Accelerating Literacy

It is always worrying when children fall behind in Literacy because it affects more than just their progress in school - it impacts on their confidence and self-esteem too.

So when a colleague at another school introduced me to IDL, an online literacy catch-up tool from Ascentis back in October 2013, I was keen to try it out.  Initially, we used it with pupils in years 5 and 6; the results were so good that this term we extended the intervention to include years 3 and 4.

Although designed for pupils with dyslexic difficulties, the programme is beneficial for any child whose reading or spelling age is below their chronological age. Very simply it gives them lots and lots of practice in typing and reading high-frequency or rhyming words, and crucially, allows children to see and measure their own progress, which they find very satisfying.

We start off by administering a reading and spelling assessment, which produces a reading and spelling age for each child.  Teachers enter this data into the programme, which then builds a package of lessons tailored to the individual, selected from a database of 1,000. 80 per cent of each module revises familiar material, while the remaining 20 per cent introduces new words. Once a child has spelled a word correctly three times, it automatically drops down to form part of their revision list.  Short story sequences are interspersed with spelling and grammar rules and exercises, and there are comprehension questions to ensure pupils are also reading for meaning.

Children work through the modules at their own pace and the aim is for them to be using the programme for between two and three hours a week. They do this in school time, but some pupils carry on working at home as well, allowing teachers to see exactly which modules they are completing each week.

Pupils who have been using the programme for over a year, have all made more than a full year's progress. One child has progressed by 17 months in spelling and another has made 20 months progress in reading.  While these two scores are exceptional — these children were well behind their peers — they demonstrate the difference IDL is making, enabling pupils to catch up with their chronological age in reading and spelling and even go beyond it.

All the children involved come into school 15 minutes early, sit themselves down with a laptop and work on it before and during registration.  Because it is so important for pupils to catch up with their peer group, we also have timetabled sessions during the week. 

Once we've set pupils up with a password and login, the programme picks up where they left off the day before, and they begin to work without needing much close supervision.  Most children love doing it, particularly since it is computer- based. One or two of the younger pupils benefit from an adult sitting beside them to help them keep focused. To sustain their motivation, the system produces a certificate of achievement every time they complete a module, which they can print out and take home.

Every term, we re-assess everyone using the tests provided. The TAs take pupils through a word-reading test individually, while the spelling tests are done in small groups. It doesn't take me long to enter the data and produce an updated set of modules for pupils to work on. In fact, Ascentis has recently updated the software, making it even easier to track progress: now I can print out spreadsheets with all the data.

IDL is an excellent literacy catch- up tool for children who struggle with reading and spelling. While we use a variety of tools, I like this one because it is so easy to personalise for each child and they can work on it independently, including at home. 

Sarah Watson is the Senco at Newton Bluecoat CE Primary School, Preston

Published in Special Children Magazine

Performance of IDL within School settings - 2012 - 2014

Year

No of schools selected

No of pupils on program

No of hours spent on program

Average increase in reading measured

in months

Average increase in spelling in months

2012

40

288

26

9

9

2013

33

425

26

10

10

2014

47

487

26

10

10

Totals

120

1200

26

10

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis - IDL at the Preston Dyslexia centre

Year

No of learners

Age 8-10

No of learners

Age 11-13

No of learners

Age 14-17

No of learners

Age 18+

Total

2009

18

12

3

5

38

2010

40

21

7

8

76

2011

54

25

14

13

106

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increase in reading and spelling in months

2009

Age 8-10

Age 11-13

Age 14-17

Age 18+

Average

Increase

Increase

reading

8

9

12

15

11

Increase

spelling

9

10

12

18

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increase in reading and spelling in months

2010

Age 8-10

Age 11-13

Age 14-17

Age 18+

Average

Increase

Increase

reading

9

9

13

18

12

Increase

spelling

10

10

14

21

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increase in reading and spelling in months

2011

Age 8-10

Age 11-13

Age 14-17

Age 18+

Average

Increase

Increase

reading

9

9

13

19

13

Increase

spelling

11

10

14

22

14


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CPD Certified Dyscalculia Training

Preston

 | 9:00am - 12:00pm15.01.2019

Training for SENCOs, Head teachers and Deputy Head teachers in the field of Dyscalculia delivered by Judy Hornigold BSc, PGCSpE, AMBDA. Judy is an independent education consultant specialising in...

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CPD Certified Dyscalculia Training

Preston

 | 1:00pm - 4:00pm15.01.2019

Training for SENCOs, Head teachers and Deputy Head teachers in the field of Dyscalculia delivered by Judy Hornigold BSc, PGCSpE, AMBDA. Judy is an independent education consultant specialising in...

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CPD Certified Dyscalculia Training

Newcastle

 | 9:00am - 12:00pm22.01.2019

Training for SENCOs, Head teachers and Deputy Head teachers in the field of Dyscalculia delivered by Judy Hornigold BSc, PGCSpE, AMBDA. Judy is an independent education consultant specialising in...

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