I am a retired professor of neuropsychology who developed a research program on the relationship between the brain and learning disability. I want to outline one particular study and show its importance in how we diagnose and teach the children we now label learning disabled.
An identified group of poor readers who had clear phonological deficits in reading were compared to average readers on two simple tasks. A group of words preselected to be in the sight vocabulary of all participants were paired under two conditions. In one case the student had to say whether the words meant the same, opposite, or unrelated. In the second task the students had to say whether the two words rhymed.
In the semantic task there were no differences between the two groups, but the students with phonological deficits performed much worse on the rhyme task. Even though they knew what the word meant and its relationship with other words, they could not pronounce the word.
I was never a K-12 teacher but it seems to make more sense to build on strength than remediate weakness. The purpose of reading is to get meaning from the printed word and the all the children in the study could do that. A prime approach is phonetic decoding. The poor readers could not use that approach, but they learned to read despite it. What is ironic is that we call the way the poor readers do it without phonics as speed reading and pay for a course to learn it.
A phonetic approach worked for me and for many others, but it does not work for everyone. If phonetic decoding does not work for some children, use something that will.
Phonetic decoding is a Means toward the End of reading. Are we confusing the End and the Means? Do we use phonics for deaf children?
Note: The study was a published Ph,D. dissertation and available on request.