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Research and Evidence

Based on Research, Supported by Evidence

Decoding and spelling words both depend on knowledge of the alphabetic code. Students from Grade 3 and above should have an in-depth knowledge of how the alphabetic code of English works. For most, this requires explicit instruction that makes clear the many ways that sounds are written, using letters and letter patterns. Without this knowledge, students in the upper grades may not be able to read and write efficiently and fluently at grade level.

The Problem

  • Students in Grades 3 and beyond meet texts that rapidly increase in length and complexity, and include more unusual, multisyllabic, and technical words.
  • Knowledge of the diversity of the alphabetic code is necessary for decoding and spelling complex words. Without it, students may mispronounce words as they read and choose to only use words they can spell as they write.
  • Although students already use the alphabetic code as they read and write, many are not aware of phoneme-grapheme relationships. A conscious understanding of these relationships supports reading and writing complex, unfamiliar words, particularly in new content areas.

The Approach

  • Catch Up Your Code was wriDen to teach students in Grade 3 and beyond to hear and record every sound of English in diverse ways.
  • Students’ oral language is the platform for teaching the diversity of the alphabetic code.
  • The unique Alphabetic Code Assessment provides teachers with evidence of what is already known, and where there are gaps in code knowledge. The assessment can be used to inform instruction, track progress, and measure the impact of instruction on outcome
  • Lessons take just 10 minutes a day and can be completed in a 10-week term, making it possible to catch-up this essential knowledge in a very short time

The Research

  • In 2018, 1220 Grade 3 to Grade 7 New Zealand students, encompassing a diverse demographic, completed the Alphabetic Code Assessment before receiving Catch Up Your Code instruction.
  • Results for writing every sound of English one way, and for writing the sounds of English in diverse ways were compared, and effect size shifts calculated.
  • The writing progress of a group of students was tracked before and after Catch Up Your Code instruction.

Key Findings

  • Explicit instruction using the speech-to-sound-to-print approach, for 47 10-minute lessons showed significant improvements in knowledge of the alphabetic code, with effect size shifts between .6 and 1.0.
  • Improvements in knowledge of the alphabetic code positively impacted writing skills for a target group of student