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Reading and writing receive more help

Reading and writing receive more help

Students' literacy and numeracy skills are to get another big boost through the development of a new version of the ground-breaking asTTle (Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning), Education Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

"This multi-user version of asTTle is a significant development in our government's drive to lift education standards and the quality of education in our schools.

"We are spending $700,000 on developing a multi-user version of the asTTle tool that can be networked across the school. This version of asTTle will be in schools at the beginning of next year.

"AsTTle is already a ground-breaking tool and far superior to compulsory national testing which is incredibly stressful for young kids. AsTTle is attracting international interest. It beats anything else available because it tests what students have learned, against the rest of the class and against the rest of the country, and it then pinpoints what they should be learning next.

"The new version means that at the push of a computer button all the teachers in the school will be able to see students' results and use them to track the progress and achievement of both individual and groups of students. AsTTle then allows teachers to address any problems immediately.

"AsTTle also gives parents and caregivers a much more accurate picture of how their child is doing early on, rather than waiting for gaps in their learning to be picked up well into their secondary years when it can be too late to set them on the right track," Trevor Mallard said.

He was speaking at a demonstration of asTTle for parents at Campbell's Bay Primary School in Auckland where students are already experiencing the benefits of the tool.

Principal John McGowan said the school held an information evening recently for parents and the feedback was very positive.

"Parents were amazed at the level of detail asTTle could provide. It really helps them know exactly what they can do to help their children at home," John McGowan said.

Trevor Mallard said that through the computer networked version of asTTle, teachers will be able to share this information across the school which will be a big help in their strategic planning.

"The networked version of asTTle means teachers can more simply monitor how their students are doing within classes and schools. It means tests and data can be more easily shared, and teacher workload will be reduced.

Trevor Mallard said the asTTle literacy and numeracy assessment tool - a CD Rom - was introduced to schools in 2002.

The tests can be used any time during the school year and can be designed to suit the whole year group, the whole class, a group of children, or an individual.

"AsTTle has been a huge success with teachers. It is flexible and the reporting system means that teachers and schools can quickly see how their students are doing," Trevor Mallard said.

"New Zealand 15 year olds are third in the OECD in literacy according to the PISA 2000 study, which is something to be proud of, but this study and other research such as the PIRLS 2001 study show we do have unacceptable disparities between the best achievers and worst achievers.

"AsTTle and a wide range of other literacy initiatives are targeting the students who do need the most help, because as a government we are determined to lift the education standards for ALL our students," Trevor Mallard said.

Attached is the list of literacy initiatives, funded at $42 million a year. The PISA 2000 study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2001 can be found at www.minedu.govt.nz

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 Assistants 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.

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