Updated evidence report on Reading Recovery

An updated report from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) provides new information on the effectiveness of Reading Recovery for beginning readers. Reading Recovery is a supplemental programme that provides one-to-one tutoring to children aged five or six. It aims to promote literacy skills and foster the development of reading and writing strategies by tailoring individualised lessons to each child. The WWC found that Reading Recovery has positive effects on general reading achievement and potentially positive effects on alphabetics, reading fluency, and comprehension for beginning readers.

Robert Slavin, a Professor in the IEE, published a recent blog post on Reading Recovery. In it, Jerry D’Agostino, director of Reading Recovery’s i3 project, explains how Reading Recovery has dealt with the challenge of long-term sustainability.

A computer is not enough

Researchers from the US National Bureau of Economic Research have published a new working paper that explores how important access to a home computer is to the educational achievement of children. They found no effects, either positive or negative, on a range of outcomes.

The authors conducted a randomised controlled trial with 1,123 pupils aged 11–16 without home computers from 15 schools across California. In the largest ever experiment involving the provision of free home computers, half of the pupils were randomly selected to receive free computers, while the other half served as the control group. The goal of the study was to evaluate the effects of home computers alone, so no training or other assistance was provided to the pupils who received the free computers.

At the end of the school year, data from the schools was used to measure the impact of the home computers on numerous educational outcomes. Findings showed that, although computer ownership and use increased substantially, there were no effects on grades, test scores, credits earned, attendance, or disciplinary actions in the experimental group.

Robert Slavin, Professor at the IEE, discussed a similar topic in a March blog post about Sugata Mitra’s “hole in the wall” experiment, in which he made a computer freely available to children in a Delhi slum. In his post, Slavin says, “If access to computers were decisive, middle-class children, at least, would be gaining rapidly. Admittedly, the technology itself keeps getting better and faster and easier to use, but from thirty years of experience in the developed world, it seems unlikely that access alone will lead children to become wise and capable.”

Source: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren (2013), NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research).

Clicking our way to great teaching

The latest blogpost by the IEE’s Robert Slavin looks at electronic response devices, and the recent studies of Questions for Learning (QfL) conducted by the IEE. He concludes: “The classroom of the future will surely have some means of giving teachers and students immediate feedback on students’ learning, and quick means of accommodating differences in student proficiency. QfL seems like a major step in this direction. The findings of the early research are encouraging, and as clickers get ever smarter, the possibilities seem exciting.”

Source: Clicking our way to great teaching (2012), Education Week (Sputnik Blog)

Can technology help struggling readers?

A new research review co-written by the Institute for Effective Education’s Robert Slavin, examines the effectiveness of educational technology for improving the reading achievement of struggling readers in primary schools. Four major categories of education technology are reviewed: small-group integrated applications, comprehensive models, supplemental computer-assisted instruction (CAI) programmes, and the Fast ForWord programme.

Findings of the review indicate that educational technology applications produced a positive but modest effect on the reading skills of struggling readers in comparison to “business as usual” methods. Among the four types of educational technology applications reviewed, small-group integrated applications such as Lindamood Phoneme Sequence Program and Read, Write, and Type produced the largest effect sizes, but these were mostly small studies, which tend to overstate programme impacts.

Supplementary models, such as Lexia, had a larger number of studies and a more modest effect size. Comprehensive models and the Fast ForWord programme did not produce meaningful positive effect sizes. However, the results for these two categories of programmes should be interpreted with extreme caution because of the small number of studies involved.

Source: Effects of educational technology applications on reading outcomes for struggling readers: A best evidence synthesis (2012), Best Evidence Encyclopedia

Sputnik in review

In his latest Education Week blog, Robert Slavin, director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education, has been discussing a thought-provoking speech by Baroness Estelle Morris, former Secretary of State for Education, at the last IEE conference. She noted that everyone involved in education wants the best for children, and that it’s appropriate to argue about values and desired outcomes.

But when we want to improve children’s learning (on whatever outcomes we’ve agreed to be important), we should look to the evidence, not to the political process. You can read a summary of the speech by Estelle Morris in the last issue of Better: Evidence-based Education and find out more about next year’s conference on the IEE website.

Source: Shouldn’t government be accountable too? (2012), Education Week (Sputnik Blog)

A Finnish model worth replicating

In a recent blog post, the IEE’s Robert Slavin argues that there is something we should copy from Finland. An article by Pasi Sahlberg, of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, explains that Finland’s success is no miracle, but is based on studying the policies and practices of other countries, trying them out in Finland, and keeping those that work.

The willingness to find out what works, regardless of its source, and then try it out at home, is one Finnish innovation we should emulate, comments Professor Slavin.

Source: A Finnish model worth replicating (2012), Education Week (Sputnik Blog)