlations between reading achievement and the predictor variables at the beginning of kindergarten were alphabet knowledge (.51) and concept of word (.55). In the middle of kindergarten alphabet knowledge (.64), spelling (.70), and concept of word (.72) had the highest correlations. At the end of kindergarten alphabet knowledge (.68), spelling (.64), word recognition (.71), and beginning consonant (.73) were the best predictors (p.100). Phoneme segmentation was never found to be a good predictor of reading achievement. Morris et al. attribute this finding “to the fact that the spelling task measured a simpler form of phoneme segmentation and thus was more sensitive to early literacy development” (p.103). In simpler terms, spelling is a reading-like task, it is meaningful to students. Segmenting phonemes orally does not have ecological validity; it is not an approximation of the real-life task of reading. Morris et al. provide teachers and researchers with a clear analysis of meaningful predictors of reading, one of which is not phoneme segmentation.





The effectiveness of phonemic awareness instruction is intensely debated among reading researchers. The current decade has seen some of the most informative findings, largely due to the report of the National Reading Panel. Although further research is needed, this report found that phonemic awareness is indeed a good predictor of future reading success. The majority of the research reviewed produced significant successes among students receiving explicit phonemic awareness instruction. The file below illustrates the studies and measures used. While the findings highlight the positive effects of skills instruction, educators should be aware that additional studies are needed on the subject.



For more information, visit the following websites:


Big Ideas in Beginning Reading

Books and Songs to Promote Phonemic Awareness

National Reading Panel Homepage

Official DIBELS Homepage

Powerpoint Presentation Promoting Phonemic Awareness




Bishop, A.G. (2003). Prediction on first grade reading achievement: A comparison of fall and winter kindergarten screenings. Learning Disability Quarterly, 26, 189-200.


Ehri, L.C. and Nunes, S. R. (2002). What Research has to Say About Reading Instruction: The Role of Phonemic Awareness in Learning to Read. Newwark, DE: International Reading Association.


Hulme,C., Hatcher, P.J., Nation, K. Brown, A. Adams, J. & Stuart,G. (2002). Phoneme Awareness is a Better Predictor of early reading Skill Than Onset-Rime Awareness. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 82, 2-28.


Manning, M. & Tsuguhiko, K. (2006). Phonemic awareness: A natural step toward reading and writing. Childhood Education, 82, p.241-243.


Morris, D., Bloodgood, J, & Perney, J. (2003). Kindergarten predictors of first- and second-grade reading achievement. The Elementary School Journal, 104(2), p.93-109.


National Reading Panel. (2001). Phonemic awareness instruction helps children learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel’s meta-analysis. International Reading Association, 36, 250-287.

Commentary by Vanessa Avis

Ladies your paper is well written and I believe you have cited excellent references. While looking through materials on your topic I found an interesting tidbit that suggested the teacher's lack of understanding about phonemic awareness, as well as, how to teach it and exactly what should be taught to promote early reading impacts student achievement as much as the student's skills. In case you are interested the reference is below.


Pressley, Michael (2006). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching.New York:The Guilford Press.

Commentary by Cynthia Boles

I was assigned #26 (June Kent), but my comments are for the entire group.


Wow! I also worked in a group to create a wiki page and understand the difficulty of compiling several people's research into one cohesive paper. Your paper flows very well and doesn't appear to be written by a bunch of different people. Good Job!


I only have a few observations/quetions:

  • Should there be an in-text reference citation after the first paragraph under the "Supporting Research" section?
  • In paragraph that begins with "Ehri and Nunes (2002)presents..." drop the "s" from presents, or change the sentence to read, "The Ehri and Nunes study (2002) presents...". Also, the sentence at the end of the paragraph that reads, "The reviews of variousresearchers'" should have a space between "various" and "researchers'"
  • In the paragraph that begins with "Hulme, Hatcher, Nation, Brown, Adams,& Stuart (2002)..." you might consider a link to phonemes.


I hope this helps!

Commentary by Sara Mcginnis


Ladies, You all have done a great job on this page. I was very impressed that you were able to get some much information into two pages. I know that we had a hard time with the 1980's and I know that there is twice as much information out about Phonemic awareness in 2000's. I think that it is well put together and easy to follow. Venessa and Cynthia hit all of the little things that may need to be changed. I agree with them and really can't see anything that needs to be addedd. I really liked you external links. Great job!

Commentary by Caryn Bell


I was amazed at the extensive research this wiki article embodied. When this topic was announced, I was hesitant to sign up for it because I was afraid it would be difficult to find pertinent information. I knew there would be substantial data via the internet, but I was unsure about the print resources available. I was pleased to discover that you guys were able to successfully balance print and electronic resources. From the conclusive and glaring data presented in your article, it is clear that you guys have done your homework. In addition, the information is presented in a logical, concise, and organized fashion. You include a brief introduction and conclusion which makes the article user friendly. In addition, I like the fact that you all have emphasized the idea that according to Bishop's study the model that combined letter recognition, phonological awareness, and rapid automized naming was identified as the best predictor of early reading. This notion is confirmation to us that combining all three of these components in phonics instruction will yield successful results in terms of reading achievement. While this article is grammatically clean and organized, my suggestion for revision is to break the jargon down into layman's terms. Perhaps, it is my lack of expertise in the area of reading research, but at times, it seems as if a machine wrote the information, not a person. Certainly, the information is factual in nature which lends itself to a more professional tone. However, providing analogies, definitions, or associations might make the data more meaningful. For instance, when you say "phonemic awareness correlated 0.66 with reading achievement scores in kindergarten and 0.62 with scores in the first grade," what exactly does this data suggest? What does it mean to us as educators? Nonetheless, a phenomenal article!


Commentary by Carolyn Morin


Great job! This group did a great job covering this topic. My only suggestion is to add some examples in order to make the data more meaningful.


Commentary by Christy Nobles


It never ceases to amaze me that you can squeeze a whole decade of information into two pages. I think that your group did an outstanding job accomplishing this feat. I would agree that it was very well written and that your links were inforamtional and important to your topic. I enjoyed reading your page and think that your group did a great job!






Commentary by Deborah Louie


My comment assignments were for Elizabeth and June and all I can say is: Bravo!! I found your reading very concise and to the point and also very enlightening. I like the way you contrasted the research very much. I could not find any spelling or grammar errors. Your examples were perfect. Overall, a very nice summary!

Commentary by Suzanne Pfeiffer


I was assigned #24 (Crystal Wise), #25 (Elizabeth Walker) and #26 (June Kent), however my comments are directed to the entire group.

Great job, ladies! I appreciate the organization of your page. Its helpful having the research separated into supporting vs. opposing and your supplemental pages (ex: ecological validity) made it much easier to fully understand the ideas being presented.

I have one question with regard to the Hulme paragraph. When describing the study the sentence reads, "There was an initial assessment and two other times of testing." I'm curious as to when those times occurred. Was the assessment given during the middle and at the end of the Kindergarten year?

Commentary by Amanda Hatten


Great job on this WIKI. The only thing I would add might be a quick sentence about why you chose each of the external links, maybe things included on these pages that you found especially helpful or how you would use the information.

Commentary by Kathi Crittenden

The introduction was good, but the last sentence might be better worded like this: “In the following paper you can read about several studies that have been conducted in the year 2000; these articles offer arguments both for and against the teaching of phonemic awareness.” The paragraphs on the study had very good information and the graphs were really aesthetically pleasing. I also liked how you remained positive in the conclusion, but also acknowledged that there is still work to be done in the field.

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