Science of Reading (SOR)

The Science of Reading refers to a vast body of research on learning to read with contributions from various disciplines, including cognitive science, linguistics, psychology, education, psychology, neurology, and more. The Science of Reading has evolved from varied research areas, participants, and statistical analyses. We have insight into how humans learn to read now, the skills required, and which parts of the brain are involved in literacy development from a wide range of empirically supported research. Using this research, we can identify an evidence-based best practice approach to teaching foundational literacy skills called Structured Literacy. 


It's an exciting time to be in education, and parents as our partners! We now know a great deal about how the brain develops as we learn to read and what instructional practices are most effective for all children. We are committed to stopping doing what doesn't work and being guided by scientific research to ensure that we deliver on the promise of literacy for every student. 


How do schools teach reading? 

An easy explainer for parents: Professor Pamela Snow discusses reading in our school system and the different types of instruction our children can receive.


Shared with permission from Learning Matters. View more Chit Chats via


Bill Hansberry: How does your child's school teach reading some questions well worth asking! 

Red flag 🚩 responses when you ask a school how they teach reading:

1)"We believe..." 

2)"We promote a love of reading"

3)"Different teachers teach reading and spelling differently"

4)"Not all learners learn to read and spell the same way"

5)"Students are at different points so we don't teach them the same content / same way..."

6)"We use an inquiry approach to teaching literacy"


Professor Pam Snow: Dear Parents: Welcome to the Confusing World of Reading Instruction 

This article discusses the "instruction lottery" with reading.


Nancy Young's globally recognised Ladder of Reading illustrates the ratio of students who require an explicit, sequential, systematic, synthetic phonics approach. The infographic compares the small percentage of children who learn to read effortlessly. Her Ladder of Reading (see links) succinctly shows us how Structured Literacy, as we use at Clayton South Primary School, is advantageous for ALL students, not just struggling learners.


Favourite SOR Quotes: 

“The body of work referred to as the “science of reading” is not an ideology, a philosophy, a political agenda, a one-size-fits-all approach, a program of instruction, not a specific component of instruction. It is the emerging consensus from many related disciplines, based on literally thousands of studies, supported by hundreds of millions research dollars, conducted across the world in many languages.” ~Dr. Louisa Moats


“There is no comprehension strategy powerful enough to compensate for the fact that you can’t read the words.” ~Dr. Anita Archer


“If a child memorizes ten words, the child can read only ten words, but if a child learns the sounds of ten letters, the child will be able to read 350 three sound words, 4320 four sound words and 21,650 five sound words.” ~Dr. Martin Kozloff 


“The most common source of reading difficulties is poor phonemic awareness.” ~Dr. David Kilpatrick


“It takes four times as many resources to resolve a literacy problem by Year 4 than it does in Year 1.” ~Dr Kerry Hempenstall


SOR Explanation: 

SOR 3 minutes explanation! by Dr Stephanie Stollar


Orthographic Mapping Explainer:

Orthographic mapping explainer! by Lyn Stone


How we learn to read and the Simple View of Reading: 

The Simple View of Reading (Gough and Tunmer, 1986) is an evidence-based representation of how reading comprehension comprises two sets of equally essential skills: decoding and linguistic comprehension. Many educators are familiar with the Reading Rope, a visual representation of the many strands woven into skilled reading. See Scarborough's Rope.


Emily Hanford's AMP Reports:

Emily Hanford: At A Loss For Words What's - Wrong With How Schools Teach Reading (Podcast Version)


Dyslexia Victoria Support: can provide information & support to parents on literacy and numeracy instruction for struggling learners.