What the ‘Dubbo study’ tells us about background knowledge and reading comprehension

Is a lighthouse just a lighthouse?

The contribution of background or content knowledge to reading comprehension is becoming better understood (see for example, here, here, here, and here) and there are long-standing concerns about persistent differences in literacy levels among rural and metro students, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

Put these things together and you have the basis for an important experimental question: Would students in a rural area with a relatively high Indigenous population perform better on reading comprehension assessments if they were likely to be familiar with the content?

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Threading together the sciences of reading

By Nicola Bell


Research that informs our collective understanding of literacy development is not conducted within one field of science. This is tricky, because it means that researchers working in different areas aren’t necessarily speaking the same language. As such, it’s not always obvious how various strands of evidence are woven together to form a coherent picture of the ‘science of reading’.

So, let’s get detangling. What exactly do people investigate to answer questions related to literacy development?

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Open letter to ACARA about the revised Australian Curriculum: English

Emeritus Professor Max Coltheart has prepared a letter to ACARA on behalf of the members of the Developmental Disorders of Language and Literacy (DDoLL) network, a group of reading researchers, cognitive scientists, teachers, principals, speech pathologists, linguists, and specialist practitioners who are concerned about effective instruction and intervention for all students.

The letter is published here and reproduced below. If you would like to support this letter by adding your name to the list of signatories, please send an email to <http://www.privatedaddy.com/?q=MB59EjMEWXwpKkJILyN7cm8YGQtaInxNNTJGTQ-3D-3D_1001>

Other organisations and networks have distributed similar letters or encouraged their members to support the DDoLL letter. Please sign only one version.

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Curriculum takes backward step on the path to literacy

By Jennifer Buckingham

In the same week that federal education minister Alan Tudge reiterated his aspiration to take Australia back to the top of the international school education rankings, pointing to improved results in the United Kingdom and Poland for inspiration, the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has drawn its inspiration from elsewhere and released a proposed revision of the Australian Curriculum that doesn’t seem likely to move Australian schools in the desired direction of travel.

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