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Changing how literacy is taught: evidence on synthetic phonics

Machin, Stephen, McNally, Sandra and Viarengo, Martina (2018) Changing how literacy is taught: evidence on synthetic phonics. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 10 (2). pp. 217-241. ISSN 1945-7731

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Identification Number: 10.1257/pol.20160514


A significant number of people have very low levels of literacy in many OECD countries. This paper studies a national change in policy and practice in England that refocused the teaching of reading around "synthetic phonics." This was a low-cost intervention that targeted the pedagogy of existing teachers. We evaluate the pilot and first phase of the national rollout. While strong initial effects tend to fade out on average, they persist for those with children with a higher initial propensity to struggle with reading. As a result, this program helped narrow the gap between disadvantaged pupils and other groups.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 American Economic Association
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I2 - Education > I21 - Analysis of Education
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I2 - Education > I28 - Government Policy
Sets: Departments > Economics
Collections > Economists Online
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2018 12:38
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:39

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