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Phonics and Phonemes: Learning to Decode and Spell in a Literature-Based Program

Robert Calfee

Stanford University

This chapter is written in a context of turmoil within California and elsewhere, as concerned parents and legislators demand a shift from literature-based early literacy programs to “old-fashioned” phonics and spelling. Low test scores (real or purported) are one cause for California’s concerns, but similar efforts are welling up in other states. The conflict reflects deep underlying issues, some political, others personal, about the goals of education.

This conflict is probably as divisive in early literacy as anywhere in the ...

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