This audio paper summarises four evidence-based practices to improve student literacy and numeracy outcomes at school.
1. Intervene early and maintain the focus.
2. Know what students can do and target teaching accordingly.
3. Have clear and transparent learning goals
4. Focus on teacher professional learning that improves the teaching of literacy and numeracy.
The paper also examines the research on the importance of literacy and numeracy skills to individuals and to society more broadly, including employment outcomes, the economy, social inclusion, health, and other variables.
This course allows educators to engage with contemporary literature on literacy and numeracy and connect it to their own practice.
Mode of delivery: online
Accredited hours: 1.5
myPL course code: RG03814
Themes: literacy and numeracy
Learn more about the Literacy and numeracy publication.
Assessing Literacy and Numeracy (ALAN) is a suite of applications developed as part of the NSW Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2017-2020.
The ALAN portal directs staff to online tools including PLAN2, Best Start Kindergarten Assessment (BSKA) and Best Start Year 7.
For more information on how to use ALAN applications, visit the ALAN helpdesk site.
Full report Executive summary
Evaluator company/business: Erebus International
URL or PDF: Download the Evaluation of the NSW Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan 2012-2016 (PDF, 2.93MB) and Executive summary (PDF, 519kB)
Summary: The Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan 2012-2016 was developed to address the widespread inequalities in learning outcomes known to exist from the earliest years of schooling in NSW schools serving low socioeconomic status communities. This report presents the findings of an evaluation of NSW Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan 2012-2016. It examines the extent to which student literacy and numeracy improved, factors that may have led to any improvement, and the extent to which any improvement achieved was cost-effective.
Authors: Alison Wallace, Benita Power, Lee Holloway, Chloe Harkness
Evaluator Company/Business: Urbis
URL or PDF: Download the External evaluation of the selected NPLN NSW Programs: Evaluation of Focus on Reading 3-6 final report (PDF, 1.5MB)
Summary: The evaluation aimed to assess the effectiveness of the Focus on Reading 3-6 program, to identify the extent to which the program was operating as intended and to assess whether the program had improved the educational outcomes of Aboriginal students. Focus on Reading 3-6 was designed to provide professional learning support to classroom teachers in a school or community of schools. The main goals of the program were to increase teacher knowledge about how to develop fluent readers and to develop comprehension and vocabulary skills based on effective evidence-based practices. The evaluation methodology comprised a knowledge review, scoping of data sets, site visits, and stakeholder interviews and surveys. In both the quantitative and qualitative research, the great majority of teachers and school staff reported increased knowledge and skills in teaching reading. Gains in mean reading scores were also observed for all student cohorts at Focus on Reading 3-6 schools.
The Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan 2012-2016 was developed to address the widespread inequalities in learning outcomes known to exist from the earliest years of schooling in NSW schools serving low socio-economic status communities. This report presents the findings of an evaluation of NSW Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan 2012-2016. It examines the extent to which student literacy and numeracy improved, factors that may have led to any improvement, and the extent to which any improvement achieved was cost-effective.
To help share the evidence, Effective reading is available as a summary poster (PDF, 324kB).
Reading is a foundational, yet complex cognitive skill upon which other skills are built. Early success in reading is a powerful predictor of later achievement in a range of other academic areas. Individuals without literacy skills are at risk of being unable to participate in the workforce or engage fully in civic and social life.
Since 2000, there have been major reviews of the teaching of reading in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. These reviews, along with other research, have consistently identified five key components of effective reading programs: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The CESE literature review ‘Effective reading instruction in the early years of school’ summarises this research and concludes that, to be most successful, the five key components must be taught explicitly, sequentially and systematically.
The ability to hear the sounds in spoken words and understand that words are made up of sequences of sounds.
Phonics instruction connects phonemes with written letters so that the reader can transfer knowledge of sounds to the printed word. Synthetic phonics’ is the approach with the most robust evidence base.
The ability to read quickly and naturally with accuracy and expression. Fluency contains the skill of automaticity which allows a reader to recognise words quickly.
When children ‘sound out’ a word, their brain connects the pronunciation of a sequence of sounds to a word in their vocabulary to find a logical match. If a match is not created because the word they are reading is not in their vocabulary, comprehension is interrupted.
The understanding and interpretation of what is read. Comprehension requires having a sufficient vocabulary.
URL or PDF: Download Reading Recovery: a sector-wide analysis (PDF, 1.23MB).
Summary: The primary aims of this study were to examine the impact of Reading Recovery (RR) on students’ literacy outcomes at the end of Year 1 and whether any benefits associated with participating in RR are sustained over the longer term to Year 3. This evaluation was conducted state-wide across NSW government schools. It focussed on identifying the impact of RR on student outcomes compared to similar students who attended a school that did not offer RR. The study employed a quasi-experimental design drawing on retrospective data that detailed participation in RR and student outcomes in the early years of school. The results showed some evidence that RR has a modest short-term effect on reading skills among the lowest performing students. However, RR does not appear to be an effective intervention for students that begin Year 1 with more proficient literacy skills. In the longer-term, there was no evidence of any positive effects of RR on students’ reading performance in Year 3.
This paper examines evidence-based practices that can be implemented by schools to enhance literacy and numeracy performance. Educating students in literacy and numeracy is a key responsibility of schools as literacy and numeracy are ‘foundational skills’ that underpin the subsequent development of more complex skills. Literacy and numeracy skills also underpin workforce participation, productivity and the broader economy, and can impact on social and health outcomes. Individuals without these skills are at risk of not being able to participate in the workforce or engage fully in social and civic life.
Intervene early and maintain the focus
Research shows that access to quality early childhood education programs makes a significant and long-term difference to children’s development in many areas, including their cognitive development. Early intervention needs to be followed by continued high quality learning experiences to maintain efficacy. The first three years of school are a peak window within which children develop the literacy and numeracy skills that they will carry into upper primary and secondary school.
Know what students can do and target teaching accordingly
There is a wide range of learning achievement amongst students in Australian schools. Targeted teaching can lift the performance of students who are many years behind and also challenge students who are already well ahead of year-level expectations. In order to implement targeted teaching effectively, teachers need accurate information about what students know and are ready to learn next. This information can be acquired through the use of formative assessment which has been shown to have a significant effect on learning across the spectrum.
Have clear and transparent learning goals
Research shows that having clear and transparent learning goals at both the school and classroom level leads to improvements in learning achievement. Evidence shows that students who experience explicit teaching practices perform better than students who do not. Explicit teaching practice involves teachers clearly showing students what to do and how to do it, rather than having students discover or construct this information for themselves. Well-defined learning continua or progressions support explicit teaching by enabling teachers to understand what is to be learned and to determine accurately students’ current learning achievement.
Focus on teacher professional learning that improves the teaching of literacy and numeracy
High-quality teaching is the greatest in-school influence on student engagement and outcomes. Quality professional learning increases teaching quality. Research indicates that professional learning is most effective if it deepens teachers’ content knowledge and knowledge about how students learn that content; is supported by the wider school community and is seen as part of achieving whole school goals; and is linked to clear and relevant goals that are related to student outcomes.
The information on this page is also available as a one-page summary (PDF, 162kB).
The Connected Communities interim evaluation report (PDF, 2MB) presents qualitative and quantitative findings regarding the implementation and achievement of key deliverables at the midpoint of the five year Connected Communities Strategy. The evaluation aims to answer how well the model has been formed and implemented across schools, as well as outcomes and impact of distinct components of the strategy.