Ambitious new project to raise literacy and numeracy levels in Victoria’s schools
Pupils taking part in a University of Melbourne and Catholic Education Office Melbourne (CEOM) project have improved their reading ability by at least three times the state average.
The project, being conducted by the Melbourne Graduate School of Education in partnership with the CEOM was piloted in 19 Melbourne Catholic primary schools, and the stunning results were achieved after just one year. Pupils in one school achieved five times the state average gain in reading ability in one year.
Now, the Melbourne Graduate School of Education has secured funding to build on these findings by working with up to 600 schools across Victoria, in partnership with the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and the Catholic Education Office Melbourne.
Seven out of the nine Victorian government school regions are involved or considering becoming involved in the program; ultimately the University is looking for the program to be made available to all government schools in the state.
As part of the $2million project, which includes $860,000 from the Australian Research Council, University staff work with teams of teachers to show them how to use existing data to improve students’ literacy and numeracy levels.
By working with data from assessments such as NAPLAN (the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy) in the state systems and commercial tests in the Catholic system, teachers learn how to use data to construct tailored ‘learning interventions’ for students, according to their ability.
Professor Patrick Griffin, who is leading the project on behalf of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, says for literacy levels to improve teachers need to target their teaching to support students of every ability, from the highest achievers in the class to the least able.
"By interpreting kids’ test results to show every student’s level of competence, teachers can develop tailored teaching approaches to meet the needs of each individual in their class. The test score then becomes a starting point for teachers rather than an end point of assessment. It's a simple process and teachers easily and enthusiastically pick up the idea," he says.
"The really exciting outcome is that the literacy levels of all students improve as a result of this model. We’ve heard a lot of negative comments on national testing in the media lately, but this is an example of where test results can be used for positive gains, as long as they are shared with teachers who know how to use them effectively."
More information: www.education.unimelb.edu.au
Notes to Editors
* The pilot project conducted by the Melbourne Graduate School of Education in partnership with the Catholic Education Office Melbourne was called the Literacy Assessment Project. This project ran between 2005 and 2008.
* The $2m project, which is just starting, is called The influence of evidence-based decisions by collaborative teacher teams on student achievement. This project will address three questions. The first looks at the relationship between the teaching intervention and the student gains, the second investigates the means of scaling the program up, perhaps to statewide level, and the third investigates the means of sustainability over time and locations. This project will be conduced in both Melbourne Catholic Schools and Victorian state schools.