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Socio-economically disadvantaged students and the development of literacies in school: A Longitudinal Study. This project took place between 1998 and April 2001 and was jointly funded by the Australian Research Council and the Disadvantaged

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Socio-economically disadvantaged students and the development of literacies in school:A Longitudinal Study

This project took place between 1998 and April 2001 and was jointly

funded by the Australian Research Council and the Disadvantaged

Schools Component of the Commonwealth Literacy Program in the

Department of Education, Training and Employment.

The study focused on the literacy learning of 21 children in three

department schools from Year 3 to Year 5.

socio economically disadvantaged students and the development of literacies in school
“Socio-economically disadvantaged students and the development of literacies in school”

The study and final report was completed by a team of UniSA

researchers - Barbara Comber, Lynne Badger, Jenny Barnett and

Helen Nixon, working with Jane Pitt, a teacher at Renmark Primary

School.

The report outlines a range of important findings for learners and

educators in the Primary Years Band.

The published report comprises a one volume overview of key issues

and two volumes of case studies.

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“Socio-economically disadvantaged students and the development of literacies in the middle primaryyears.”

The purpose of this presentation is to provide a selection of the key findings and implications of the research. While this information may have particular resonance for educators working with students from low socio - economic backgrounds, it is highly relevant to all teachers in the Primary Years Band.

Further reading is available:-

  • Primary Years Paper - “Building on Success”
  • Chapter 6 of the Research Report “Findings and implications” (PDF)
  • Literacy after the early years : A longitudinal study (PDF)

Barbara Comber, Lynne Badger, Jenny Barnett, Helen Nixon and Jane Pitt ( This article first appeared in the Australian Journal of Literacy , June 2002 Volume 25 No.2 )

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The Primary Years:-

“ a crucial period where children are establishing their personal, social and academic identities, where they are thinking about who they are and who they can be.”

“ Every where there are children growing up in a differently literate world than that which we inhabited as children and as adults: where different proficiencies count (searching the Internet and making a web page) : and where the possibilities for representing meaning are vast and ever-expanding.”

Comber, Badger, Barnett, Nixon and Pitt

Literacy after the Early Years: a longitudinal study

Australian Journal of Language and Literacy October 2001

socio economically disadvantaged children what did they bring to school
Socio-economically disadvantaged children - what did theybring to school?

Findings

Students demonstrate a vast range of literate practices,

  • some students are just learning to make meaning
  • others are expert in complex and sophisticated literacies.
socio economically disadvantaged children what did they bring to school7
Socio-economically disadvantaged children - what did theybring to school?

Findings

Some students have linguistic, cultural and literate capital or

resources which match those valued by the school, some do not.

eg. Schools tend to value

  • drama and public speaking skills
  • certain forms of computer expertise
  • skills in record keeping

Schools tend to undervalue

  • knowledge about pop culture
  • bilingualism
  • other forms of computer expertise
socio economically disadvantaged children what does school expect of them
Socio-economically disadvantaged children - what does school expect of them?

Findings

Students’ social identities and relationships impinge and impact on

their school work and literate practices

  • some boys found it difficult to maintain their desired male identity and be a good student
  • some girls felt the pressure of maintaining fragile relationships and meeting the demands of schooling
socio economically disadvantaged children what does school expect of them9
Socio-economically disadvantaged children - what does school expect of them?

Findings

A prominent feature of primary years is that teaching and learning is

planned and managed over longer periods of time - eg. novels are

serialised, work contracts extend over time

  • pressures on students are compounded when they miss significant teaching and learning time and are required to manage demanding life circumstances
  • as teaching and learning becomes more complex, children in the early stages of becoming bilingual may have increasing difficulty due to insufficient facility in the English language or lack of cultural experience assumed in the curriculum
socio economically disadvantaged children what does school expect of them10
Socio-economically disadvantaged children - what does school expect of them?

Implications

Layers of information and multiple tasks delivered simultaneously

mean priorities are often unclear for some students

  • initial instructions delivered orally need multiple repetitions and clarification of the elements of the task
  • teachers need to examine the relationships and dependence which exists between content/academic knowledge, student work practices and literate competencies
  • some students need ongoing intensive support and extra tuition to acquire literate practices
  • teachers avoid assumptions that new learning can be acquired through independent reading
the literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years what did it look like
The literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years - What did it look like?

Findings

Primary years literacies feature practices and ways of organising

curriculum which are different from the early literacy years.

eg.

  • resource based learning, spelling and theme contracts, production of specific genres
  • students are required to maintain a sense of the task, plot and purpose over extended time
  • personal organisational skills are required
the literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years what did it look like12
The literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years - What did it look like?

Findings

Primary years tasks are multi- layered, multi dimensional and

conducted over extended periods of time

  • literacy tasks are often made up of parts which are contingent upon and linked to others
  • there are demands for length, speed and time management
the literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years what did it look like13
The literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years - What did it look like?

Findings

The academic curriculum for middle primary school onwards

require that students read and write well and are able to learn new

concepts and information through their engagement with texts

  • learning of new concepts and information occurs through textual practices
  • finding, locating, sorting information and presentation in a variety of media is required
  • assumptions are made that the students can replicate texts, use and transform information for their own purposes
the literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years what did it look like14
The literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years - What did it look like?

Findings

It is assumed that students’ work in the primary years will include

communicative depth, quality, detail and interest

  • their work is required to be interesting, accurate and detailed, with an audience in mind
  • students display their knowledge, thoughts and understanding mainly through the construction of written texts
  • students are expected to engage with and produce complex and extended texts
the literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years what did it look like15
The literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years - What did it look like?

Findings

Literacy is a tool for learning, an object of learning and a social

practice needed for membership of the school community

Students are expected to acquire self- reflective practices as a key

move in becoming independent

  • they are expected to complete a task and have meta-awareness of their strategies for learning and problem solving
  • teachers see literacy as a tool for learning, an object of learning and a social practice needed for membership of the school community
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The literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years - What did the case study children make of that?

Findings

Primary years students assemble different literate repertoires

  • students acquire different literate practices, have different prior experience and achieve different levels of competence

Students acquire school literacies via different patterns of development

  • some students made a slow start and then rapid progress,
  • belief in themselves was identified as a significant factor in a student’s success
  • some students are able to accomplish aspects of learning tasks without understanding the fundamental purpose of the task
the literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years
The literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years.

Implications

Primary schooling requires students to produce longer and more

complex pieces of work in more independent contexts.

It is vital that teachers support students to address these demands by:-

  • explicitly teaching students these new literate practices
  • clearly articulating what is to be learnt and what has been learnt

As curriculum becomes more complex and multi dimensional and

learning is integrated across the curriculum, explicit instructions,

repetition and rehearsal is needed.

the literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years18
The literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years.

Implications

Primary teachers have a crucial role in inducting students into new

academic content, work practices and literacies

  • effective early literacy learning is crucial however it should not stop after the first three years of schooling
  • teacher’s knowledge of literacy is critical to deal with the range of competencies and practices
the literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years19
The literacy curriculum on offer in the middle primary years.

Implications

Professional development which targets the specific needs of primary

years

Models of literacy development need to take into account the

practices of primary years students in and out of school

literacy teaching and learning in schools what is needed to make it work
Literacy teaching and learning in schools - what is needed to make it work?

Findings

  • Skilled and committed teachers make a difference
  • Differential resources - ongoing supplementary support is needed in some schools to improve educational opportunities
  • One to one instruction and support provided by ESL teachers or SSOs, benefit many students
  • One to one or small group sessions provide targeted teaching and immediate feedback for students
literacy teaching and learning in schools what is needed to make it work21
Literacy teaching and learning in schools - what is needed to make it work?

Findings

  • Assessment informs the classroom program and identifies the particular needs of students
  • Diagnostic assessment monitors and provides feedback to the students and informs whole school programs
  • Reporting provides opportunities to indicate English, communication and literacy skills across the curriculum
literacy teaching and learning in schools what is needed to make it work22
Literacy teaching and learning in schools - what is needed to make it work?

Implications

It is important that teachers :-

  • Monitor students’ understanding of academic content and literate practices with a view to adapting and modifying practices
  • Clearly define and separate the level of understanding from the literacy level
  • Use reporting practices that clearly outline a student’s development indicating the links between academic achievement and literacy across the curriculum
literacy teaching and learning in schools what is needed to make it work23
Literacy teaching and learning in schools - what is needed to make it work?

Students are growing up in a world where different proficiencies count and meaning can be represented in a variety of ways, our teaching, learning and assessing programs should reflect this.

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