Literacy

Making sure our literacy teaching is equitable

Dr Rebecca Jesson
May 18, 2022
Literacy

Making sure our literacy teaching is equitable

Dr Rebecca Jesson
Dr Rebecca Jesson
May 18, 2022

Reading Recovery had been designed as an early intervention programme to notice when students needed something different to help them learn.  With a small amount of extra support each day, children bridged that gap so that they can keep pace with their Year 2 classmates.

It  has helped thousands of children gain confidence in reading and writing, not just in New Zealand but around the world, with over 40 years of research and evaluation results to prove its efficacy.  The evaluation of New Zealand Reading Recovery told us that we are effective in improving literacy levels for the children we teach. That we are no more expensive for schools than other supports. That the training is valued by schools, but that fewer schools are using Reading Recovery, because demand for support exceeded what could be provided.

The challenge then, was finding a way to serve more students and to make a wider impact on school literacy levels. We also needed to build in recent research about literacy and about effective interventions.

As a result, since 2021, National Reading Recovery has been evolving the way the programme is delivered in schools to help enable stronger and more equitable outcomes for children.  We know there are no simple quick fixes to support all learners, so we are building systems for collecting, analysing and using evidence to self improve.

Our solution is embracing complexity. For multifaceted complex and long term issues, there aren’t silver bullets or simple solutions. Instead, it's a collective, joined-up response.

It’s highly skilled teachers, making responsive decisions based on evidence.  It’s drawing on what we know about the child, and how they are making sense of literacy, to support them to learn while talking, reading, and writing. It’s teachers' problem-solving, collaborating and sharing expertise.  

Put together, it is planning effective, balanced school-wide programmes that build children’s love of literacy and self-confidence in learning.

We’ve started this transformative process and have had some great feedback and exciting results. One review said:

A huge benefit of Early Literacy Support is what I learnt about reading and teaching reading - best professional development ever. I feel extremely lucky to have been part of this trial.  I believe it should continue as it is picking up potential Reading Recovery students before they really struggle - hopefully giving them the skills to continue to thrive as lifelong readers.

We’ve also implemented educational science processes, to ensure that we continue to self improve. This includes more frequent reporting on child literacy development, monitoring progress and more support for the teacher network.

We aren’t there yet, as there is always more to be done. Ultimately, what we can contribute to schools are highly trained teachers making catalytic teaching decisions with colleagues, building on the strengths of students, families and communities.  That’s the complex world of teaching.

Dr Rebecca Jesson
Dr Rebecca Jesson is an Associate Professor in literacy education at The University of Auckland - Faculty of Education and Social Work. She is also a Reading Recovery Trainer and is the Academic & Research Director for National Reading Recovery Centre, Aotearoa.
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Making sure our literacy teaching is equitable

Reading Recovery had been designed as an early intervention programme to notice when students needed something different to help them learn.  With a small amount of extra support each day, children bridged that gap so that they can keep pace with their Year 2 classmates.

It  has helped thousands of children gain confidence in reading and writing, not just in New Zealand but around the world, with over 40 years of research and evaluation results to prove its efficacy.  The evaluation of New Zealand Reading Recovery told us that we are effective in improving literacy levels for the children we teach. That we are no more expensive for schools than other supports. That the training is valued by schools, but that fewer schools are using Reading Recovery, because demand for support exceeded what could be provided.

The challenge then, was finding a way to serve more students and to make a wider impact on school literacy levels. We also needed to build in recent research about literacy and about effective interventions.

As a result, since 2021, National Reading Recovery has been evolving the way the programme is delivered in schools to help enable stronger and more equitable outcomes for children.  We know there are no simple quick fixes to support all learners, so we are building systems for collecting, analysing and using evidence to self improve.

Our solution is embracing complexity. For multifaceted complex and long term issues, there aren’t silver bullets or simple solutions. Instead, it's a collective, joined-up response.

It’s highly skilled teachers, making responsive decisions based on evidence.  It’s drawing on what we know about the child, and how they are making sense of literacy, to support them to learn while talking, reading, and writing. It’s teachers' problem-solving, collaborating and sharing expertise.  

Put together, it is planning effective, balanced school-wide programmes that build children’s love of literacy and self-confidence in learning.

We’ve started this transformative process and have had some great feedback and exciting results. One review said:

A huge benefit of Early Literacy Support is what I learnt about reading and teaching reading - best professional development ever. I feel extremely lucky to have been part of this trial.  I believe it should continue as it is picking up potential Reading Recovery students before they really struggle - hopefully giving them the skills to continue to thrive as lifelong readers.

We’ve also implemented educational science processes, to ensure that we continue to self improve. This includes more frequent reporting on child literacy development, monitoring progress and more support for the teacher network.

We aren’t there yet, as there is always more to be done. Ultimately, what we can contribute to schools are highly trained teachers making catalytic teaching decisions with colleagues, building on the strengths of students, families and communities.  That’s the complex world of teaching.