The introduction of regular monitoring of phonics and reading assessments, has begun to yield tangible results, proving an invaluable tool which helps to ensure that learners are getting the support needed to succeed. The results have helped guide our approach in supporting learners, and has become a core component of the success of the education program. This is alongside other key focuses, such as ensuring the consistent creation of detailed and accurate lesson plans, recording sheets and handover notes, all of which are essential to continued student progress.
With the year already well under way, 2018 is off to a busy start for the Dawasamu Education Program, and numerous milestones have already been passed. Alongside learner assessments, ensuring consistency in teaching standards has been a key focus. This has included providing detailed and accurate lesson plans, recording sheets and comprehensive handover notes.
The year started on a very positive note, with the completion of the full refurbishment of the Navunisea District School Library, including the provision of a wide range of books across different grades. Since then, the education team have completed two additional sets of phonics tests and reading assessments. This information has been collated and shared with teachers and the GVI education team, in order to support focus groups and help direct additional resources to students who require it.
In order to track and monitor progress, assessments where devised which ascertain each child's current comprehension and phonics ability. The baseline assessments were carried out in January 2017, with data being recorded for each student in each class (1-8). With the next round of assessments, in April 2017, the data from January and April was compared, enabling each child's progress to be recorded as either increased, remained the same, or decreased.
By the end of 2017 we were able to show the progress of all students assessed throughout the year. Through analysis of the data we identified progress of reading comprehension as an area of concern and decided to target this in the following ways:
- encourage volunteers to teach with more of a comprehension focus, even when working with groups of children who need support with their phonics,
- enable volunteers to feel more confident when teaching literacy lessons by creating a bank of resources to be used as starters, cool downs or main activities to support the teaching of different objectives,
- adapt the volunteer education training to explain and demonstrate more clearly how to plan and teach high quality literacy lessons using the specific resources available to us in Dawasamu.
The changes were put into effect at the start of term three, 2017, and trialled throughout the remainder of the school year. By the start of 2018 we were, once again, able to assess all students in reading comprehension and phonics culminating in progress from August 2017-January 2018 being tracked and recorded. We were pleased to discover that the changes have indeed made a positive impact on reading comprehension progress, with higher percentages of students improving their score or maintaining the same score.
We have been able to accelerate older students, who struggle with reading, through the use of targeted phonics lessons. These students, now in classes 6, 7 and 8, are all now receiving literacy tuition focusing on comprehension as their reading skills have improved enough for them to be able to access most basic texts.
In addition to the above, over the past few months the education team has helped to support teachers and students in Navunisea district school during exam times, presented a recycling programme to learners during school holidays, and held several very successful workshops with community members to introduce parents and teachers to the wide spectrum of resources and tools used to enhance engagement and interest from students and learners.
Whilst the reopening of the library, in the form of an open day with orientation for students and teachers alike was undoubtedly a massive highlight for the start of the year, the ability to observe the consistent positive improvement from students, possible through the learner assessments, has been even more profound.
Throughout 2018 we will continue to focus our attention on teaching literacy lessons covering the relevant year group objectives while working on our ongoing target of improving student comprehension. Our long-term goal is to move towards teaching phonics lessons to only the lower classes (classes 1, 2 and 3), which we hope to make a reality by focusing targeted phonics interventions for students early on so that no child is left behind.
These achievements are all directly supporting our goals and objectives in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 4, “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. It is of course, important to note that many of these positive changes would not have been possible without the incredible generosity of our donors and fundraisers. Additional resources help to enrich and supplement activities focal groups in phonics, reading and comprehension, and have direct and long-lasting impacts on a student’s learning experience and progress.
All the best,