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Version 1.2 – Updated June 2023

Phonics instruction


  • Influence: Phonics instruction
  • Domain: Curricula
  • Sub-Domain: Reading, writing and the arts
  • Potential to Accelerate Student Achievement: Potential to accelerate
  • Influence Definition: A form of instruction that stresses the acquisition of letter-sound correspondences in reading and spelling. It involves teaching children the sounds made by individual letters or letter groups (for example, the letter "c" makes a k sound), and teaching children how to merge separate sounds together to make it one word (for example, blending the sounds k, a, t makes CAT).


  • Number of meta-analyses: 12
  • Number of studies: 426
  • Number of students: 22,316
  • Number of effects: 1,980
  • Weighted mean effect size: 0.48
  • Robustness index: 4


Journal Title Author First Author's Country Article Name Year Published Variable Number of Studies Number of Students Number of Effects Effect Size
Dissertation Gassler USA A meta-analysis of classroom studies that have compared code-emphasis to non-code-emphasis first grade reading methods. 1992 Word vs. non-word interventions 52 0 63 0.35
Journal of Educational Psychology Bus & van IJzendoorn Netherlands Phonological awareness and early reading: A meta-analysis of experimental training studies 1999 Phonological awareness training 70 5,843 1,484 0.73
Review of Educational Research Ehri, Nunes, Stahl, & Willows USA Systematic phonics instruction helps students learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel's meta-analysis. 2001 Systematic phonics instruction 34 0 66 0.41
Education Policy Analysis Archives Camilli, Vargas, & Yurecko USA "Teaching children to read': The fragile link between science and federal education policy 2003 Phonics instruction 40 0 40 0.24
Report Torgerson, Brooks, Hall & Britain UK A systematic review of the research literature on the use of phonics in the teaching of reading and spelling 2006 Phonics instruction 19 0 20 0.27
Dissertation Sherman USA A meta-analysis of interventions for phonemic awareness and phonics instruction for delayed older readers 2007 Phonemic awareness and phonics instruction 26 1,358 88 0.47
Education and Urban Society Jeynes USA A meta-analysis of the relationship between phonics instruction and minority elementary school student academic achievement 2007 Phonics for minority students 22 5,000 22 0.30
British Journal of Educational Psychology Adesope, Lavin, Thompson, & Ungerleider USA Pedagogical strategies for teaching literacy to ESL immigrant students: A meta-analysis. 2011 Systematic phonics instruction with ESL students 14 1,647 14 0.40
Reading Research Quarterly Piasta & Wagner USA Developing early literacy skills: a meta-analysis of alphabet Learning and Instruction 2010 Alphabet learning on outcomes 63 8,468 82 0.43
Review of Educational Research Weiser & Mathes USA Using encoding instruction to improve the reading and spelling performances of elementary students at risk for literacy difficulties: A best-evidence synthesis 2011 Encoding instruction 11 0 11 0.78
Plos One Galuschka, Ise, Krick, & Schulte-Korne Germany Effectiveness of treatment approaches for children and adolescents with reading disabilities: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials 2014 Phonic + Phonemic awareness programs 22 0 37 0.32
Studies in Psychology and Behavior Pan, Deng, Lin, & Liu China A meta-analysis of the relationship between Chinese students' English phonological awareness and reading achievement. 2019 Phonological awareness & achievement 53 0 53 0.77
TOTAL/AVERAGE 426 22,316 1,980 0.46
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