One of the world’s most powerful literacy programs.
Learning outcomes of R2L have been independently evaluated since 2000. In 2001, the Australian government’s What Works program for Indigenous education reported that in just one year, R2L lifted “the average improvement in reading and writing by 2.5 Profile levels”. As each English Profile level equalled 1.5 years growth, this improvement rate was equivalent to almost four year’s growth in one year.
In 2006, the Catholic Education Office Melbourne reported similar results. Measured against the Victorian Curriculum and Standards Framework (CSF), “that average literacy gains across all schools and classes, and among students from all backgrounds and ability ranges, was approximately double the expected rate of literacy development. Furthermore, 20% of students made gains of two or more CSF levels, or four times the expected rate of literacy development.”
In 2016, Kenmore Primary School in Queensland got national publicity for its exceptional literacy growth. Principal Glenn Forbes attributed that growth to “a consistent approach to teaching reading”. That approach was Reading to Learn, which Kenmore was starting to implement across the school.
Literacy coordinator, Ingrid Freeman, explains that R2L was introduced in the lower school (Prep, Year 1 & 2) in 2014. Targeted support was provided for teachers to implement R2L from 2015.
In reading and writing, steady improvement can be seen from 2014, from average to well above national and similar schools. Spelling improved suddenly in 2016, as lower school teachers made the decision to use the R2L spelling strategies, in place of their traditional spelling practices. Grammar and punctuation saw huge growth, following R2L’s integrated approach to grammar as meaning. Kenmore PS also outperformed other schools in Numeracy, using R2L’s strategies for teaching the language of maths.
These results, so far above state, national and like schools averages, are especially remarkable as Kenmore has a major program for students with special needs. The literacy and numeracy growth of these students, along with the whole school, is a testament to the power of R2L to meet the needs of all students in the school.
Greenslopes State School has topped NAPLAN literacy and numeracy results in Queensland and nationally. Principal Kathy Canavan said “We use the Reading to Learn across the curriculum”. Click links for reports at My School, Brisbane Courier Mail and The Educator.
When applied to a tertiary context, similar results have been reported. A research project with Indigenous health science students at the University of Sydney found that in one year, found that most students, many of whom were at a junior secondary level, progressed to a academic literacy standard expected at first year undergraduate study. A more qualitative study for the National Centre for Vocational Education Research reported “that the R2L approach had positive results in increasing teacher knowledge about language and reading processes. It also helped the teachers become more systematic in their lesson planning. Students responded positively to a more explicit pedagogy as demonstrated by improved attendance and improved reading and language skills.”
In addition to these quantitative studies, qualitative studies of the professional learning program and effects in the classroom were conducted for the NSW Board of Studies. These studies concluded R2L ‘was seen as superior by practicing teachers in relation to other previous professional development experiences… teachers witnessed a general improvement level in all students irrespective of reading ability and literary experience. A work ethic became evident among those students that had never previously been able to engage for anything more than very short periods… attendance had elevated from 50% to 86% attending on a regular basis.’
Two key aspects of these results are that all students are accelerating their growth well above average learning rates, including the top students in any class, but that less successful students are accelerating much faster. No other program we know of closes the gap between top and bottom students so rapidly, at the same time as it accelerates the learning of all students.