Don’t Buy It: The Marketing Scam of MSM and the “Science of Reading”

Since 2018, Education Week has published a steady stream of click-bait press-release journalism promoting the “science of reading” (SoR).

So the latest scare-article is not surprising: More Than 1 in 3 Children Who Started School in the Pandemic Need ‘Intensive’ Reading Help. Now let’s look at the details:

That’s according to a new study by the testing group Amplify, based on data from more than 400,000 students in kindergarten through 5th grades who participated in the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, which Amplify administers. The research, released late Wednesday, shows that though students have begun to recover lost academic ground in the last year, big holes remain in students’ fundamental reading skills.

Researchers compared students’ reading achievement from 2019 through 2022 on DIBELS, one of the most commonly used diagnostic assessments for reading.

More Than 1 in 3 Children Who Started School in the Pandemic Need ‘Intensive’ Reading Help

That’s right Amplify and DIBELS have found that students urgently need … their products.

Imagine a publication called Medical Week in decades long ago when the tobacco industry did “research” and found no link between smoking and cancer. Imagine MedWeek publishing pro-smoking articles grounded in the tobacco industry’s “research.”

Well, you don’t have to imagine with EdWeek.

EdWeek and mainstream media have been complicit for almost four years now in the SoR marketing scam that uses “science” like a baseball bat to disorient the public and political leaders so non-scientific products and policies are slipped into the education system.

SoR cites NCTQ, an organization that releases “reports” that are not peer-reviewed (and third-party reviews discredit all of them). [1]

SoR legislation overwhelmingly includes grade retention, a practice refuted by decades of research for being harmful to students.

And SoR is in bed with phonic-intensive programs that are not supported by science; for example, phonics-heavy training for teachers, LETRS:

A growing number of U.S. states have funded and encourage and/or require teachers to attend professional development using Moats’s commercial LETRS program, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Texas. This is despite the fact that an Institute of Education Sciences study of the LETRS intervention found almost no effects on teachers or student achievement (Garet et al., 2008). (p. S259)

Hoffman, J.V., Hikida, M., & Sailors, M. (2020). Contesting science that silences: Amplifying equity, agency, and design research in literacy teacher preparation. Reading Research Quarterly, 55(S1), S255-S266. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.353

DIBELS is a widely refuted screening tool that narrowly defines reading around decoding (including an emphasis on nonsense words, which are completely absent comprehension measures).

The public and political leaders must resist the marketing scam being promoted by mainstream media around reading. But there is a common thread.

EdWeek? Nonsense.

DIBELS? Nonsense.

SoR? Nonsense.

LETRS? Nonsense.

Don’t buy it.


[1] See How to Navigate Social Media Debates about the “Science of Reading” [UPDATED] for all the ways SoR is connected to policies and practices not supported by science/evidence.

One thought on “Don’t Buy It: The Marketing Scam of MSM and the “Science of Reading””

Comments are closed.