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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Maintaining momentum

Your school’s literacy focus can be described as ‘sustainable’ so long as there is continued improvement in valued student outcomes. It is important to start creating the conditions for sustainability from the beginning of your literacy intervention.

Three factors seem particularly important in creating sustainability

1. A culture of student-focused inquiry

Indicators of a culture of student-focused inquiry

Indicators of a culture of student-focused inquiry include:

  • collecting and analysing student literacy achievement data (for example, e-asTTle, PAT) at the beginning and end of each year
  • teachers having access to assessment information and support to interpret it
  • student learning goals established on basis of data and other evidence
  • teacher learning goals established on basis of identified student needs and evidence about teaching
  • regular timetabled inquiry meetings to discuss evidence about teaching and learning
  • monitoring the impact of changed teaching practices on student achievement during, and at the end of, each year
  • evidence that teaching practices were adjusted in response to monitoring.

Embedding ongoing literacy inquiry

Ongoing literacy inquiry can be formally embedded by specifically requiring it to be a feature of:

  • annual and strategic plans
  • staff and department meeting times
  • Principal and Head of Department reports to the Board of Trustees
  • appraisal
  • student reports
  • the assessment calendar.

2. Managed inter-dependence (for example, professional learning communities)

Professional learning communities

Some characteristics of professional learning communities able to sustain ongoing improvements are that:

  • meetings are held regularly at different levels of the school (for example, focus groups, whole staff) to analyse and critically discuss evidence about learning and teaching
  • where appropriate, external expertise is enlisted to provide new knowledge and alternative viewpoints
  • artefacts (for example, student data and voice, video, observation templates) are used to maintain focus on improving student learning
  • participants work collaboratively to test interpretations of data, develop shared meaning, build collective responsibility and collective efficacy.

3. Leadership

Leaders maintaining momentum

Some characteristics of leadership that sustains ongoing improvements are:

  • designated roles for literacy leadership, for example, a Literacy Leader and a member of senior management with literacy in their portfolio
  • ongoing communication of literacy-related goals and expectations of teachers
  • processes to induct new teachers into school-wide literacy practices (including inquiry processes and professional learning communities)
  • teachers are regularly observed and receive feedback about literacy teaching practices
  • leaders who ensure that literacy practices are consistent with other instructional programmes in a school
  • leaders who avoid taking on board too many additional programmes/initiatives.

Further reading about sustainability

Lai, M. K., McNaughton, S., Amituanai-Toloa, M., Turner, R., & Hsiao, S. (2009). Sustained acceleration of achievement in reading comprehension: The New Zealand experience. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(1), 30-56.

Lai, M. K., McNaughton, S., Hsiao, S. (2010). Sustaining improvements in student achievement: Myth or reality? set: Research Information for Teachers, 1, 10-17.

Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher professional learning and development: Best evidence synthesis iteration (BES) Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.

Download the  Teacher Professional Learning and Development Best Evidence Synthesis.

Read more about professional learning communities:

Ka Hikitia - Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008 – 2012

Published on: 08 Jan 2018