Evidence for Learning today announced a collaboration with the NSW Government to evaluate the MiniLit program, an approach to improving literacy skills for Year 1 children who are falling behind.
MiniLit targets students leaving Kindergarten in the bottom 25% of readers and helps them reach a reading level where they can participate in class on a par with other students by the end of Year 1.
This is the first time in Australia that an independent randomised controlled trial has tested a program that teaches key reading elements such as phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The evaluation will be conducted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Centre for Program Evaluation at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.
Evidence for Learning Director Matthew Deeble said, 'The results of this first-of-its kind trial will generate solid evidence of the best way to improve reading skills for our students.
'Recent international tests that show Australian high school students are up to one school year behind the reading performance of their peers in the world's best performing countries. We can have a big impact on this if we address problems early with evidence based programs.
'Too much of the debate never moves beyond opinion and guesswork. Trials like this build up the evidence base to ensure that governments and schools can make decisions based on what works instead of who shouts the loudest.
'MiniLit is a promising program to help struggling Year 1 readers get back on track. This trial will compare its impact with a control group to measure the degree of the benefit. The trial will run in more than 20 NSW public schools with 320 students taking part throughout 2017.
'We will independently report on the results in 2018 showing both learning gains and costs to implement. The trial will provide valuable information to schools and parents about how to help every child get a great start at school.
'We run this kind of trial so we can arm our teachers with access to the latest proven strategies - what works and, just as importantly, what doesn’t. Good quality research conducted in Australian schools provides the best possible information to make education choices for our students.
'Only investing in proven approaches ensures no child is left behind struggling with reading.'
Dace Elletson, Principal of Annandale Public School, which runs the MiniLit program, and Matt Deeble, Evidence for Learning Director are available for interview.
Evidence for Learning is incubated by Social Ventures Australia (SVA) with the support of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Education Endowment Foundation (UK) as founding partners.