By: Westley Field, National Professional Learning Manager, Renaissance AU
Recently the ABC did a story on a new ‘Evidence institute’ being set up here in Australia. In summary the report stated that if you have a child at school, you probably assume they’re learning something every day — but some experts believe Australian schools have no way of measuring whether that’s actually the case.
Evidence for Learning is a research body that aims to measure the effectiveness of interventions around literacy and numeracy. Matthew Deeble, the Director of Evidence Learning stated that ‘evidence is at the heart of all great professions’. He went onto say that “we have lots of experience of schools getting great outcomes and pockets of schools that are very clear on the reasons why they are achieving those outcomes but what we don’t have is a really effective system for moving that knowledge around and between schools or for systems to learn better about the approaches that are more effective.”
This report outlined that after a decade of fundamental change with education systems integrating components of 21st century learning we, in Australia, have no reliable data on the effectiveness of those components or on associated teaching methods.
The model for the evidence institute, that has been adopted by the Australian Government, is based on the work out of the UK. Here the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) have spent the past 7 years conducting experiments on teaching interventions. They took the 10 most popular interventions used in schools and look at their effectiveness. They found that about 1 in 5 of the interventions actually do make a difference and are worth investing in. They also found that 3 in 5 don’t make much difference at all. The final 1 in 5 were described as ‘detrimental to learning’.
Sir Kevan Collins, CEO of EEF has recently worked with the Australian government with the Gonski review panel and has identified that “there is a need for systems that help narrow the gap between those that have access to good education and those that don’t”. Kevin goes on to say that “If you are not using evidence you must be using prejudice.”
The great news for Renaissance Accelerated Reader users is that the EEF have found, via extensive independent research, that the Accelerated Reader program is not only an effective intervention program worth investing in but that is also a program that supplies the data needed for measuring student growth.
About the EEF
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is an independent grant-making charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement, ensuring that children from all backgrounds can fulfil their potential and make the most of their talents. The EEF’s role is to identify, develop, support and evaluate projects to raise the achievement of disadvantaged children in the country’s most challenging schools. It has a particular focus on innovation and on scaling-up projects which are cost effective and replicable. Among its guiding principles is that “proving what works is at the heart of everything we do”. Its aim is to make substantial grants to projects which can be robustly evaluated and to organisations that it can effectively support.
Further details of the report can be found on the Education Endowment Foundation website.
Listen to the ABC report now: