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Joint International Statement in Response to Hanford’s Sold a Story

Published On: October 26th, 2022 | Categories: Latest News |


In response to Sold A Story, a podcast by Emily Hanford

A Joint Statement from 

  • North American Trainers Group
  • Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery
  • Reading Recovery Europe
  • Reading Recovery New Zealand
  • Reading Recovery of Australia
  • International Reading Recovery Trainers Organization
  • Reading Recovery Council of North America

This joint statement is in response to the recent podcast presented by a journalist, Emily Hanford, who attempted to provide an historical summary of Marie Clay’s academic journey and an explanation of Marie Clay’s theory of literacy processing and instruction.  This podcast presented a misinterpretation of Clay’s body of scientific studies, a distortion of the facts, and quotes taken out of context.


The reporter’s explanations of Clay’s theory of how children learn to read and her assertion that Clay did not value the importance of word analysis skills and phonics in the teaching of reading and writing are an inaccurate representation of her theory.


Marie Clay was a prominent clinical child psychologist who spent her lifetime studying reading acquisition and ways to alleviate literacy difficulties in young children.  She spent at least forty years on work that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of initially struggling readers becoming successful readers and writers.  Her early literacy intervention, Reading Recovery, is found in English-speaking countries around the world and has been redeveloped in multiple languages.  Her other areas of study and significant contributions include oral language development and early writing.


Her awards are numerous and prestigious, given by foundations such as The Charles Dana Award for pioneering contributions to health and education.  She was identified by her research peers as being the most influential researcher over three decades and was described by Richard Anderson, Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as one of the most remarkable educators and scholars of the 20th century.


Her excellence in scholarship was also recognized with awards from national and international associations of professionals, including the International Reading Association, the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science, the New Zealand Association for Research in Education, and the National Council for the Teaching of English.  She was named the First New Zealander, and she has received five honorary degrees.


Marie Clay was an impeccable researcher, a prolific prize-winning writer, and a continuous learner throughout her long professional life. This podcast fails in its portrayal of Marie Clay and incorrectly represents her thinking and contributions.

Fact Check: Three Things Hanford Got Wrong about Dr. Marie Clay
Marie Clay: A Personal Reflection on an Unparalleled Professional Career
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