In the article, McWhorter begins by noting that spelling in the English language is anything but consistent. When words like no, know, and gnome are all pronounced similarly, it’s no wonder children sometimes struggle when learning to read. However, using phonics-based, explicit reading instruction gives children the tools they need to decipher inconsistencies and make progress in their literacy journey.
McWhorter highlighted the key findings of a study conducted in the 1960s, called “Project Follow Through.” In the study, education scholar Siegfried Engelmann implemented the phonics-based Direct Instruction (DI) program in 10 sites nationwide that taught 75,000 children using phonics-based DI. The study saw overwhelming success with many four-year-olds reading at an eight-year-old reading level. Importantly, the study also found that DI worked for ALL students, regardless of race or background.