Educational Research Analysts  November 2009 Newsletter  
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In dysfunctional look-and-guess, "whole language," anti-phonics "Reading," sight words are words students memorize and supposedly "read" without knowing all their letter-sound correspondences. This wrongly reverses Bloom's taxonomy, which says students should master simple skills before attempting more complex tasks. And it voids this rule's pro-phonics application, that students should learn all letter-sound corre­spondences in phonetically-regular words before reading them.  The tainted term sight words is now passť. Yet the abuse lingers, rebadged as high-frequency words, which include phonetically-regular words taught as sight words that students "read" before they know all their letter-sound correspondences. Deletions and insertions below show how Texas educrats proposed calling such undecodable words decodable in Texas' new 1st grade Reading standards, but Texas' State Board of Education (SBOE) restored the true phonics definition of decodability.

Texas' SBOE found that:
  • "High-frequency
    word lists" include
    regular words
  • Teaching them as
    sight words does
    not make them
  • Pretending that
    it does, artificially
    inflates decodability
Decodable words are those words within a passage that contain letter/sound correspondences that have been taught. In addition, high frequency words that appear on the Eeds (1985) list of high frequency words and phonetically-irregular words that have been specifically taught in any previous lessons are considered decodable. Non-decodable words, on the other hand, include words not on the list of high frequency words, phonetically-regular words for which the sounds for every letter or letter combination or the syllabication rules have not been taught, … and phonetically-irregular words not previously taught.
Teaching phonetically-regular words on "high-frequency word lists" as sight words does not make them decodable. Previously teaching all their letter-sound correspondences does. Texas 1st grade Reading programs can teach any number of  still-undecodable phonetically-regular words as sight words. They just cannot count toward Texas' 80% minimum average decodability requirement. But for SBOE mastery of detail, anti-phonics moles would have voided Texas' pro-phonics intent in 1st grade Reading.
Mastery of detail is power