"Why CSI Pays Off" - Sir Douglas Bader Intermediate Case Study


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"Why CSI Pays Off" - Sir Douglas Bader Intermediate Case Study

  1. 1. Why Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) Pays Off The remarkable gains in literacy achievement at Sir Douglas Bader Intermediate Dr. Sarah Powell November, 2011Dr. Sarah Powell, “Why Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) Pays Off” © 2011
  2. 2. Page |2‘Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you Enhancing the overall quality of teaching andcan’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. learning is a key objective for SDBI. The mostMake up your mind you’ll never use crutches recent report from the Education Reviewor a stick, then have a go at everything… Office (ERO) further identified studentNever, never let them persuade you that engagement as an area for improvement. As athings are too difficult or impossible’. result principal Peter Weir decided to implement the CSI Literacy approach across Sir Douglas Bader the school to ‘strengthen teaching and learning approaches that promote studentsThese rousing words on the website of Sir thinking strategies’.3Douglas Bader Intermediate (SDBI)1 urge theschool’s Year 7 and 8 students to beat the Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) isodds, just like the heroic fighter pilot after an evidence-based literacy resource withwhom the school is named. This call to prove practical lesson plans, designed by Nealenaysayers wrong is especially fitting for the Pitches and his team at South Pacific Press toMangere-based pupils whose predominantly develop readers’ critical thinking skills,low socio-economic status and ‘minority’ vocabularies and fluency. CSI provides supportcultural backgrounds are commonly for teachers as they deliberately teach, byassociated with lower than average literacy modelling and interaction, comprehensionachievement. For Principal Peter Weir, raising strategies and vocabulary, using a digitalachievement in literacy is a top priority for the interface for shared reading. Students thendecile one school, notwithstanding the work cooperatively to apply their newly-challenges presented by the demographic of acquired strategic knowledge using a new textits roll  in recent years, up to 99% of students and then write into a graphic organiser, tocame from Māori, Pasifika, or other non- show what they can do. The CSI texts areEuropean ethnicities.2 chosen from across the subject areas of science, mathematics, social studies, non- fiction and fiction. While the resource isThe rationale for adopting CSI — international, the issues raised in the texts areSDBI’s key areas of focus: highly engaging for New Zealand students, 1. Achievement in literacy whose crucial ‘world knowledge’ is enhanced 2. Quality of teaching and by the many short texts they experience. learning Following one day of intensive professional 3. Student engagement development with Neale at the start of 2011, 4. Support to strengthen teachers established baseline levels of literacy students’ thinking strategies through pre-intervention testing using Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning (asTTle)4, then adopted CSI right across the 3 http://www.ero.govt.nz/Early-Childhood-School- Reports/School-Reports/Sir-Douglas-Bader-Intermediate- School-03-11-2008/Recommendations 4 A resource developed by the University of Auckland which1 http://sirdouglasbader.ultranet.school.nz/WebSpace/19/ allows teachers to create and analyse tests for literacy. The2 ERO, Sir Douglas Bader Intermediate School Education Review resulting reports show what students know, what gaps they03/11/2008 (p.2); ERO, Sir Douglas Bader Intermediate School have in their learning, and what they need to learn next. ForEducation Review 16/10/2005 (p.2) more details, see http://www.tki.org.nz/r/asttle/about_e.php Dr. Sarah Powell, “Why Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) Pays Off” © 2011
  3. 3. Page |3school in each of the composite Year 7 and 8 Between tests, the distribution of studentsclasses. moved from a very high concentration at curriculum level two (83%, reduced to 61%) toAfter 14 weeks of implementation, post-tests greater representation at level three, levelrevealed some remarkable improvements in four and – for the first time – level five. Thesestudents’ literacy proficiency. Overall, the pre- significant shifts in whole curriculum levels forand post-CSI reading scores were highly reading are illustrated in Chart One (below).encouraging, showing accelerated progress inreading functions and processes across both Other noteworthy results reveal that:year groups. In fact, the adoption of the CSI  Year 8 students made particularintervention has positioned SDBI to more than improvementsexceed its own achievement expectations of  Māori students performed well,improving in reading over the course of the especially those in Year 8year.  The school’s greatest overall achievement was in ‘thinking critically’Perhaps most strikingly, 60% of the students – this was also one of the areas ofgained one or more curriculum sub-levels accelerated learning for Māori.between tests – this is an outstanding featgiven that the average expected rate is onesub-level over one to two years. Dr. Sarah Powell, “Why Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) Pays Off” © 2011
  4. 4. Page |4After designing and carrying out its asTTleassessments in reading, the school mapped Chart Two: Achievement of Year 7 Sir Douglasstudents’ performance in terms of National Bader intermediate students in NationalStandards. This exercise showed that the large Standards for Reading, before and after theproportion of SDBI students in the ‘wellbelow’ and ‘below’ categories progressed to CSI interventionhigher reporting bands following the CSIintervention. Week 1This impressive rate of change over just oneterm bodes well for the school to meet itstarget to increase the number of studentsachieving ‘at’ or ‘above’ the NationalStandards at the end of the year.Chart Two (right) shows that the proportion ofthe Year 7 cohort ‘well below’ expectationsdropped dramatically following the CSIintervention, with a corresponding rise in the‘below’ category. This positive movement wasalso reflected in unprecedented Year 7representation in the ‘above’ categories. Week 14 Well above Above Well below At Below Dr. Sarah Powell, “Why Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) Pays Off” © 2011
  5. 5. Page |5 Chart Three (left) depicts changes for Year 8Chart Three: Achievement of Year 8 Sir students. Starting from a higher proportionDouglas Bader intermediate students in ‘below’ expectations for reading, theseNational Standards for Reading, before and students experienced a sizeable drop-off atafter the CSI intervention this level, with higher proportions operating ‘at’ National Standards and – again for the first time – in the ‘above’ or even ‘well above’ categories after using CSI. 5 This relatively clean and robust data from ‘lived’ classroom experiences presents compelling evidence that the CSI intervention had a positive effect on the literacy achievement of SDBI students – what’s more, students made this accelerated progress over the course of just 14 weeks. So what did the teachers think about the CSI package? While the extent of implementation varied between them, those who most closely followed the metacognitive model and the Week 14 oral/interactive components appear to have had better outcomes. One teacher in particular admitted to being reticent towards Well above Well below CSI at the beginning but soon grew to ‘totally Above love it’. Those who most closely At followed CSI’s metacognitive model and the oral/ Below interactive components appear to have had better outcomes. 5 While these proportions remain some way from the Ministry of Education’s estimates that 60% of students are likely to be ‘at’ or ‘above’ the reading standard at Year 8 (New Zealand Education Gazette 3 May 2010), they represent real progress for SDBI whose students, on average, enter at Year 7 at least two years behind in reading. Dr. Sarah Powell, “Why Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) Pays Off” © 2011
  6. 6. Page |6Teacher feedback variously commended the With such encouraging results from SDBI’s‘easy to follow sequence of the lessons’ and piloting of CSI and staff requests to ‘use thethe ‘ready-made resources’, as well as the resource throughout the year’, the school’ssatisfaction of ‘relating to things you already priority to raise literacy achievement is onknow’, especially through the strategies of track to beat the odds and then some,questioning and making text-to-text honouring those words of Sir Bader thatconnections. things are not too difficult or impossible.While many students – and some teachers –found the texts above-level or just plain‘hard’, those with the ‘have a go’ attitudeactually enjoyed the challenge, and wereproud of learning to apply the strategiestogether.With the composite nature of the classesincreasing the range of literacy proficiencyamongst the students, certain teachers feltthat next time they would use a different levelto better engage all their students in qualitydiscussion and as independent readers. One teacher in particular admitted to being reticent towards CSI at the beginning, but soon grew to ‘totally love it’.Teachers commonly reported good responsesto the colourful texts and pictures which werealso praised for presenting a variety ofmaterial in different formats. Although someteachers found the content to be ‘foreign’(‘American’) in places, others applauded thescope of the kits which ‘exposed students towider concepts’. Positive feedback was alsoreceived on the digital aspect of theinstruction. Dr. Sarah Powell, “Why Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) Pays Off” © 2011