Keeping children engaged and achieving in reading

The Education Review Office (ERO) has released the latest in its Teaching Strategies that Work series. “Keeping children engaged and achieving in reading” is a description of strategies used by primary schools which have significantly improved their students’ achievement in reading.

This resource is the third in a series of reports derived from a national study of teaching approaches and strategies used in schools where there has been a significant increase in the number of students at or above the expected level in the upper primary school years (Years 5 to 8).

“The evidence is strong that the quality of classroom teaching is a critical component in educational outcomes for our children, so that’s why ERO wants to emphasise the importance of effective teaching strategies and approaches,” said Chief Review Officer, Nicholas Pole.

“In this report we have focused on reading programmes because reading is a critical skill that enables children to engage with all aspects of the curriculum. Reading proficiency is a gateway to the world. It is a foundation to learning across the curriculum and is equally a source of personal enjoyment.

“Children’s success in all learning is largely the consequence of effective literacy teaching. Literacy learning builds cumulatively on each learner’s existing proficiency.

“It is concerning to see that more Year 5 children scored below the Progress in International Reading Literacy study’s (PIRLs) low international benchmark and less children reached the advanced international benchmark than in 2010.  In 2015, most English speaking countries had higher percentages of students who reached the high and advanced benchmarks than New Zealand. These results show that widespread improvements are needed in our teaching of reading.

“This study looks at schools that are beating this trend. In this evaluation we ask the leaders of these successful schools what they saw as the reasons for their school’s positive achievement trajectory. We then investigated the teaching strategies that had been implemented, and the outcomes that resulted.

“In these schools, every teacher took on responsibility for raising reading achievement levels. They changed from relying on out-of-class interventions for children who were not succeeding and instead sought to improve their teaching so every child in their class could experience success. They tackled children’s reading from an early age so that strong foundations were laid for ongoing success later in their primary schooling.

Teachers grouped children in mixed‑ability groups to match their interests and needs rather than their reading ability. They introduced reluctant readers to text that matched their own age and interests, and gave them strategies to succeed with the text. New approaches vastly improved the confidence and self‑efficacy of reluctant readers and led to better outcomes in Years 5 and 6.

“One of the key features in the most successful schools was the way leaders monitored the teaching to determine if the agreed approaches and strategies were implemented correctly in each class and were benefitting the children that needed the most support. In great schools, leaders’ ensure that they themselves have confidence in monitoring teaching practice and mentoring teachers where this is required,” said Mr Pole.

Read the report “Keeping children engaged and achieving in reading”.