On-Demand Webinar
Recent Advances in Understanding Word-Level Reading Problems: Implications for Assessment and Effective Intervention

Enjoy the webinar! For more information about how CORE can work with your district or school to help special education and regular education teachers build their instructional knowledge of evidence-based practices and interventions that address word-level reading and other reading difficulties, please contact CORE’s founder and author of the Teaching Reading Sourcebook and Assessing Reading: Multiple Measures, Linda Diamond at 888.249.6155 ext. 3 or send us an email.

Webinar Transcript

Speaker 1: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us for today’s webinar, Recent Advances and Understanding Word-Level Reading Problems, Implications for Assessment and Effective Intervention. We appreciate your taking the time out of your busy schedules to participate in today’s webinar and we also appreciate our sponsor CORE, the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education. Before we begin, I’d like to review just a few quick housekeeping items. We welcome your questions and encourage you to send them in at any time during the webinar. We’ll answer your questions throughout the presentation and also during a Q&A period that we’ll hold at the end. To send a question, use the questions feature in your control panel. Just type your question into the top box and click send. I’ll receive your question and I’ll put it in the queue to get it answered. If you experience any technical difficulties during the webinar, please use that same questions feature to get my attention and I’ll do my best to resolve the problem for you.

Speaker 1: We will be sharing a recording of the webinar with you as well as a copy of the slide deck. I’m, we’ll be sending that out tomorrow. So keep an eye on your email for details on how to access those materials. Will also be posting them to the core website, which is corelearn.com. Now let’s get started. I’m pleased to welcome today’s speaker, Dr. David Kilpatrick. Dr. Kilpatrick is a professor of psychology for the State University of New York College at Cortland and is also in New York state certified school psychologist with 28 years’ experience practicing in schools. Dr. Kilpatrick has been teaching courses in learning disabilities and educational psychology since 1994. His reading research focuses on word-level reading and reading disabilities. And he’s the author of two books on reading, Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties and Equipped for Reading Success. We’re honored to have Dr. Kilpatrick here with us today to share his research and insights. I know many of you use his books in your practice and are excited to hear from him. So I’m going to go ahead and turn the program over to him now.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Thank you. The objectives for this hour are pretty lofty actually. We’re going to go to a pretty good pace. Hopefully I’m not going to sound too much like a carnival barker, but we’ve got a lot to get through and hopefully I’ll leave some time for questions and answers at the end. I’m basically fitting about a two hour presentation into an hour. So I got to talk pretty fast. So the first thing that we’d like to do is talk about sight vocabulary. How do you develop sight vocabulary? And that is the basis for fluency. Kids with large sight vocabularies move through text very easily because the words are familiar, kids with limited sight vocabularies, they have problems with fluency because there too many words that trip them up. And then why do some kids struggle in this process? And finally touching on toward the end, looking at the most effective components for preventing and remediating reading difficulties and really prevention and remediation are going to work best if we understand what it is that is the problem in the first place and how reading is supposed to work and why some children struggle.

Dr. Kilpatrick: A few key terms for this afternoon distinguishing between auditory and phonological, auditory has to do with all the sounds we take in, in our environment. A phonological just has to do with the sounds and spoken language.

Speaker 1: Dr. Kilpatrick, I’m just going to interject and we’re not seeing your slides. Are you sharing the screen?

Dr. Kilpatrick: Yeah. The whole screen right now is shared.

Speaker 1: Let’s see. Can you try … Yeah, let’s try to back out and see if we can get them to pop up.

Dr. Kilpatrick: You see it now?

Speaker 1: Nope.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Yeah, I’ve been going through the screens here. I’m on like slide four, five. Yeah, four.

Speaker 1: We’re just seeing you.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Oh, that’s pretty scary.

Speaker 1: Well, you look wonderful and, but I know we want to see your content too.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Yeah. Is there another, let me see if there’s … How do I do the share screen again?

Speaker 1: Let me take back control and then I’ll give it and we’ll try it again and folks I apologize for the delay, but we will get this worked out and get back on track.

Dr. Kilpatrick: All right. How about now is? Is my screen-

Speaker 1: Yes, now we got it.
Dr. Kilpatrick: Okay.

Speaker 1: So I think if you go to full screen-

Dr. Kilpatrick: You see it?

Speaker 1: Yap. We’re good.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Oh, oops.

Speaker 1: Oops.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Is it up now or no?

Speaker 1: Yes. Yup. We see key terms to understand this presentation. Yup. Perfect.

Dr. Kilpatrick: So phonological has to do with all those sounds of spoken language, both in terms of producing them and proceed, excuse me, perceiving theme, where phonemic has to do with the individual phonemes and spoken language and phonemes and spoken language only gain their reality when you compare one word and another. So had and hat differ by only a phoneme, hat and hit differ by only a phoneme. It gains importance once again, when you writing system is based upon a phonemes rather than on whole words. Orthography versus orthographic. That’s just a fancy way of saying the correct letter order. The proper way to write something in a given language system. And what we’re going to be talking about today is orthographic memory. How do we remember the words we read? Those letters in that particular order that jumps out at us.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Phonological awareness versus phonics. So Phonics has to do with written language and it’s been around for centuries. A phonological awareness is rather new on the scene. It was first developed and understood in the speech pathology and linguistic fields in the 1950s and 60s. It wasn’t till the late 60s that they connected it to reading. So phonological awareness has to do with spoken language. Phonics has to do with written language. Decoding is a rather slippery term, it gets used in a broad sense of reading words as opposed to comprehending. It also gets used in a narrow sense of what you do when you come across the word you don’t know, you decode it. Well, I don’t like that ambiguity. So what I do when I talk about word reading as opposed to comprehension, I use the term word-level reading or word reading. And if I talk about when you come to a word you don’t know, you use phonics decoding. In other words, you sound it out.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Sight word and sight vocabulary. Very important to understand this term. Sight, vocabulary, sight word particularly. The term sight word gets used in education in multiple ways. And that’s a problem because you have different concepts being referred to by the same term. So sometimes sight word is used to refer to those high frequency words we teach you early on with children. Researchers instead call those high frequency words. The term sight word is often used to refer to irregular words that you can’t sound out phonically very well. But researchers call those irregular words. That’s a different concept. Deserves a different term. You can have high frequency, regular words or irregular words and you can have low frequency, regular words or irregular words, different concepts. We have to keep them straight.

Dr. Kilpatrick: So researchers use the term sight word exclusively for one concept. And that is any word, high frequency or low frequency, a regular or irregular that is familiar or known to the individual and jumps out at them instantly. In other words, a known or familiar word is a sight word. The sight word vocabulary of course refers to all the words that a person knows regardless of frequency or regularity. And the other term that researchers use for sight word vocabulary is orthographic lexicon.

Dr. Kilpatrick: I have to apologize. I’ve been fighting an illness the last few days, so that’s why I’m doing coughing and my voice is probably scratchier than normal. There’s two different levels of word reading that we have to take account of and it seems that many of our remediation approaches, we focus mostly on one. And that’s the first. What distinguishes skilled readers from poor readers is first of all, their ability to sound out unfamiliar words. Skilled readers are very good at that. Make no mistake. All skilled readers of an alphabet based writing system, have phonics skills. Either they were taught them or they figured them out on their own. How do we know this? We know this because any skilled reader pass third grade, I mean you can kind of fake your way through kindergarten first and maybe start running out of steam and second without this. But if you are a skilled reader from third grade on, if someone shows you nonsense words, you can read them.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Maybe not quite as well as someone who was phonically trained. But you still can read nonsense words. And the only way you could do that is if you know the various sound values of letters. So phonics, what we would call letter sound skills, letter, sound knowledge, those are not optional for reading an alphabet based writing system and all skilled readers have that. But here’s the other thing, skilled readers are good at remembering the words they read. What we’re going to learn a little bit later based on a number of studies is that from late second grade on, skilled readers only require seeing a word one to four times. That’s it. One to four times and then they have it. And once you remember and learn a new word, you don’t forget it. But the kind of kids that we’re here to talk about, the struggling readers, who knows how many times, I don’t know of a specific study that looks at that.

Dr. Kilpatrick: I mean, I saw a couple of studies where they cut it off after 16 or 18 exposures, they still didn’t get it. So there’s a big difference there compared to one to four exposures. And most of those were older kids, not second graders. So skilled readers are not good at remembering the words they read and the focus of today’s presentation is on the second item, but you can’t get to the second without the first. Again, we don’t have any skilled readers who can do the second, are good at remembering the words they read that can’t read nonsense words. And it’s all based on the alphabetic principle. So you could have, there are a few different Chinese languages. One in the West we call Mandarin and other we call Cantonese. And if you have two people speaking those languages exclusively, they would have a hard time communicating with each other because they’re different languages.

Dr. Kilpatrick: But it’s quite possible the two of them could read the same newspaper at the same time. How does that happen? Well, it happens because the writing system is not keyed into the individual phonemes within spoken speech. That’s how alphabetic writing is. It turns out that in alphabetic writing systems like English or German or French or Spanish, we don’t write words. We write phoning characters and then we string them together and we call them a written word. So what we’re writing is sequences of characters that are designed to capture the phonemes within spoken words. And so if you have poor access to phonemes, cognitively and linguistically, then you’re going to struggle reading an alphabet base, a phoning based writing system, which really is what an alphabet base writing system is. Now, here’s what’s interesting. Phoneme skills are necessary both for sounding out new words but also remembering words.

Dr. Kilpatrick: The second one is not obvious at all but we’re going to learn about that and we’re going to learn what the orthographic learning research has taught us about that over the last 35, 40 years. Let’s take a look up the reading panel said, if you stop and think about it exactly. How does phonemic awareness influence reading the phoneme skills? Exactly how? Well, I think the blending part’s pretty easy. The skill of blending is needed to decode unfamiliar words. That’s a quote from the national reading panel. Think about it. Child sees the word cat for the first time and they go c, and you’re like, great, hard c, Eh, eh. You’re like, Oh good, a – short a – and then t, super. And then the kid looks at you and says, “What’s the word?” And you’re like, “What’s the word? You just sounded it out, right?”

Dr. Kilpatrick: That child has a problem with blending, they’re hearing the individual sounds, but they’re not able to blend so that it activates a word that they know. All right, that’s understandable. So phonic decoding is based upon three skills. Number one, your letter sound knowledge. Number two, your ability to blend. And then number three, slightly more advanced is your knowledge of familiar patterns or syllable types that we see. But what about segmenting? And in other words, what does segmenting have to do with reading? When you stop and think about it, it’s not obvious. I mean, you can understand what it would have to do with spelling, but what would it have to do with reading? Because when we read all the words on the page or pre-segmented for us by way of the letters. So what would segmentation has to do with reading? Why does it correlate so strongly with reading?

Dr. Kilpatrick: Well, this is what the reading panel said back in 2000, phonemic segmentation helps children remember how to read and spell words. Well that’s not obvious and that’s what I’m going to take you through. I’m going to show you what research has shown about how the segmentation skill allows us to remember the words we read. So let’s take a look. If we take what the reading panel said and portray it graphically. On the one hand you’ve got the phonic decoding, the ability to sound out unfamiliar words. And then orthographic mapping is the term we use for Aries particular theory of how we remember the words we read. Letter sound skills are important for both. We need letter sound skills for memory of words. Memory for words is not visual. It’s not visual memory. We have visual input of words, but the memory is not visual.

Dr. Kilpatrick: We’ll talk about that momentarily. And then if you have the phonological blending skill along with your letter sound skills, you can sound out unfamiliar words. But if you have phoneme analysis, the phoneme awareness that is involved in analysis, you see the blending is called synthesis. And the phoneme awareness analysis, it’s analysis because you’re breaking words apart, like phoneme segmentation, phoneme deletion, phoneme substitution, phoneme manipulation, other manipulations, phoneme isolation, et cetera. Anytime you’re pulling apart a word or a syllable, that is what I think is true phoneme awareness. The problem is we’re kind of stuck with terms from early on. So phonological blending gets lumped under phoneme awareness. But I’m not sure what blending has to do with awareness, quite frankly.

Dr. Kilpatrick: It’s more of an activation than an awareness where breaking apart a word has to do with an awareness. So regardless of the terms, if you pull a word apart, if you can do that and you have letter sound knowledge that’s needed for remembering words and for reasons that we’ll talk about. So here’s the problem with segmentation. As I said earlier, it’s not intuitive why it’s important. It may be clear for spelling. And here’s a point where have to distinguish between tasks and skills. We have a lot of different phonological tasks and they break into two categories. One is synthesis, like blending, the other’s analysis. And in the research literature, there are at least a couple dozen ways that’s done. Even something so simple as rhyming, rhyming, you’re pulling apart a word because you’re looking at the rhyme unit, sat, fat, cat, hat, you’re breaking the at part of all of it.

Dr. Kilpatrick: They have rhyme recognition versus rhyme production. So when you say rhyming, there’s like two or three or four different rhyming type tasks that had been done in the research literature and you go down the list of the major categories of a phonological awareness tasks and that there are variations on those. What are those individual tasks telling us? Well, we have to answer that question by understanding how reading works in the first place. It turns out there are only two skills. Those tasks are all tapping into the same two skills. So we don’t have to like, if you have a task that has a phoneme isolation on it and a phoneme deletion and a phoneme segmentation, you don’t have to come up with three different interpretations for those three different tasks. They’re all trying to tap into the same underlying skill.

Dr. Kilpatrick: And even though there are a lot of different tasks, there’s only two phonological awareness skills that are needed. Those are blending to help with phonics decoding. And as I showed in that previous screen, segmentation is necessary for remembering words. Again, I’ll be explaining that momentarily. We have to be able to detect the sounds in the spoken version of the word, the pronunciation, and attach that pronunciation to that letter string. Now stop and think about what I just said. I just talked about a flow of information going in the opposite direction of phonic decoding, phonic decoding starts with the letters, translate those letters and the sounds, and you blend the sounds into a word, but the process of orthographic mapping, which attaches a pronunciation goes from the pronunciation of the whole word to it’s segmented version of the pronunciation.

Dr. Kilpatrick: And then that segment in pronunciation gets attached to the letter string, opposite flow of information. Now the orthographic mapping process goes with both ways as you will see, but it’s that second way I just described that most of us are not familiar with. So here’s the interesting thing. I’m going to talk about this now and I’ll come back to it again later. And that is why our manipulation tasks superior for assessment and intervention and they are superior. The correlation between reading and segmentation tasks tends to be about 0.35 maybe 0.4 if you’re lucky, the correlation with manipulation tasks tend to be 0.5 0.6 0.7 what’s stronger? Why is that? I mean, we don’t manipulate letters when we read. We don’t manipulate letters when we spell, well, here’s the reason. When you do a phoneme manipulation task such as a deletion or substitution tasks, let’s say if you tell a child you wouldn’t do this without starting with easier items.

Dr. Kilpatrick: You’d start with say baseball, but don’t say base and work your way up to harder items. So you’d say to a child from late second grade on who’s on target for reading, we say, say sly, sly. Now I’ll say it again instead of l say sly, they will respond in one second. I know I’ve done it with hundreds of kids, typically developing kids in studies. So think about what the child did when you went, when he went or she went from a slide to sky. First of all, well the child did for classic phonological tasks. The child did segmentation, had to pull sly apart then the child did what’s called phoneme isolation, that’s trying to find, where am I hearing that sound within a word. Oh, there it is in the middle. And then deletion, pull it out, substitute it, put in the, and then blending.

Dr. Kilpatrick: So that’s four classic tasks, segmentation, isolation, manipulation and blending all in one second. Now here’s what that suggests to me. That suggests to me that if a child can respond to a manipulation task very quickly, that that child is not putting any mental conscious energy into segmenting that word, segmentation is automatic. However, with a segmentation task, you don’t know if it’s automatic. So if you say to the child, tell me, say sly without the l, and the kid goes well, well, no, I’m sorry. Let’s say if you’d ask the child to segment the word, say, tell me all the sounds in sly. And the kid goes, s, l, y. Did the sounds for sly automatically popping in that child’s head? Or did the child construct it as you went along? You don’t know, I mean, the child can go pretty quickly.

Dr. Kilpatrick: The child can pull that apart as they go along pretty quickly. So you just don’t know. A segmentation task by its nature is conscious. You’re conscious of the segmentation. So you don’t know if you’re doing it quickly, but consciously, or you don’t know if it pops into your head unconsciously. But when you do a manipulation task and it happens instantly, then you have confidence that the segmentation was automatic. You see the difference? So what we’re really trying to get at the skill is segmentation, but the skill we need for orthographic mapping, for storing the words is segmenting super fast for reasons that will become clear when we learn about orthographic learning.

Dr. Kilpatrick: I apologize. Before we go any further to understand how we remember words, I want to emphasize how we don’t remember words. There’s a very strongly intuitive approach that we all have relied on some level or another. And that would be the idea of visual memory, that somehow remembering words based on visual. I mean, that’s what it feels like. So you look at all the words on the screen there, every one of them jumped out at you instantly, right? Well, if I look at a chair and say chair, or I see the word printed word chair and say, chair, it feels like the same thing to me. But my intuition fails me quite dramatically here. Input and storage are not the same thing. Now, some of you that are old enough to remember, years and years ago, we had these things called telephone books. Remember that? Yeah.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Well, you remember when you looked up something in a telephone book? That’s visual input. The output was visual as you dial it on the phone, input visual, output visual. How did we store it? We stored it, phonologically, didn’t we? We repeated it in our head or repeated it out loud. So here you were inputting something visually, but you’re storing it phonological. And as it turns out, we know that the storage of words that we use to instantly access it from our sight vocabulary is orthographic. Meaning we have a memory for a specific letter order that is a familiar letter order jumps out at me. It doesn’t matter what it looks like as long as the letters are legible to me. Well, here’s what’s interesting. We’ve known since the 1970s and there’s a very low correlation between word reading and visual memories tasks.

Dr. Kilpatrick: How would that be a visual memory is how we read. So you’ve got some kids we have, they’re great readers that have poor visual memory. You’ve get kids with great visual memory, who are lousy readers, we’re reading correlates strongly with phonological skills. If you have pretty good skill, pretty good tasks that you’re using to assess it like manipulation tasks, you get a 0.5 to 0.8 visual memory correlates about 0.1 maybe 0.2 if you’re lucky. Do you ever notice, here’s a visual thing. Do you ever walk down the hall in your school and you see someone who you know and you blank on their name that morning and they say, “Good morning Dave.” And you go, “Good morning.” Right? We have a visual memory failure or really a phonological retrieval failure. Do you ever notice we don’t do that with words? When was the last time you looked at a word that you’ve known for years and go, oh, I know this.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Give me a minute. I’ll get it right? It’s a different process. Now, here’s what’s interesting. The average reading level of a child graduating high school who was deaf is about third grade. How do we explain that? If visual reading, visual memories, how we read, they have just as good visual memory as people who are hearing, but they do not have access to the phonemic structure of the spoken language. So they struggle dramatically. From 1960s to the 80s. They did these mixed case studies where they’d wanted to disrupt any visual memory that people might have and this was done with adults. And they found that when they first saw words like this, it slowed them down a little bit. The reaction time is slower, but if they allow them to get used to it, they could present them with brand new words. They’ve never seen a mixed case.

Dr. Kilpatrick: And the reaction time was identical to words printed the normal way. How do you explain that? Right. Well, in fact, Adams in one of her studies, she pointed out that when she debriefs students afterwards, they were like, these are words flashed very quickly on the screen by the way. Okay. And the students were like, oh no, they were all printed in normal case. Right. It’s kind of interesting. Well, the reason for this is we have an abstract representation of every letter that we read. And that’s true for everything else in our perceptual and memory environment. When you walk into a room you’ve never been in before, you’re not sitting there puzzled going, “Whoa, what is this? Are we in the forest?” No. You know it’s a room. Even though it looks different than another room you’ve been in, you see a chair you’ve never seen before, you instantly categorize it as a chair.

Dr. Kilpatrick: When we walk down the street in a city, we’re looking, we don’t have to recategorize and refigure out what a fire hydrant is, or storefront, that these objects walking by us are people and are carrying shopping bags. All those are things. Even if we’ve never seen that particular instance before, we’re able to instantly categorize it. We would not be able to function without that constant, ongoing, instantaneous categorization that we experienced throughout the day. Well, the same is true with letters. As long as you’re familiar with letters and you know with A, you’ve got this upper case A with kind of look triangular with a little line across the middle and then you got the cursive A, you’ve got so many different versions of the A. As long as you learn that those are A, immediately upon seeing them. That gets translated into our abstract representation. That’s the letter A.

Dr. Kilpatrick: So what we’re doing is we’re storing sequences of letters. That’s what we’re remembering. And so the first grader learns the word bear, common character in children’s stories, right? Well, the child learns bear. And then when the child for the very first time sees the word bear, take a notice that the uppercase and lowercase version of each one of these letters is visually different. So this word bear is a brand new, visually distinct and unique representation that child’s never seen before, but yet they instantly recognize it. Why? Because of a visual memory? No, it never seen it before. Not in terms of visual, but they have seen it in terms of letter order. Oh, that’s a familiar letter sequence because I’ve learned my uppercase and my lowercase. So it really doesn’t matter what the font is, what the handwriting is, as long as the letters at the letter level, as long as the child’s familiar.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Because sometimes you see some very unusual fonts and that may confuse people. Right. Okay. So let me mention a couple of things before I move on about phoneme construction. And this we’ve got some bad news and some good news, phonics instruction, when you look at all the different types of instruction over the years last 200 years of formal teaching of reading, you have phonics instruction, you have the instruction in whole word approach, whole language. Those are quite different. The whole word, the focus is on the word, whole language of the focus on sentences and paragraphs. Phonics always comes out with stronger results in word reading right across the board and in the first couple of years a comprehension as well. But with that said, we realize there are many children who even when you teach them with a phonic approach, they never catch up.

Dr. Kilpatrick: They kind of hit a plateau and they become really good at sounding out words. And what and what we’ve learned from numerous studies is for children with poor reading, dyslexia or word reading that with good phonic instruction, they will gain 10, 15 or 20 standard score points in nonsense word reading, but their real word reading, their word identification. This is a norm tests comparing to other kids across the country. Their word identification may only go up three points, maybe five at the most. The highest I’ve ever seen is 5.85 in a study, but very large gains in their phonics. They’re nonsense word reading. What’s going on, what’s going on with that? Now that sounds like pretty discouraging, but it shouldn’t be. That’s no more discouraging than saying, “Hey, I’ve been using this hammer today, but for some reason I couldn’t use it as a screwdriver and getting discouraged with the hammer.”

Dr. Kilpatrick: No, not at all. The hammer did its job. You need a screwdriver to do what a screwdriver does. And at the same way, phonics by its very nature is not designed to allow kids to remember words. It’s designed to allow kids to identify a word that they don’t know using phonics, decoding. So when you get that kind of result, well that’s great. We should say, look at the phonics part did its job, but the problem is up until recently, until we’ve learned more and more about orthographic learning, we haven’t known how to go that next step. And then you also have some kids that can’t seem to learn phonics. You do everything you can and they just don’t seem to be able to pick up on phonics. What about those kids? Wow, you’ve got some good news for them. Another issue with phonics is there’s no built in mechanism regarding fluency and building sight vocabulary.

Dr. Kilpatrick: And there’re even some phonics authorities. I have a book by Jean Shaw. I have a book by Isabel Beck. They have other outstanding books, slim volumes on phonics, but both of them more or less say, hey, if you sound out a word enough times, you’ll remember it visually. So they were not really up on the orthographic learning literature and they seem to default to the visual memory hypothesis that I just described. So let’s take a look at this issue before we move on. Because the phonic skills are foundational. They’re foundational for fluency. They’re foundational for building that sight vocabulary. And think of this as the tail end of a distribution. So in a sense, if you think of a bell curve, it’s going to kind of swoop upward off the screen there, right? You have kids with the mild, moderate and severe phonological core deficit.

Dr. Kilpatrick: What’s the phonological core deficit? That’s the basis of dyslexia by the way, the phonological core deficit, it means the child has a difficulty in one or more of the following poor phonemic awareness analysis poor phonological blending, poor rapid automatized naming, poor phonological working memory, poor nonsense word reading or letter sounds skills. And usually it’s more than one of those, some combination of those. Now, none of these children do well in a non-phonic program, so if your Tier I is not doing some kind of systematic training of phonics in first and second grade, these kids are gonna struggle in reading for the most part. However, now I’m guessing, okay, I’m inferring across the research, but I’m guessing that in those studies that I’ll talk about, I’ll touch upon briefly at the end where you had a … When you do explicit systematic teaching of the letters and sounds and kindergarten first and you do, you teach phonological awareness in kindergarten first, which most people aren’t doing.

Dr. Kilpatrick: If you do that, you reduce the number of struggling readers by about 50% and I’m inferring from that, that that 50% that that did better from that Tier I instruction were kids in this mild category for the most part. Okay. That’s my best guess. Also, you have children that are not taught with any phonics instruction. They’re poor readers by third grade, the parents lay out a whole bunch of money. Have them tutored in a phonic program and now these kids take off. I think that’s the mild kids. Okay. Then you have the moderate kids. Those are the kids I talked about earlier, who they kind of hit a plateau and they don’t catch up. Then you have the severe cases. Now let me tell you about the severe cases. Well, what I want to tell you about the moderate, by the way, the kids in the moderate, I’m jumping ahead, but the kids in the moderate do not have phoning proficiency.

Dr. Kilpatrick: They can do the blending. They have a letter sound skills, but they don’t have the phoning proficiency. Remember that kid that went from sly to sky instantly? These kids in the moderate category can’t do that. Okay? They don’t have the phoning level skills to be good at remembering the words they read. Then you get to the severe category. These are children who, well, let me tell you the first case I came across. This is the 1997-98 school year, a boy, we’ll just call him Dennis. And he was in sixth grade, he did better on the IQ test than two thirds of sixth graders, he was reading at a first grade level and we had tried multiple phonics programs with him. He just couldn’t seem to learn phonics. So I did a task with him similar to the phonological awareness screening test, an earlier version of it. I’d start out very easy, say baseball, baseball, now say baseball, but don’t say base. “What do you mean?” That’s what he said. ‘What do you mean?”

Dr. Kilpatrick: Now try that with kindergartners. Half of kindergartners will respond instantly with no further instruction. Right. I said, “Well, listen Dennis, if you say baseball, but don’t say base, you get ball.” “Oh, okay. All right.” “Say sailboat.” “Sailboat.” “Now say sailboat, but don’t say sail.” His face crinkled, his head tip side to his lips are moving, he was using his head to segment. And so he got it and I put a one next to his name or next to the item, sorry. And then he went to enter say enter but don’t say en so before you had compound words, which makes it very easy, he was struggling with that. And then just two syllable words, he struggled with that. He could get it. But then when I got to say cat without the c, he could not do it, couldn’t do it.

Dr. Kilpatrick: So this is the problem with these kids with a severe phonological core deficit. They do not have the phonological skills necessary to benefit from phonics instruction. Think about it, we’re teaching a kid and tell him, you got to have word with blends on either end, here’s the word stand sounded out at stand and this kid is struggling with baseball. They’re not ready. And the exciting news is you’d work on the syllable level, phonological skills with them, onset rhyme level, phonological skills with them and start getting into the phoneme level phonological skills. And now the phonics takes hold. Okay. So the phonology of the language and just like I said earlier, our language is phoneme based. We have a phony based language. And if you don’t have good access to the phonemes, you are going to have difficulty with learning to read.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Okay. So how is sight vocabulary developed? How does that work? There are two major theories of studying real people. We have some computer based computational modeling that is not as useful for us in this case because those computational modeling, it takes hundreds of exposures to learn. I know this sounds odd, I do think the computer pickup on a clicker, but anyway, it takes a hundreds of exposures in order to develop that where we know that it only takes one to four exposures from some studies with real kids. So David Share, his self-teaching hypothesis, he brings up the fact that if you know educated folks like ourselves listening to this, we know anywhere, depending on how old we are, how much reading we do, 30 to 70,000 words in our data bank of familiar words are sight vocabulary or orthographic lexicon. How many of those that our teacher teach us and our parents, maybe a few 100, maybe 1000. Right? How did we learn the rest?

Dr. Kilpatrick: We taught ourselves. How does that happen? And that’s what his research surrounding his theory is looking at how we actually learn words. What’s the context? What’s the situation under which we learn words? Well for one thing, orthographic learning, meaning learning specific words occurs one at a time, one word at a time. We have to encounter a word in order for that word to become familiar. You can’t look at something you’ve never seen before and say it’s familiar because you’ve never seen it before. As I mentioned earlier, from second grade on, new words are added to the sight vocabulary after only one to four exposures. And this next point is very important to understand how we need to move forward. Orthographic learning is implicit. It typically does not involve much conscious thought, now stop and think. Let’s say if you know 50,000 words are in your sight vocabulary, let’s say only 30,000. Okay. How many of those do you recall putting any mental effort into remembering it for the next time when you first saw it?

Dr. Kilpatrick: We don’t, we don’t, do we? I mean maybe in rare cases where you come across the word that look like another word and you had to slow down and distinguish it. But for the most part, we don’t, we encounter a new word. We sound it out, we move on and it gets added to our sight vocabulary after one to four exposures. And by the way, to one to four exposures, even starting in late second grade. Now most of the studies have been done with single syllable words, I’ll admit that, but it’s weighted toward the one. In other words, the first gives us the most traction followed by the second and then it trails off and we find no difference between four, six or eight exposures. Anyway. So how does that happen? I mean we are not thinking about it. It’s not like we come across in a word and go, wait a minute, “Time for word study, get out the flash cards.” It doesn’t work like that.

Dr. Kilpatrick: So we are adding words for our sight vocabulary implicitly behind the scenes unconsciously. And I want you to think about this for a minute. I don’t know a way around this logic. If the process of storing words is automatic, unconscious and behind the scenes, that means any skills that are required to pull that off have to be automatic, unconscious and behind the scenes. And what are the skills that we need as we’ll see momentarily, our letter sound skills and phonemes skills and they need to be automatic. Just being able to respond accurately is not enough. So another thing that Share’s theory shows us the studies that have been done that we sound out a new word and that process of sounding out helps us remember that letter order, now he doesn’t get too explicit as to how or why.

Dr. Kilpatrick: But we do know that if you disrupt the ability to sound out in the word, if a child gets to just see it visually, but doesn’t get to sound it out, usually by the child having to repeat and nonsense set of syllables like yabba dabba do yabba dabba do as they read. They don’t remember the word. If they don’t get to sound it out phonologically, phonically, they don’t remember it in the future. If they do get to sound it out phonically they do remember it in the future. So what David Share’s theory contributes to us is this scenario under which word learning occurs. It occurs in real world reading. We’re reading real stuff, we come across it, we sound it out, we move on very quickly. There’s a very, very limited window, like we’re talking a second or even less to try to do anything about remembering that word.

Dr. Kilpatrick: And we’re not even doing it consciously, but he never actually says how it is. That sounding out those words allows us to remember that order. That’s where Ehri’s theory comes in. So Ehri’s theory doesn’t give us all that nice back on information I just described, doesn’t give us a situation that word learning occurs. But she talks more about the cognitive process of storing the word and sight words are really familiar spellings, doesn’t matter what the look is. Look at all these different variations on the word bear and none of them matter. It’s still going to activate bear in the same way as long as the font is familiar. So what Ehri says is that we’re learning by taking what we already know, which is the pronunciation of the word and attaching that to the letter string. Notice it’s the opposite direction of phonic decoding.

Dr. Kilpatrick: It’s going from brain to text, not text to brain. And so we anchor those in long-term memory by connecting the individual phonemes within that pronunciation to that letter string. So we’re going from what we know, which is the pronunciation, and if we can pull that pronunciation apart, especially if we can pull it apart instantaneously and we can attach it to those letters strings, and they become familiar after one to four exposures. So phoneme segmentation, letter sounds, skills are central to this process. You have to have both. But the phoneme segmentation that we get on phoneme segmentation tasks are not not helpful in that regard because we don’t know if it’s automatic. All right? So this is just kind of a schematic illustration. You probably all know that if you see a slash mark on either side of a letter, it doesn’t refer to the letter or first to the sound.

Dr. Kilpatrick: So if you have a slash on either side of the d, it’s d not the letter D. Well I’ve stolen that and used it for a word, so this is the pronunciation of the word red. And if you have available to you the sounds within red because you have good phoning awareness, you’re very proficient at that. When you first encounter red, you now have a connecting point. You have a way of attaching what you already know to what you’re trying to learn. You get a word like has, I would have expected a Z, but okay, that’s how we spell has. Cool and you can attach that. All right. Now let me show you how Shares theory and Ehris theory work together. I’m going to take a kid who’s got a end of second grade level of phonemic skills and I’m going to have him learn a first grade word.

Dr. Kilpatrick: Just, it’s a little anachronistic here, I apologize, but just to illustrate my point. So the child sees the word win. And if the child has letter sound knowledge, she can go /w/ /i/ /n/. but without blending, it’s just /w/ /i/ /n/. So blending is needed to go, oh, win I know now, once what’s the word win, you’re ready to move on, you’re focusing on comprehension. You’re not stopping and saying, hey, it’s time for word study. So what’s happening automatically behind the scenes, if you have proficiency in the letter sound skills, you’re going in the opposite direction. Look at that.

Dr. Kilpatrick: So when it’s pulled apart and you’re attaching it to that letter string, you’ve moved on and you’ve now made, you’ve now participated in a connection forming process that is largely implicit but requires certain key skills. The letter sound proficiency and phoneme proficiency. And then you’ve got words that, you’ve got a little bit of a problem here. We call this phonically regular, but you’ve got three sounds and four letters. Well, knowing the silent e rule, I think would help here, right? Maybe knowing about vowel diagraphs can be helpful here. And then here’s what’s interesting from a mapping standpoint, comb and make are kind of the same. They both have a silent letter at the end, but knowing the silent e rule make a little bit easier, I believe, to learn. So orthographic mapping requires two skills. Letter sound proficiency and phoning proficiency, letter sound proficiency means that you have a child at the end of first grade that is on target for reading. You give them a single syllable nonsense word like M-I-P. And you know what they say mip, just as fast as if it was the word sit.

Dr. Kilpatrick: You’re like, wow, that’s quick. Now think about what that child had to do. The child had to retrieve the sound for the M, retrieve facade for the I, retrieve the sound for the P and blend them all together on one second. So my contention is that child has automatic access to those letters sounds, that child did not put conscious attention into figuring out the sound that goes with the M or the I or the P and didn’t put conscious attention to blending. It was all very proficient. That’s letter sound proficiency. You have another first grader who sees MIP at the end of first grade and they go, m, I, p mip. They are already about four or five months behind, but look what they have. They have letter sound knowledge and they have blending. So letter sound knowledge is not enough. Blending is not enough. Letter sound proficiency and blending proficiency are essential.

Dr. Kilpatrick: And then phoning proficiency illustrated earlier. A kid goes from sly to sky instantly. That means that they have instant access to the phonemes in the spoken language without even thinking about it. And you put those two together, the child sounding out a word like David Share says in a real situation, they get it. They’re looking at it, they have it available to them. Now I know it’s the word win instantaneously behind the scenes, they’re able to connect the pronunciation of win to that letter string by way of the instant access to the phonemes. But guess what? The kind of kids that we’re here to talk about, those struggling readers do not have that at all. So they have to establish a relationship between letters and sounds unconsciously while they’re reading. And you need both of those skills to do that.

Dr. Kilpatrick: You’re like, okay, Dave. What about irregular words? Well, there’s some good news about that. First of all, there aren’t that many words early on the kids are exposed to that have multiple violations. Most of the irregularities are just a single letter sound combination like in the word said two letters are off, but it’s really not. It’s just one letter sound combination is off. You get a horrible words like of or one. Those are pretty bad but they’re pretty rare among the early words. But more importantly is this, look at Ehri says, exception words are only exceptional when someone tries to read them by applying a phonic decoding strategy. When they’re learned as sight words, they are secured and memory by the same connections as regularly spelled words. So you have to make adjustments to irregular words, but we make adjustments to regular words all the time.

Dr. Kilpatrick: The same thing. So the difference between phonic decoding and irregular words and mapping is that with phonics decoding, you don’t know the answer to the question. You’re presented with inadequate information and you’re trying to sound it out. You don’t have the right information. But with mapping you already know you can start that connection forming process between what which is the words pronunciation and that spelling pattern. I mean, take a look. You got a lot of adjustments that have to be made even to regular words. You got silent e words, you’ve got vowel diagraphs like we saw earlier. You’ve got constant diagraphs, et cetera. And when you get to the multi syllabic words, many words that we would consider regular, they still have a vowel reduction in the non-stress syllable. Okay, I know I’m going 100 miles an hour and I still have to do that to get through all this, but look at the development that occurs.

Dr. Kilpatrick: You have word reading development, you’ve got letter names, letter sounds, skills, phonics decoding, and this is what we focus on. But what we now need to do is to peel back the curtain and see what’s going on behind the scenes, what’s going on behind the scenes are phonological skills. We now know that the early phonological skills that we task the task that we use and may be rhyming or the first sound awareness or syllable segmentation, kids that are better at that before they’re exposed to letter names and letter sounds pick up on those more quickly. And when children are trained in early phonological skills, they pick up on letter names and letter sounds more quickly than if they’re trained on say vocabulary. So we know there’s a causal relationship between letter names, letter sound learning, and your phonological skills. I mean, think about it.

Dr. Kilpatrick: What are latter sounds? t, z, f, those are abstractions and that we don’t see in regular language, they’re co-articulated with other phoning to make words the most common or the most basic syllables. Excuse me. See I’m rushing, the most basic unit of spoken speeches, the syllable and for our language and all of their alphabetic writing systems, we have to go below the syllable to the phoneme. So if you have a letter name, letter, sound knowledge, you can do phonic decoding. But guess what happens? You spend all of kindergarten and first grade with l, m, z and all these other phonemes. You develop phonemic awareness, at least basic segmentation and blending. That’s an ending first grade skill. Most first graders can segment or blend just about any word. So then you can become good at phonics decoding and encoding. But now you spend first and second grade with letters and sounds and sounds and sounds and letters and letters and letters.

Dr. Kilpatrick: And you keep doing that over and over again, you develop the advanced phonemic skills that we tap into with these manipulation tasks. The advance when you make skills means you can segment more quickly and more efficiently and more unconsciously than you could at the end of first grade. So we have a development of our phonemic skills after first grade, that levels out somewhere between third, fourth, and fifth, depending on which study you look at. But at least goes til about third grade, late second or into third grade. And we don’t pay attention to that phonemic awareness development. If it’s not important, but that’s the phonemic awareness development that is critical for storing words and the basic phoneme awareness you see in the second level, this is what happens for children that we do all the good phonic work with them.

Dr. Kilpatrick: They get stuck here, but because of the phonological deficit, they don’t develop those more advanced phonemic skills. And as a result, they are not good at remembering the words they read. So let’s bring some of this together here. And I kinda hinted this earlier, the reading fluency is not about the speed of getting something out of your head. If it fits in your head, it pops out instantaneously. If you have a large sight vocabulary, you move through text very easily. Words jump out at you, you’re very quick and accurate. And with a limited sight vocabulary, you struggle through text. I mentioned that earlier. So the best way to get kids to have reading fluency is to build the size of their sight vocabulary. How do you build the size of the sight vocabulary? Well, you have to get them to become good at orthographic mapping.

Dr. Kilpatrick: And once they’re good at orthographic mapping, they have to be exposed to a lot of prints so they encounter more and more words that they haven’t seen before so they can keep adding to their sight vocabulary and expanding it. When you have kids that are not good at remembering words and you do lots of reading practice with them, it’s not nearly as efficient. We have not one study I’ve ever seen that just having kids do reading practice turns a poor reader into a good reader. Okay. Because they’re not good at remembering the words they read. So we need to help them develop the skill of remembering words and getting them doing a lot of reading. And that’s how you build the sight vocabulary size. And that’s how you build fluency. Now some of you are going, “Hey wait, I thought rapid [inaudible 00:48:04] naming has to do with fluency.”

Dr. Kilpatrick: It does. Okay. The problem is it has to do with sight vocabulary size too. They overlap so much. It’s not a simple additive process. Okay? So poor fluency’s not about, “Hey, the words are all there, but I just have to get them out faster.” We have no model of reading that whatever suggests that. So here are some assessment implications. First of all, our Tier I assessments, we need to attend a letter sound proficiency and our time nonsense word reading on our universal batteries are our go to for that. I think what happens sometimes is a child doesn’t do so well at that and they’re in first grade, but they’re doing well on some other things. We go, “Oh no, he’s fine.” Well guess what? That might be a ticking time bomb. The reason he’s doing fine and everything else is because the parents did everything right at home.

Dr. Kilpatrick: So we really need to pay close attention to the timed nonsense word reading because it’s that latter sound proficiency that we need to look at. And timed nonsense word reading is the best way to get at that. And then phonemic proficiency. There’s not much out there. The phonological word screening test, that’s just my version of McGinnes version of Rosnan Simon 1971. I don’t get credit for it. I was 11 years old when that came out. But I did add a tiny element to it and it’s free. And that will let you know if the child has instant access to the phonemes or not. And I just know because I had the fortunate opportunity to work with some companies on this. I volunteer my time. I don’t ever want to be, have to do a disclaimer that I’m getting any money off of any test or assessment.

Dr. Kilpatrick: I don’t, but I’m glad to work with companies and some companies are now adding this element to some of their tests that are on the way that will be coming down the pike. And I’m very excited about that. When it comes to Tier 2 assessments or Tier 3 letter sound proficiency, test to word reading efficiencies, the best there is at least for the elementary level. KTEA now has done decoding fluency as well. They just added that in there as I know there are others on the way too, and then for phoneme proficiency, we’re still in the same situation with that. You’ve got the PASS test, et cetera. And then looking at the size of the sight vocabulary, you’ve got the test of word reading efficiencies, sight word efficiency that in the elementary level, that’s a great test to kind of estimate does this kid have a large sight vocabulary or not?

Dr. Kilpatrick: And the KTEA has now a timed word recognition alongside their untimed word recognition and others are on the way. Okay. That’s good news looking ahead. Now I know I’m running short on time, but I just want to summarize this. Here’s what’s interesting. When they looked at, the reading panel, reviewed the research on prevention, when they did phonemic or phonological awareness training in kindergarten, they had an eight standard score point gain between the groups that got that type of training and the groups that didn’t. But it chopped down to about half after about a year or so. However, with the at risk kids, there was a 13 standard score point difference between the at risk kids who got the phonological awareness in their Tier I versus those that didn’t. And now look at this, when they check back between six months and two years later, it now expanded to 20 points.

Dr. Kilpatrick: So a lot of those kids ended up living happily ever after with reading. But the kids that didn’t get it continue to struggle. Now let’s look at the prevention studies or excuse me, nope, here we go. Sorry. What did they do in those study? Okay, the key components. This is, I’m glad you’re sitting down because this is going to be a shocker after everything I’ve said. But phonological awareness and letter sound knowledge. That’s what we need to do with the kids. And that has been shown in study, after study, after study to be the most effective. But then you have to show how they connect. In other words, you want to … Phonological awareness is oral, but you have to show how it connects with letters and sounds. Doing phonological activities with letters is phonics but you have to be able at some point do it where it’s automatic.

Dr. Kilpatrick: It’s strictly oral based on everything I said before. It has to be instantaneous and oral. And then when it comes to reading research, a review that I did back in 2015 show that when you look at standard score point gains, you get about zero to five standard score point gains. If you do no phonics instruction and if you do explicit systematic phonics instruction and no additional phonemic awareness. So if you do no phonemic awareness, you’re going to get zero to five standard score points. This is on wards identification, a nonsense word reading, you get better results. Then they had a moderate group, which is interestingly, every one of them did explicit systematic phonics. Now I want to know that no study that, that did not use phonics, too many double negatives there. If you chose not to use phonics for word-level reading intervention, it never made it out of the zero five period.

Dr. Kilpatrick: But phonics instruction was enhanced when they also did training in phonological segmentation and blending, oral training and phonological blending and segmentation. But because that only takes them up to in any first grade level, they got still somewhat modest gains, six to nine, you’re going to start noticing a difference. You get down around two or three in that first group, you’re not even gonna notice a difference. But here’s where I’m getting at the most highly successful studies within the research literature. They’ve got the largest standard score point gains. They all aggressively went after and fixed the phonological awareness issues and they used phoneme manipulation. So the phoneme manipulation training, and I’ll tell you this, only a few of the studies talked about how automaticity with that. But just on my 20 years’ experience doing this and McGuinness is 20 years before me, you spend, you do that kind of stuff with kids and even the most severe phonological core kids, they become automatic with those activities.

Dr. Kilpatrick: It may take a few days, it may take a couple of weeks, but they do become automatic. So I’m inferring that that happened in those studies and they all did a phonics training and reading practice. All right, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time. But I’m happy to take on any questions here.

Speaker 1: Great. Thank you so much Dr. Kilpatrick. You definitely crammed in a lot of great information in the short amount of time that we’ve had together and you presented it very well. So thank you very much for that. And just as a reminder to everyone, because we did have to go so quickly we will be sending a recording tomorrow with the slide deck as well. So you’ll have access to all of this information in case you just weren’t able to process it all or take notes quickly enough. So before we get to questions and we don’t have too much time for those, but we’ll see what we can get in. I did want to thank our sponsor, CORE, CORE’s reading, writing and math professional learning services equip administrators and teachers with the knowledge and instructional skills they need to implement effective research based classroom practices that result in sustainable academic excellence.

Speaker 1: I can’t go into that too much more because of our time limitations, but you can learn more about course professional learning services specifically for math, reading, writing and special education on their website, which is corelearn.com. They also have a lot of resources like this webinar on the website. So do take a moment to check it out and see what CORE has to offer you and your fellow educators, also as a thank you for joining us today, CORE is offering a 20% discount on the purchase of two must have books to support effective reading instruction. And those are assessing reading multiple measures and the teaching reading source book, this offer is running out quickly. It’s only available to December 15. But all you have to do is go to corelearn.com and go to the CORE store. And there very near the top of store you’ll find the CORE source book package.

Speaker 1: When you go to checkout, if you inner code Webinar 10, 18, your discount will be applied and it’s 27% off what have been the full price of both books together. So also go to corelearn.com to take a look at that. So we don’t have too much time for questions, but I’ll get at least one or two over to you, Dr. Kilpatrick and before we sign off. Do any of the strategies for teaching students to be fluent readers change with student age? For example, if you have a fourth grader who can’t read due to lack of instruction, do you recommend the same strategies as with a five year old who is learning to read?

Dr. Kilpatrick: Well we have to understand the nature of reading word reading development. It’s kind of like kids learn to sit before they can stand, stand before they can walk, walk before they can run. And what happens is we don’t pay attention to that development because we’re not aware of it. And so to use a basketball analogy, it’s like a young child who’s first learning to play basketball can’t even make a lap. We take them off to the three point line because that’s what we see grownups doing, the high schoolers and the college player do. And so what’s happening is we go right for the juggler of kind of a fluency when the issue is they can’t even make a layup yet. So the idea is there’s a building process. You need to develop a letter, sound skills.

Dr. Kilpatrick: You need to develop the phoneme proficiency to build the ability to remember the words you read. Nobody is going to be fluent if they’re not good at remembering the words you read. No one is going to be fluent if when they encounter a passage, there are a lot of words in that passage that they’re not familiar with. So we have to kind of look at the nature of development. So many of our fluency approaches just assume that if I practice I’ll go faster, faster, faster. That is true for some motor skills. Orthographic learning is not motor learning and yet we were kind of using a motor learning model for fluency much at the time.

Speaker 1: Great. And we’ll take just one more since we’re at the top of the hour. But besides Equipped for Reading Success and SIPPS, do you know of any other programs that build in phoneme manipulation tasks?

Dr. Kilpatrick: Yeah, I think the phony manipulation tasks are not a new thing. They’ve been out there for a long time and so I think there are a lot of programs and I think more and more programs are moving in that direction. In terms of specific ones, mostly the programs I’m familiar with are the ones that somehow are touched upon in the research literature. So people all the time who approach me about, “Do you know about this program and that program?” I’m like, “No, I don’t.” So it’s hard for me to recommend that, but you’ve got these lips program it has been found in numerous studies to be very effective. That’s unfortunately the Lindamood folks are promoting another program that doesn’t work very well at all by comparison and but if you can get them to train you on the LiPS program, that’s a good program, phonographics, the Heggerty training. So there’s like a bunch of them out there.

Speaker 1: Okay. Well, I do wish we had more time for questions because we had a lot of great ones come in. So thank you everyone for asking them. And thank you Dr. Kilpatrick for joining us and sharing all of your knowledge and expertise with us today. And as a final reminder, we will be sending out that link with the recording to the link to the recording and the slide deck tomorrow. So just keep an eye on your inbox for those materials. And I hope everyone has a great afternoon or evening depending on where you are located today. Thanks again, Dr. Kilpatrick for joining us.