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Someone just left this comment on Facebook: "As far as I know, everywhere is sending sight words home to study, while the kids are tested on how fast they can identify them at school. Seems they're here to stay. Unfortunate indeed."
The whole point of the Reading Wars was that sight-words do not work as well as straight phonics. But look how the Education Establishment has maneuvered to keep sight-words in play. They really do LOVE mediocrity.
But seriously we don't have to argue over theoretical issues. The phonics people say that kids should learn to read in four months but certainly in the first grade. When you bring sight words or whole word into the picture, many kids are still semi-literate in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades. The contrast is really dramatic. So test your kids. Test your local schools. Test your community, as explained here: http://www.examiner.com/article/norfolk-and-virginia-beach-schools-...
The problem is that once the brain is trained to see a whole design or pattern (i.e. a sight-word), then the brain ceases to be good at decoding the phonetic words. Schizophrenia is built in by the school. It's a sort of lobotomy on the sly.
BTW: Identifying sight-words in a second or two or three or four is meaningless. Give someone a list of 60 sight-words and if they can read those in less than a minute, then you could say, all right, here is someone who can actually read with sight-words. But I'll bet you won't find anybody like that. Or not one student in 25. And note that one word per second is very slow. And I'll bet that the typical rate is not even 30 words per minute. It's hard work to memorize 60 sight-words with automaticity!.... If this cockamamie method worked, we would have the schools full of young children who can pick up random books and actually read them. We don't have that. What we have is middle school children who can pick up a book at random and say, "I hate reading." Translation: "I'm 12 but I still don't know how to read."