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Decodable text is a type of text often used in beginning reading instruction. With this type of text, new readers can decipher words using the phonics skills they have been taught. For instance, children could decode a phrase such as “Pat the fat rat” if they had been taught the letter-sound associations for each letter—that 'p' stands for the sound /p/, 'a' for the sound /a/, etc.
Generally, decodable text is used in programs that have a strong phonics emphasis. Whole-language and whole word methods of instruction generally use stories with familiar high-frequency words arranged in predictable and repetitive patterns.
The BCD decodable text system has the most number of levels. Having more levels means a child faces fewer challenges in progressing to the next level.
In the United States, certain states dictate that a very high percentage of the words in the earliest texts be decodable according to letter–sound correspondences that children have been taught. Advocates argue that this kind of text enables students to practice the phonics skills they have been taught. Critics argue that this kind of text is stilted and unnatural. In California, using the Whole Language approach was blamed for the drop in student reading scores and the California legislature mandated a renewed emphasis on decodable texts.
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