DECD have recently announced that the controversial Arrowsmith Program will be offered at one of its public schools. Even though DECD have assured us no public money is being spent, as parents are subsidising the cost, the very act of allowing it in a public school gives it a sense of legitimacy that doesn’t exist. Dyslexia SA is trying to confirm the level of support to this trial. What is DECD’s criteria for the success of this trial? Surely it should be based on scientific principles of evidence. If Arrowsmith haven’t provided this evidence over decades, why should this ‘trial’ be any different.

Precious curriculum time for the children involved will be lost, let alone time that could be spent on actual evidence based interventions. Arrowsmith is an unacceptable and inequitable cost shift to families of many thousands of dollars per year. Schools have access to many quality programs, but still choose balanced literacy, whole language and neurobollocks approaches. Julie Mavlian explains:

“Teachers have an essential role in identifying students who may struggle with reading and offer appropriate intervention early when it is most effective. Preventing reading failure saves money, saves teachers time and energy but most importantly saves students from potentially devastating lifelong effects of illiteracy.

Immediately after Federal Education Minister announced the members of an expert advisory panel to help drive the government’s educational reforms — including the phonics check — the AEU criticised the check by essentially saying “schools need more money, not a test”.

Before the Federal Government commits funds, they need to know that it is going to be invested wisely in resources that will produce much needed results, and not on, what Professor Pam Snow refers to as educational ‘neuroflapdoodle’.”

Alberta Human Rights Commission decision of 15 February 2017 – Parents argued a school district discriminated against their child by not funding the Arrowsmith Program – it didn’t.…/a…/doc/2017/2017ahrc3/2017ahrc3.html

“During this hearing, no scientific basis was demonstrated and among the five experts who testified, no one was able to show empirical evidence supporting the Arrowsmith method.” Joanne Archibald, Tribunal Chair

“Charisma, anecdotes, testimonials. Pay no attention. In fact, if someone offering a program for children with learning difficulties offers you anecdotes and testimonials, run a mile. They are usually a strong indication of a lack of proper evidence for the program.

What matters for children with learning difficulties is whether there is good evidence to support doing what the program does. Science is how we make sure we aren’t just believing what we want to believe.

More links to the lack of research and efficacy of the Arrowsmith program is below:


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Arrowsmith Should Not be Allowed in SA Public Schools!