When it comes to improving student reading outcomes, Caroline Chisholm Catholic College knows what works.
Launched in 2016 by teacher librarians Barbara Roach and Gabrielle Douglas, the College’s reading program has been a resounding success, and this is reflected in the latest NAPLAN results released last week.
The state average in reading showed a growth (effect size) of 0.53 between Years 7 and 9, while the College’s growth between those years was double at 1.06.
Since 2013 the College has had its biggest consistent growth. In 2016 the College achieved a median study score of 30 for the first time, and in 2017 solidified this with another excellent 30+ study score.
The program aims to encourage students to take every opportunity to read, monitors and challenges students to read a variety of texts appropriate to their reading level, encourages analysis of texts and explicitly teaches skills which enhance active reading.
In the same year that the program started, the College teamed up with the University of Melbourne’s Network of Schools (UMNOS) which offered a chance to work with world-class, leading researchers in education on a project that was important to the school.
Sarah Moss-Holland, the College’s collaborative learning leader, said that after analyzing the students’ NAPLAN data for 2016, it became apparent that reading and writing were areas that needed more explicit focus at the College.
“Our results in this area showed that we had a lot of students that were coasting – that is, they were not growing their reading and writing skills, they were simply getting by on their abilities,” Moss-Holland said.
The association with the University of Melbourne provides expert knowledge and teaching resources that have been used to develop and refine the reading program from the initial idea.
Roach said that the College’s Year 7 students come to the library once a week and Year 8 and 9 students once a fortnight as part of the English curriculum.
“A key part of our program is the ‘reading conferences’ where students discuss what they are reading. Students sit down and conference with their teachers to discuss their reading and set clear goals,” she said.
“The outstanding outcomes achieved in NAPLAN Reading by our students is a testament to the commitment the College has put into these programs and partnerships.”
Moss-Holland said that since the College’s teacher librarians began connecting readers with the appropriate texts for their reading level, the number of students finishing books had increased.
“This is the best outcome we could have asked for,” she said.