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Reading Records

By Tess Prendergast 7 months ago
Categories Fiji Islands

At  the  beginning  of  February  2016,  the  GVI  Education  team  conducted  Reading  Record  testing  with   students  from  Class  3-­‐8,  across  both  Navunisea  District  School  and  Dawasamu  District  School.  The   purpose  of  these  assessments  was  to  identify  the  specific  level  at  which  each  individual  student  can  read   and  comprehend  a  text.  The  testing  enables  GVI  to  create  individual  reading  profiles  for  students,   providing  class  teachers  and   GVI   volunteers  with  extensive  information  to  use  for  tailored   needs   support,  as  well  as  a  benchmark  for  tracking  both  student  and  class  progress.

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The  testing  showed  a  widespread  imbalance  between   students’  mechanical  reading  ability,  their  ability  to   phonetically  read  words  correctly,  and  their   understanding  of  texts.  Concerns  surrounding  literacy   aptitude  had  been  regularly  highlighted  and  observed   by  the  Education  team,  however  the  extent  to  which   this  issue  impacts  on  the  students  became  clear  after   the  results  were  collaborated.  The  reading  behavior  and   patterns  observed  in  the  results  are  a  common   occurrence  when  students  are  learning  in  their  second   language,  especially  if  they  have  little  experience   speaking  English  outside  of  their  formal  education.  The   Fijian  Ministry  of  Education  have  also  expressed  similar   concern  surrounding  literacy  levels,  leading  to  frequent   coverage  in  the  media,  as  well  as  the  introduction  of  the   ‘Read  to  Lead’  program.

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A  major  long-­‐term  objective  of  GVI’s  Education  project  is  to  improve  students’  understanding  of  English   language,  through  targeting  reading  comprehension  in  the  literacy  program  and  written  language  in   composition  lessons.  These  records  allow  for  literacy  lessons  to  be  tailored  to  small  groups  who  have  a   similar  reading  ability,  giving  GVI  the  opportunity  to  focus  lessons  on  specific  trouble  areas;  as  well  as   giving  students  the  opportunity  to  participate  in  lessons  at  their  level.
The  Reading  Record  testing  also  highlighted  a  small  number  of  students  in  higher  grades  who  were   unable  to  mechanically  read  independently.  These  students  then  completed  activities  to  test  their   phonetic  knowledge,  many  had  little  to  no  understanding  of  the  sounds  letters  make.  This  is  something   that  class  teachers  have  been  concerned  with  but  regrettably  unable  to  completely  evaluate  or  address   due  to  large,  composite  classes  and  lack  of  non-­‐teaching  time.  In  order  to  provide  additional  support  to   these  student  GVI  have  created  an  intensive  phonics  program.  Starting  with  basic  sounds,  students  will
follow  a  complete  scheme  to  gain  an  understanding   of  the  sounds  letters  make  and  how  they  are   blended  to  form  words,  as  well  as  building  an   understanding  of  the  meaning  of   the   new   vocabulary  they  are  learning.

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Sadly  the  damage  caused  by  Cyclone  Winston  has   resulted  in  the  loss   of  three  years’   worth  of   education  resources  and  has  also  disrupted   GVI’s   presence  in   both  NDS  and  DDS.   Fortunately,   the   Reading  Record   results   have  been  retained   electronically  and  GVI  has  been  able  to  start   delivering  tailored  reading  sessions  to  students  two   days  a  week.  Furthermore  this  information  can  be   given  to  the  school  and  class  teachers  as  a  small  step  in  rebuilding  the  school’s  student  records,  many  of   which  were  in  paper  form  and  lost  in  the  cyclone.  In  the  short  term,  the  intensive  phonics  program  can   begin  on  a  less  regular  basis,  as  well  as  some  of  the  literacy  program,  giving  students  some  stability  in   their  education  until  GVI  can  resume  full  time  support  at  both  primary  schools  later  in  the  term.  Once   the  initial  period  of  disaster  ends  and  the  schools  resume  normal  operations,  GVI  will  use  the  in-­‐depth   student  information  compiled  to  set  up  the  project  in  a  timely  manner  and  continue  offering  consistent,   intensive  education  support  to  the  teachers  and  students.

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