This is a presentation of the Shine Literacy Project – a project that set out to prove that a change in early literacy instruction can transform reading and writing achievement. Results were remarkable and showed that success does not need to be determined by what children know when they start school, or by their socioeconomic status or ethnicity. Schools have the power to ensure success.

Why do so many students fail to learn to read and write successfully?
The answer lies with instruction – the nature of instruction.

The Shine Literacy Project was founded on the belief that all children can learn to read and write – that regardless of what early literacy skills children have as they start school it is possible to ensure their success. Thirty-two New Zealand schools with students from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds took part in a two-year research project that proved that raising achievement is possible for students across the board. The majority of these schools continued to work together for a further three years, providing evidence of the continued success of a simple, yet significant change in instruction. Teacher knowledge has increased and student achievement has been raised. Year 2 students from schools in the lowest socioeconomic areas achieved results on a par with students from the highest socioeconomic areas. Assessment data drove instruction (analysed by the beagle ® software application) and the impact on achievement was measured using John Hattie’s Effect Size Shift calculation.

What we found is that reading and writing success does not need to be linked to children’s school entry knowledge, socioeconomic status or ethnicity. The approach used ensures all critical aspects for literacy success are taught in 10-minute daily lessons. This leveled the playing field for students of all ethnicities in the Trial schools. More-of-the same instruction in the Comparison schools maintained the inequitable results for children from low socioeconomic areas and for Maori and Pasifika students – the students who are typically over-represented in the ‘underachieving tail’ of literacy achievement in New Zealand.

This presentation will explain the background to this project, describe the instructional method used, present the results and the strategies this group of dedicated professionals have developed to support other schools to use the same approach.

AUTHOR: Joy Allcock

Joy Allcock (M.Ed). Independent Literacy consultant, facilitator of teacher professional development throughout New Zealand and internationally. Presenter at NZ and international literacy conferences (IRA, ASCD/ACEL). Author of a range of literacy resources for teachers and students ( Leader of Shine Literacy Research Project (designed and evaluated by Massey University –