MiniLit targets the bottom 25% of readers in Year 1, those who still struggle to read at the end of one year of formal reading instruction in school. It consists of 80 one-hour lessons, typically delivered over 20 weeks, to groups of four students who come out of the regular class for the lesson. The lessons – delivered by either trained teachers or trained paraprofessionals under teacher supervision – focus on five keys to reading:
- phonemic awareness
- vocabulary; and
It is currently delivered in every state and territory in Australia.
Why are we funding it?
MiniLit focuses on students struggling with reading, who are disproportionately likely to be from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are a key focus of the Learning Impact Fund's work.
MiniLit is already operating at a large scale in Australia, so providing an independent evaluation of its efficacy is likely to be highly valuable to school leaders and policy makers.
Evidence for Learning anticipate that the results may also be beneficial internationally, as there are many children across English-speaking countries who struggle with reading in their early years of schooling.
What is the evidence to date?
Small randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of MiniLit conducted by the developers with delivery by Multilit staff indicate average effect sizes of .95 – 1.82, representing more than an additional year’s worth of progress for MiniLit students. A large non-randomised trial consolidating seven years’ worth of students in MiniLit indicates an average effect size of 1.6.
How are we evaluating it?
The Learning Impact Fund has appointed the Centre for Program Evaluation at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute as the evaluator for this trial. The evaluation team have extensive experience in the design and implementation of RCTs in early years, health and education.
The trial will be structured as an efficacy randomised controlled trial. Efficacy trials aim to test whether an intervention can work when it is delivered as intended. Nine schools will be recruited to this trial, with students performing in the bottom 25% of readers nationally being randomly allocated to receive MiniLit in Year 1 (the intervention group) or in Year 2 (the control group).
The project will look at the impact of the program on students’ reading fluency, accuracy and comprehension six months after the MiniLit Year 1 delivery, prior to MiniLit Year 2 delivery.
When will the evaluation report be due?
The evaluation report is scheduled to be due in 2018.