Tailored approach to teaching reading may help lift literacy rates

Griffith University researchers have collaborated on a research project to help reading professionals lift literacy rates in students.

Associate Professor Marleen Westerveld from the Griffith Institute for Educational Research, Professor Georgina Barton from the University of Southern Queensland, Dr Rebecca Armstrong from the University of Queensland and Jennifer Peach from the Reading Centre developed a five-step assessment to intervention framework to help professionals involved in the teaching of reading understand what is involved in successful reading. It also explains why some students struggle with reading, and how to initiate targeted, evidence-based support and intervention.

“The comparatively low levels of reading performance of Australian primary students compared to international benchmarks has been high on the agenda of policy-makers and education professionals for many years,’’ Associate Professor Westerveld said.

“Successful reading is linked to academic success, socio-emotional wellbeing, and employment outcomes.”

“And although there is strong research evidence on how children acquire and develop their reading skills and on what successful intervention looks like for struggling readers, many educators have trialled a one-size-fits-all approach to lift student outcomes or simply implemented strategies they feel confident using.

“Our knowledge translation project aimed to bridge that gap by using a clearly defined theoretical framework.”

Using an education — speech pathology collaborative practice model, the researchers implemented the five-step assessment to intervention approach, over a three-year-period, across two cohorts of students in a primary school and documented the process in an easily accessible publication.

Reading Success in the Primary Years offers valuable insights for educators, speech pathologists, researchers, and pre-service teacher education students committed to lifting student reading outcomes in Australia and overseas,” Associate Professor Westerveld said.

Since publication in late May it has been downloaded 22,000 times.

“We hope this research will contribute to the use of evidence-based assessment and intervention practices in schools to ensure better reading outcomes.”