Officials have high hopes for literacy intervention

| 11/08/2011

(CNS): A summer literacy programme that targets students before reading problems begin has been lauded as a great success and will be used during the regular school year to support students at risk of literacy failure, officials have said. The education minister believes the effect of providing such early support for students is immeasurable and the programme is a strategic approach that will pay dividends well into the future. “Research demonstrates that catching readers before they fail offers more success than remediating them afterwards,” said Rolston Anglin.

“A recent UK study shows that their illiteracy costs exceed £1.4 billion. Though the expense may be lower in Cayman, it is still vital to provide quality early intervention – particularly since this approach can provide substantial savings,” the minister added.

During the recent summer programme, teachers used the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention kit, a supplementary tool designed to help educators provide powerful, daily small-group instruction for children in younger grades. The tool has three systems with lessons progressing from beginner reading in kindergarten to beginner reading in Year 2.

Officials said that lessons include a combination of reading, writing, phonics and word study, with specific work on sounds, letters and words, in activities designed to help children notice the details of written language. It also emphasises comprehension strategies and vocabulary expansion, while providing opportunities for students to write about reading so they can learn a variety of writing strategies.

Maggie Hurley, a teacher at John A Cumber in West Bay, said she had seen students become more fluent and confident in their reading abilities when using the programme. “This is happening over a short period of time. It’s a clear and concise programme which builds on students’ prior knowledge. Once teachers and students are consistent in their implementation, success will follow. It’s easy to use and needs very little preparation as all lessons are clearly laid out. You just open the book and go,” she explained.

The education department said parents have also commented on the programme noting that their children are showing progress.

Playing a key role in the programme’s success is PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The company donated two of the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention kits used during the summer programme.

“Being pro-active and trying to enhance the learning experience before reading becomes an issue, is an investment we are happy to make,” PwC Partner Peter Small commented. “We believe that the literacy kits will add value to children’s learning experiences, and help reduce the struggles that several of them currently face.”

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