Prue Anderson

Principal Research Fellow - Australian Council for Educational Research

Prue Anderson

Principal Research Fellow - Australian Council for Educational Research

Biography

Early grades’ literacy specialist:
• 20 years leading system-level literacy assessment development and data interpretation in the Philippines, Laos, Brunei, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Lesotho and Australia including workshops and presentations.
• Lead developer ACER Reading Progression
• PIRLS reading expert
• K-3 teacher and primary lecturer
• Currently lead curriculum and assessment advisor for Pathways BARMM reform project

Expecting the impossible: the disastrous impact of unrealistic goals

Why is it that some of the poorest, most marginalised and disadvantaged children in the world are expected to perform astonishing linguistic feats in the early years of school? This paper discusses why these expectations, which effectively deny access to literacy for many children, are largely unquestioned.

Why is it that some of the poorest, most marginalised and disadvantaged children in the world are expected to perform astonishing linguistic feats in the early years of school?
This paper examines how official mother tongue and multilingual policies in the Philippines unintentionally create largely insurmountable barriers to education for many children in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanoa (BARMM). Children, who may have little or no facility in the mother tongue initially used for school instruction, are expected to become literate within one year, and to then also learn and become literate in Filipino and English, neither of which may be spoken at home, by the end of Grade 3. Muslim students may also learn Arabic.
The key question raised is how did such serious misconceptions about the time, effort and input required to develop proficient early language and literacy skills become accepted and why are they largely unquestioned? Research evidence is misinterpreted. Flawed assumptions are made that effective practices in affluent Western contexts can be transferred to contexts that have almost nothing in common. The literacy curriculum, modelled on Western curricula, assumes children start school with an extensive repertoire of language and literacy skills that are rarely part of BARMM oral language cultures.
Faulty beliefs prevent effective progress as new ideas are bolted onto fundamental misconceptions, perpetuating flawed practices. Substantive improvements to policies, curricula and classroom practices will not occur until widespread misconceptions about early language and literacy development are challenged and refuted. This paper raises some key issues in the hope that others will join the debate and effective strategies will emerge to support realistic learning goals and effective teaching practices for early literacy learning in linguistically and culturally diverse contexts like the BARMM.

What do we mean by a good reader? How can we make comparisons?

This paper outlines what a learning progression in reading looks like and its potential use to achieve a common understanding of levels of reading proficiency across countries and contexts. The progression also provides an excellent model for reading assessments by defining the scope of skills that should be considered at different points.

What do we mean by a good reader? How can we make comparisons?
A reading learning progression describes development from a non-reader, through to a highly proficient reader. The Australian Council for Educational Research has developed a highly refined reading progression based on empirical data and expert input. The progression is not based on theories of reading. It is based on extensive evidence about the kinds of reading skills students typically find harder, or easier, to demonstrate as they learn to read and become highly proficient. The focus is on the deep conceptual skills that underpin growth in skilled reading comprehension. A nutshell summary provides a useful overview, with more detailed descriptions of each level, including text complexity and vocabulary, and strands of locating information, understanding and evaluating and reflecting. Sample texts and reading assessment items illustrate the levels of the progression.
The lower levels of the progression include listening comprehension and a reading aloud strand which provides a very broad outline of common stages in the development of decoding skills in alphabetic and alpha-syllabic languages. These strands are not continued beyond level 7. At this level, students have sufficient fluency to support comprehension of short, simple texts, so the focus is on how their comprehension skills improve.
This paper outlines the potential uses of the reading learning progression to achieve a common understanding of levels of literacy proficiency across countries and contexts as well as within school systems and school communities. The detailed level descriptions help educators to better understand how to support reading comprehension development throughout school. The progression also provides an excellent model for reading assessments by defining the scope of skills that should be considered at different points in the progression and modelling a range of good quality reading assessment items.

All sessions by Prue Anderson

Expecting the impossible: the disastrous impact of unrealistic goals

07 Apr 2020
14:15 - 14:30
EXAMINATION SCHOOL - ROOM 06

What do we mean by a good reader? How can we make comparisons?

07 Apr 2020
14:15 - 14:30
EXAMINATION SCHOOL - ROOM 11