This Cochrane review assessed the effects of phonics training on the literacy-skills of English-speaking children and adolescents whose reading was below that expected for their age.
The review included 14 studies with 923 participants comparing phonics training to no training or non-literacy training. Participants were English-speaking children or adolescents, of low and middle socioeconomic status, whose reading was one year, one grade, or one standard deviation below the level expected for their age or grade for no known reason. Phonics training varied between studies in intensity (up to four hours per week), duration (up to seven months), training group size (individual and small groups), and delivery (human and computer).
The review found that Phonics training in English-speaking poor readers may improve reading fluency of irregular words, mixed/regular words, and non-words compared to no intervention. In addition, phonics training may improve the accuracy of mixed/regular, and non-word reading, reading comprehension, spelling, letter-sound knowledge, and phonological output.
Authors rated the evidence as being of moderate to low quality primarily due to large differences in the size of phonics‐training effects between studies. More studies are needed to improve the precision of outcomes, including word and non-word reading accuracy, reading comprehension, spelling, letter-sound knowledge, and phonological output. More data are also needed to determine if phonics training in English-speaking poor readers is moderated by factors such as training type, intensity, duration, group size, or administrator.
Read the full review here.