"Decisions about School-Wide PD need to be Data Driven"

We often receive requests for research evidence that shows that our approach to reading instruction works. It is a reasonable request, especially in a learning environment which (quite rightly) pushes "The Science of Reading."

However, producing reliable/valid data that stands up to academic scrutiny is not easy to come by.

In the absence of peer reviewed academic research, the next best thing is what researchers refer to as the 'comparison against “business as usual” (BUA)' research model'.  That requires us to show that the implementation of our approach has resulted in a significant lift in reading achievement. The assumption behind this is that given a relatively stable student cohort and teaching staff, changes to the school-wide instructional reading processes should result in significant gains in student achievement if they are deemed to be adding value.

Below are samples of the sort of data that has been collected by SharpReading schools over the last 12 years.

Waitakiri School, Christchurch

We offered a FREE trial to Waitakiri School in 2022 and completed the initial training and in-class support with two selected Year 5&6 teachers.  

We randomly chose ten students from the classes that were going to be involved, and 5 students from another class that were going to continue with their existing program.

We then pretested them using our Informal Prose Inventory and again 6 months later. 

Yes I can hear those of you raising concerns about the reserach design and obvious potential for bias, but this is meant to be indicitave rather than definitive research, so bear with us.

To summarise 60% of the students involved in the trial improved their instructional reading age by at least 1 year. 40% stayed on the same level. All 5 students in the control group stayed on the same instructional reading level.

Nambour Christian College, Queensland

NCC introduced SharpReading in 2017 and have now established the scope and sequence for Stages 1-6 across the school (Prep to Year 6). Click here for a video explaining their decision to use SharpReading as a school wide reading program. 

The graphs below show the movement in Naplan scores for the Year 5 cohort over the last 2 years and Year 7 cohort over the last four years (2021 data).

 It is generally acknowledged that pulling up and overtaking the National Naplan average from Year 3 to Year 7 is absolutely huge and not the norm at all.  A school might catch the National average if it were below it by targeted interventions but to go on to significantly exceed that average is very impressive. The school attributes these outcomes to SharpReading.

Linwood College, Christchurch NZ Year 7 2021

This is an example of the immediate impact on students who have had no previous experience with SharpReading and so far have only been exposed to SharpReading Stage 3. For those of you who are familiar with AsTTle testing you will recognise this as a significant shift in reading achievement.

Based on these results, Lincoln College is now planning a literacy intervention for all Year 9 students in 2022.

Sunshine Coast, Queensland - Naplan Scores

Here are two earlier examples of improvements in Naplan scores from two other Queensland schools . After trialling SharpReading in 2014 and noticing significant spikes in assessment data, the program was introduced school-wide and is now well embedded in the reading programmes of both schools. 

Both schools reported significant spikes in Naplan scores following the trialling and implementation of SharpReading.

NZ National Standards

This is the data supplied by one NZ school after 12 months of school-wide SharpReading implementation.

Note the normal curve that you would expect has now been significantly skewed to the right. Staff where adamant that this change came about through the change in instructional practices across the school.

Assessment Data collected in Two Divergent NZ Schools

Here is some of our own research. In 2010, when SharpReading was in its developmental phase, we undertook a data collection exercise in two Christchurch schools. This involved testing all Year 3-6 students in one school (Year 3-8 students in another school) before they embarked on our SharpReading approach, and then again after 9 months of instruction.

We used our Informal Prose Inventory testing procedure which measures decoding accuracy, retell ability and responses to questions to determine the reader's 'instructional reading age'. 

For us the most interesting outcome was the improvement in the students ability to retell the information they had just read. Although there was no difference in the way they read the text during testing, the conclusion is that the brain has now been habituated to automatically process the message much more deeply and hold onto the information which is widely acknowledged as one of the desired outcomes of comprehension instruction.  

Here is a sample of the specific data from this research collected from one Year 3 class and was typical of classroom results across both schools. After 9 months of instruction, the AVERAGE increase in instructional reading age was 2.31 years with 8 out of the 27 (30%) of the class making gains of 3+ years.

Al Hidayah Islamic School, Bentley, Western Australia

SharpReading has been a part of the reading programme at this school for 18 months. This data comes from Naplan testing for 2018 and 2016. At first glance the Year 5 data for 2018 is low as many of the students are below the national mean (509). 

However, when analysed using their Year 3 reading scores to measure the progress of the cohort over the 2 year period, it can be seen that most of these students (75%) are over the 0.8 effect size (expected growth over a 2 year period). This indicates strong progress and improvement which the school attributes to the SharpReading approach to reading being implemented.

CLICK HERE to view a video clip from the school's Facebook page about SharpReading.

Ashburton Intermediate 2017

Thank you to Ashburton Intermediate for sharing their results from 2017. Congratulations on making a significant difference!

"To evaluate the effectiveness of the programme, the current Year 7 students (2017) are being tracked over 2 years. The STAR Reading Test* has been chosen to measure progress. The entry data is based on Year 7 Stanines and the end of year data is based on Year 8 Stanines. As you can see the movement shown is significant! We are VERY excited about the progress we have made so far."

*STAR reading tests are standardised assessment tools, designed to supplement the assessments that teachers make about their students' progress and achievement in reading. They cover a range of reading skills corresponding closely to the main components outlined in The Literacy Learning Progressions (NZ Ministry of Education, 2010). 

Linwood Avenue School, Christchurch 2016

Report on the SharpReading Initiative: Linwood Avenue School, Christchurch, Year 3&4 classes .
By Tracey Jongens, RTLB  2016  (click on image to view PDF of the report).

This is a report conducted by an RTLB teacher who initiated a SharpReading intervention in one of her schools and wanted to monitor the impact that SharpReading had.

We are always looking for data that backs up what we KNOW is happening in schools that have adopted a SharpReading approach to instruction. If you have some significant data tucked away please share it with us and everyone else!


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