Newswise — Phonics has failed to make the annual list of hot topics in literacy for the first time in 12 years. The "What's Hot, What's Not" survey has been a staple for literacy trend watchers since Jack Cassidy and his wife Drew, both with Texas A & M-Corpus Christi, began polling literacy leaders about what issues were getting attention (hot and very hot), which were not (cold, very cold) and which issues warrant more attention from reading professionals (should be hot).

Phonics' arrival on the "not hot" list may surprise many teachers and policymakers who recognize it as one of the five so-called pillars of reading instruction. Explaining its shifting status, Jack and Drew Cassidy point out that many literacy leaders have expressed concern that phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension could be viewed as equally important. "Comprehension and vocabulary instruction are more important than the other three," Cassidy notes. Debate over phonics instruction fueled the "reading wars" in the 1980's, leading one unnamed respondent to comment that phonics' move to the "not hot" list signals that "it is time to move on."

None of the topics on the list rated an "extremely hot" designation the way adolescent literacy did in 2007. It stays on the list as "very hot," along with early intervention, English-language learners, fluency, high-stakes assessment, informational/nonfiction texts, literacy/reading coaches, response to intervention, and scientifically-based reading research and instruction.

For more information about the 2008 "What's Hot, What's Not" survey, visit Reading Today, published by the International Reading Association, at

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