Resource Teachers: Literacy Annual Report 2004

Publication Details

Resource Teachers: Literacy (RT:Lits) are a specialist group of registered teachers who work with students in years 1 to 8 who are experiencing literacy difficulties. RT:Lits also provide support (for example, advice, modeling and demonstration) to teachers, parents and teacher aides connected with these students. The following report summarises the data for 2004.

Author(s): Chris Holland

Date Published: July 2006

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Executive Summary

This is the fourth annual report that investigates the focus and student outcomes of the Resource Teachers: Literacy (RT:Lit) programme. When the RT:Lit programme was introduced in 2001, one of its goals was to re-focus the activities of literacy teachers away from their traditional role of providing direct tuition to students, to a more advisory position designed to support students' classroom teachers and other staff . At the time, it was expected that this change in priority would result in fewer individual students being assisted, with a related increase in the number of teachers, specialist staff and parents being provided with advice directed at improving students' literacy skills.

It was found that while the number of individual students assisted directly by RT:Lits decreased between 2001 and 2003, with a concomitant increase in the number of teachers and other staff supported, this reversed quite substantially in 2004. Compared to 2003, there was a twenty-five percent reduction in the number of classroom teachers, paraprofessionals and parents assisted, and a twenty-two percent increase in the number of students directly tutored by RT:Lits, either as individuals or in small groups.

Although there was a moderate increase in the average time RT:Lits spent with teachers, specialist staff and others in 2004, there was also an increase in their time spent with students. Close to half of the RT:Lits' average weekly workload in 2004 was dedicated to assisting students directly, compared to just over one-third of their time in 2003. There was also an increase in the amount of time spent on ancillary activities, such as travel, preparation and administration. In 2004, more than one-quarter of their time was spent on such activities; in 2003, these duties comprised only one-fifth of their time. With most RT:Lits now having completed their training, there was a substantial reduction in the time RT:Lits spent on professional development. In 2003, nearly one-quarter of the average weekly workloads were spent on these development activities; in 2004 this had reduced to one-sixteenth. This reduction has allowed for an increase in time for other activities.

While these findings may represent one-off variances from the desired trend, the short time in which the programme has operated overall, means it is not possible to confirm whether this is the case.

One of the concerns noted in the 2003 report was the relatively large percentage of students (17%) for whom there was no information on any prior literacy assistance they may have received, generally because it was unknown to the RT: Lit but also because it was not provided by the RT: Lit. For 2004, at eighteen percent, little overall change is reported, however this was equally due to the information being unknown to the RT: Lit as to not being provided.

For those receiving individual tuition , the greatest age-based reading gains were made between the ages of seven to eleven. While it may be less of a concern that the five and six year olds had the lowest gains per session, which are likely to relate to normal differences in patterns of progress, lower gains in reading for those twelve and over may well be caused by entrenched literacy difficulties. This is an area that could well benefit from further investigation to determine the most effective strategies for intervention. Gains were also affected by school decile rating and the number of schools in the cluster (students in higher decile schools and larger clusters had, on the whole, higher median gains per session). With regard to transience, students who had attended three or more schools during the year were more likely to have received an incomplete programme compared to their counterparts who had not moved schools or had moved only once. In terms of those from and ESOL background, however, it could be seen that they were less likely than their non-ESOL counterparts to have at the end of 2004 been fully discharged from their RT: Lit programme or to be on a monitoring regime for the start of 2005, and were more likely to have received an incomplete programme or to have been assessed as requiring further individual tuition from the RT:Lit in 2005.

For students assisted in small groups , the age of entry was lower for 2004 than for 2003 and the ratio of successful to less successful students was higher. This was caused by a large positive shift in gains among European/Pākehā students. Compared to students taught individually, small group students were more likely to receive one type of literacy assistance only. For example, students in small groups were three times more likely to receive reading assistance only, without written or oral assistance than was the case with students seen on an individual basis.

In this and in previous reports, reading has played a greater part than written and spoken language skills in the assessment of student literacy levels, in the development and monitoring of student literacy, and in the measurement of gains. This pattern can be described as part of an historical focus on reading literacy that has led to the development of standardised means for assessing and measuring gains in reading in a way that has not been done for written and oral literacy. In terms of data collection, questions have mainly concerned students' age-based reading levels and gains. Because of this, an analysis of students' written or oral com petencies is not possible.

Research and theory in literacy developed over the last two decades points to the importance of giving the learner a voice through building com petence in writing and speaking as much as reading. The Ministry of Education is concerned to learn how RT:Lits undertake assessment, support, and measurement of outcomes for writing and speaking, and to develop consistent methodologies in the future to address this bias.

In the meantime, readers of this report should take account of this emphasis on reading literacy when considering the findings.

Footnotes

  1. RT: Lit Annual Reports: 2002, p.29; 2003, p.28.
  2. Refer, Ministry of Education (2003) Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1 to 4, and Ministry of Education (2006) Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5 to 8.

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