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US White Paper champions NZ-developed Reading Recovery as accelerating learning in a pandemic

A new early literacy framework designed to support a school-wide approach to building positive and equitable outcomes for children is being introduced to hundreds of New Zealand schools this year.

The new framework enables Reading Recovery teachers to not only provide personalised support to an individual child, but to extend their expertise to support classroom teachers in small group settings, reaching more children.

It was initially rolled out to 40 schools last year, and as a result of a real shift in student achievement, it now has more than 250 primary schools registered to take part.

Created by New Zealander Marie Clay, Reading Recovery is an early intervention for literacy learning that has helped more than 300,000 children in New Zealand catch up with their classmates.

Eighty percent of New Zealand children who have participated in Reading Recovery return to an acceptable literacy level.

Dr Rebecca Jesson, University of Auckland Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education and Social Work and the Research and Academic Director for Tui Tuia I The Learning Circle, says quality teachers and interventions such as Reading Recovery are the vital link to accelerated learning.

“Reading Recovery provides children with the support they need to be confident readers and writers. It identifies those students who are not making progress in the classroom and quickly brings them up to acceptable levels of literacy.

“The new framework is a positive step in the right direction.  It enables us to build on Reading Recovery’s long standing, researched success and paves the way for us to work with more schools and more teachers, to reach even more children, earlier.”

From term two last year, small classroom group teaching has rolled out with impressive initial results.

“Over eight weeks, we have been seeing reading and writing rates increase at double the average classroom progress.

“By working within classrooms, and working with classroom teachers and whānau, the data is showing children’s word writing progress accelerated, and the pace of progress in reading levels was approximately twice that expected in regular literacy curriculum, despite the interruption from lockdowns in 2021,” said Dr Jesson.

The small group approach is led by an expert Reading Recovery teacher working collaboratively with the classroom teacher and whānau.

“Collaborating more closely with whānau and class teachers is in step with the government’s new literacy strategy, and helps us to build a more vivid picture of the best way a student learns, while personalising their learning based on the children’s strengths.

“Long term, Reading Recovery teachers are also helping to develop a range of skills in classroom teachers, boosting their capabilities,” said Dr Jesson.

She says education science is at the heart of Reading Recovery.

“Early literacy gives children the confidence and skills to navigate this world. Reading Recovery brings together oral, aural, written and visual stimuli together to make sense. Kids struggle when the foundation isn’t set. This evidence-based approach has been developed to catch children before they need one-to-one intervention – it’s a prevention strategy, to avoid needing an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

“No other approach measures children’s literacy at the start and end of a school year to assess results.”

A recently published US white paper Rebounding and reinvesting. Where the evidence points for accelerating learning explores best ways to accelerate student learning in post-lockdown life, revealing quality teachers have the biggest influence on our children’s education when they head back to school, and refers to Reading Recovery as one of the teaching strategies that has the most impact on student learning.

“Schools can focus on accelerating learning by starting from where students are at and where they are ready to go next. The starting point will not be the same for every student in the class.

“A highly trained teacher will notice a child’s needs and will adjust their teaching to maximise the impact on student learning.”

She says Reading Recovery teachers are looking forward to supporting schools’ literacy planning and assessment, and collaborating with researchers, education leaders, teachers and whānau to build positive literacy outcomes for all children in Aotearoa.

“We are excited to help teachers implement classroom best practice to lift child literacy levels. We can prepare our children to thrive in the new world we are living – a digital world of learning through a pandemic.“

To signal this change, Reading Recovery has refreshed its identity with a new website and a new logo designed with a te ao Māori lens, reinforcing New Zealand’s unique place in the world.  Inspired by stories of the harakeke, the logo has been designed to remind us that literacy learning has many layers to support a child.

Our Whakatauki

Kotahi karihi nāna ko te wao tapu nui a Tāne.

The creation of the forests of Tāne comes from one kernel.

Put simply, starting small leads to growth, and by supporting a child’s literacy, we help them gain the confidence to grow and succeed.

About Tui Tuia | Learning Circle

Tui Tuia | Learning Circle delivers quality education and mentoring programs designed to inspire, uplift and help prepare schools and kura, whānau and communities for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Its work is informed by the latest research and findings through its close relationship with the University of Auckland.

Our passionate and experienced team works alongside leaders, teachers and school communities in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific, co-constructing Professional Learning & Development (PLD) programmes which focus on lifting professional practice and improving outcomes for learners. Our alignment with the University of Auckland enables us to deliver services and solutions that are  grounded in best-in-class research, insights and innovation.

Our programme offering includes Leadership, Assessment for Learning, Cultural Capability for Māori and Pasifika, Mātauranga Māori and te reo Māori, Curriculum Design as well as specialist services like Reading Recovery, Literacy support and Learning Languages programmes.