Resource Teachers: Literacy Annual Report 2005

Publication Details

This report presents information on students who, during 2005, were on the roll of a Resource Teacher: Literacy (RT:Lit) to receive literacy support.

Author(s): Ngaire Bennie & Lisa Ng, Research, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: January 2008

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Executive Summary

RT:Lits are a specialist group of registered teachers who support students in years 1 to 8 who are experiencing literacy difficulties. This has, over the years, more commonly involved RT:Lits working directly with an individual student, although increasingly RT:Lits' are focussing on meeting these students' needs through providing support to their teachers. While it is acknowledged that RT:Lits will carry out a range of functions, the primary purpose of the current report is to identify students RT:Lits support, the nature of the support provided and to investigate whether there are shifts in student achievement as a result of the RT:Lits' interventions.

For those students on the RT:Lit roll, support can be provided through indirect in-class support to the teacher or more directly through individual or small-group tuition with the student. In 2005, 106 RT:Lits provided indirect in-class support to 1,660 students on their rolls, through formally supporting the classroom teacher providing them advice and modelling. In addition they worked directly with a slightly larger number of students (1,829), through providing regular tutoring either on an individual basis or as part of a small group.

For students who received indirect in-class support, the vast majority were assisted in reading literacy, the majority of whom were supported in reading literacy alone. Nearly a third of students were supported in written literacy, usually alongside reading and/or oral language assistance. Two out of every three students were boys. Over half of the students were New Zealand European/Pākehā, with nearly a third being Māori and fewer than one in ten being Pasifika. The majority of students were in their middle years of primary schooling, being between seven to ten years of age. While half of the students had completed their indirect support by the end of 2005 and nearly a quarter would require continuing support the following year, there were some differences between students. Boys were more likely than girls to require continuing indirect in-class support, as did Pasifika students when compared with New Zealand European/Pākehā or Māori students. This may suggest that boys and Pasifika students are staying on the RT:Lit roll for a longer period of time.

The majority of students directly supported were provided with one-on-one tuition. Approximately a quarter received tuition within a small group (of students similarly requiring support), while a small proportion received both forms of tuition at various stages. For students who were directly assisted by the RT:Lit either on an individual basis or as part of a small group, the patterns of gender, age, and ethnicities were similar to students who received indirect in-class support (although the actual percentage of boys directly supported is greater than the percentage of boys indirectly assisted). However, there were a number of key differences, not only between those indirectly supported and those directly supported, but also between the individually tutored and small-group tutored students of the directly supported group. Some of these differences may be a result of RT:Lits responding to the level of students needs and thus providing the support considered most appropriate, or may be a result of the different opportunities that can be provided through the different forms of support. For example, those supported indirectly through the classroom teacher were more likely than those tutored directly within a small group, who were in turn much more likely than those tutored individually, to have received support in only one area of literacy. This may be because, for example, small-group work lends itself more to there being just one focus, while other areas of literacy can more easily be introduced and addressed while working with a student on an individual basis. However, other outcomes point to the level of literacy need also being taken into account, for example, compared with students supported in small groups, those individually assisted were more likely to have received an incomplete programme from the RT:Lit, particularly as a result of being referred on for specialist assistance.  

By the end of 2005, most students had completed their regular tutoring programme with the RT:Lit, although some would continue on a monitoring programme with the classroom teacher at the beginning of 2006. One in five would require further regular tutoring with the RT:Lit, and one in seven did not complete their programme because they were referred for further specialist assistance, they had moved out of the area serviced by the RT:Lit, or for some other reason. Some differences in these outcomes were evident for different students, for example according to ethnicity, whether English was the first language, and whether or not the student had received literacy support prior to support from the RT:Lit.

Progress and outcomes from the RT:Lit programme were recorded for students supported in reading literacy. For median gains per session some differences were evident between students, with higher median gains per session for students supported as part of a small group and for girls (slightly higher), and lower median gains for Pasifika students. For students supported in reading literacy who had completed their regular tutoring with the RT:Lit the general shift in reading levels from admission to completion was similar to previous years, with a mode of five to five-and-a-half years at entry and seven-and-a-half to eight years at exit.

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