INDEPENDENT NEWS

Investing in Reading Recovery

Published: Sun 9 Sep 2012 02:37 PM
Investing in Reading Recovery
The Issue
• One in 12 New Zealand 9 year-olds don’t meet the lowest international benchmark for reading (as set by PIRLS).
• This is worse than the international average of 1 in 17, with much worse rates for Māori and Pasifika students from poor schools, where 1 in 5 children don’t meet the benchmark. These low reading rates contribute to our long tail of underachievement.
Current Situation
• The international ‘gold standard’ for helping children who fall behind in reading is Reading Recovery, developed right here in New Zealand by Marie Clay in the 1970s.
• Yet Reading Recovery is not necessarily available to some of those who would most benefit from it in New Zealand.
• It is actually offered in fewer poor schools than wealthier schools. Only 59% of low-decile schools have Reading Recovery compared with 73% of high-decile schools.
• Māori students and Pasifika students were less likely to have Reading Recovery available in their school.
• This is primarily a funding issue. The Ministry of Education only pays for half of the cost of Reading Recovery. Schools need to find the other half from their own budgets.
• Poorer schools find it difficult to provide enough Reading Recovery places to meet student need, resulting in waiting lists or students missing out altogether.
• Some schools therefore opt for other interventions, which cost less per student. But most principals in schools not offering Reading Recovery would do so if they could.
• More needs to be done if we are to make this a genuine option for every school.
Labour’s Proposal
• Labour intends to remove the barriers preventing schools – including many of those who need it the most – from offering Reading Recovery.
• We will work with schools to determine a fair proportion of direct Ministry funding so all schools will be able to afford to offer Reading Recovery to all students who need it.
• We want to lift the proportion of 6-year olds receiving Reading Recovery from 14% at present to at least 20% (the proportion that the programme has historically targeted and the estimated need).
• This would suggest an additional 5,000 children a year benefiting from Reading Recovery each year, over and above the 11,000 currently receiving it.
• We will also develop a parallel ‘maths recovery’ intervention, so that children struggling with basic numeracy skills can receive one-on-one assistance by age 7 or 8.
The Benefits
• 80% of the students who left Reading Recovery during 2010 had reached the reading level of their classroom peers.
• A New Zealand Council for Educational Research evaluation found that Reading Recovery was effective for different students and in a range of contexts, with those who started off furthest behind making the greatest gains.
Cost
• Labour’s proposal would lift the total cost of Reading Recovery to the education system from about $40 million to an estimated $60 million. It is likely that this additional $20 million would be met through direct government funding.
• In addition, we will investigate whether some of the $20 million currently shared amongst schools should be funded directly by government.
Authorised by David Shearer, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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