February 14, 2007



“Whole Language” Report Tells Only Partial Truth

Report Misrepresents Research and Blatantly Promotes Author’s Own Product


Contact: Teri Battaglieri (517) 203-2940 (e-mail)

                Richard Allington (865) 974-1920 (email)


EAST LANSING, Mich. – A new Fordham Institute report that purports to unmask whole-language reading instruction as “unscientific” is more a promotion of commercial reading materials written by its author than an unbiased report on effective reading instruction.


The report, Whole Language High Jinks: How to tell when ‘scientifically-based reading instruction’ isn’t by Louisa Moats, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Richard Allington, a professor at the University of Tennessee, past president of the International Reading Association and member of the Reading Hall of Fame.


Allington puts the Fordham report in the context of longstanding debate over reading instruction.


“Over the past 60 years, the so-called reading wars have pushed the nature of effective reading instruction into the political realm,” Allington writes. “While those advocating whole language approaches were in the ascendancy a couple decades ago, the phonics adherents have had the most political success of late, often preventing teachers and schools of education from keeping whole language approaches in their tool boxes.”


The Fordham report contends that supporters of whole-language instruction have managed to thwart the advance of so-called scientifically-based reading instruction. It asserts such scientific research supports systematic phonics instruction.  However, the report fails to provide convincing research supporting this contention.  Moats, the report’s author, exaggerates the findings of research she does cite and incorrectly dismisses approaches that are, in fact, well-supported by research, Allington finds.


“Perhaps most disturbingly,” Allington adds, Moats “touts primarily commercial curriculum products distributed by her employer -- products that have far fewer published studies of effectiveness than the products and methods she disparages.” He notes that she specifically promotes products that she herself authored.


 Find the complete review by Richard Allington as well as a link to the Fordham Institute report at:


About Think Twice

The Think Twice project provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected think tank publications. It is a collaboration of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University and the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.


The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to identify, develop, support, publish and widely disseminate empirically sound research on education policy and practices designed to improve the quality of public education for all students within the Great Lakes Region. 

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