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Thousands more students to benefit from literacy

23 March 2004

Thousands more students to benefit from literacy

Education Minister Trevor Mallard announced today a major extension of literacy programmes that will benefit thousands of students in primary and secondary schools around the country.

"Literacy skills are an essential for everyday life and work, and it is vital that all our young people can read and write. This announcement is part of our government's commitment to lift education standards so every single child has the chance to succeed to their full potential, and to access quality education," Trevor Mallard said.

The secondary project involves an additional 30 secondary schools nationwide, with more than 16,000 secondary students. Teachers receive specialised literacy professional development, aimed at helping them lift the literacy standards of students. Last year 32 schools took part.

Trevor Mallard made the announcement during a visit to a literacy programme at St Patrick's College, Wellington, one of the schools which is taking part in the project for the first time this year.

In the primary area, 133 primary/intermediate schools and their 1360 teachers will also take part in targeted professional development, aimed at lifting the literacy skills of some 35,000 students.

"Our literacy standards are on average already excellent - an OECD study published in 2002 showed that out of 32 countries, New Zealand's 15 year-olds had the third highest average score for reading literacy. But that same study showed the disparity between our highest achievers and lowest achievers is much wider than like countries, and is just unacceptable," Trevor Mallard said.

"Research has found that strengthening the capability of teachers to teach literacy is crucial to raising our students' literacy standards even higher.

"That's why the professional development programmes we are introducing are designed to give teachers the best tools and skills possible to help students in the areas they need the most assistance.

"The idea is to use research which shows what works in practice, in classrooms, and carefully measure progress and adjust the teaching accordingly," Trevor Mallard said.

"Our annual investment in literacy now totals $43 million. This government is making a concerted effort to lift literacy skills through a range of programmes. We have more professional development resources, advisers, and researchers working with schools than ever before."

The secondary schools project involves literacy advisers going into schools in the Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago regions to assist teachers as they work with students to improve their literacy skills across all areas of the curriculum. Next year, the net will widen to regions not covered so far.

"The advisers work with the schools to create a cross-curricula literacy programme that best suits their students’ needs, by analysing student achievement data from a range of assessment tools and their National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results.

"As well as literacy advisers these schools are being assisted with additional funding for staffing and teaching resources."

Trevor Mallard said feedback from the schools that took part in the programme last year showed both teachers and their students were benefiting.

The primary/intermediate schools project involves a first intake of 133 schools. More than 1360 teachers will be able to access professional development through 22 specially appointed facilitators. Principals, literacy leaders within schools and teachers take part.

In July another 67 schools, and 630 teachers will join the programme. Next year another 200 schools and 2000 teachers will take part.

"It's great to see teachers up and down the country committed to these sorts of programmes.

"There is no one silver bullet for literacy, which is why a range of programmes is in place, including specialised classroom help, teaching resources, and books.

"Later in the year we will be extending the world leading literacy and numeracy test asTTle (Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning) from years 5 - 7 to years 8-10 students. The asTTle tests help teachers and parents track the students' progress against national literacy and numeracy standards. Once problems are diagnosed, asTTle helps teachers target teaching to address weaknesses," Trevor Mallard said.

Attached is the list of the literacy programmes and interventions currently operating in New Zealand schools.

*******************

Literacy Strategy 2004

Literacy Professional Development The primary project that focuses on reading comprehension or writing in years 1-8; Through the Colleges of Education various initiatives which are flexible and designed to meet specific identified needs of schools and teachers who are working to lift students' reading and writing skills; and The secondary schools research and development project that started last year and will finish in 2005.

Literacy and Numeracy test asTTle The literacy and numeracy test asTTle (Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning) are tests that enable teachers in years 5-7 to track the progress and achievement of both individual students and groups of students against national literacy and numeracy standards, and then target teaching to address students' weaknesses. Tests will be available for years 8 – 10 by December 2004.

Reading Recovery teachers Reading Recovery teachers work with six-year-olds who have been identified as requiring individual instruction, with government funding of $20 million per year.

Resource Teachers Resource Teachers: Literacy (RT:Lits) work with years 1-8 students most at risk of not achieving, and their teachers. Since 1998/99 the number of these teachers has increased from 68 to 120.

Effective Literacy in all primary schools Literacy Development Officers encourage a review of the effectiveness of each school’s literacy programmes. They work with school managers to help them analyse students' literacy data, and then help schools access appropriate professional development.

Resources for teachers and students The Ready to Read books and School Journals now have more support for struggling readers and include accompanying notes for teachers. The Game and Other Stories and Swimming with Sharks and Other Stories, two popular series developed by Learning Media on CD-ROM, and aimed at reluctant readers in years 7 - 10, have been extended with Post Cards in Space, with special appeal for year 5 - 6 Mâori and Pasifika boys.

Materials for Home-School Partnerships Materials to support parents and teachers in developing effective home-school partnerships that focus on literacy and numeracy learning, have also been produced.

English Language training and help A professional development programme for schools with significant numbers of migrant and Pasifika students, continued from 2003, plus English for Speakers of Other Languages resources.

ENDS

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