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Education Worldwide

Evaluation of “Reading Schools” and “Reading Preschools”

Reading campaign “Cala Polska czyta dzieciom”


poster of the reading campaign

Poster of the campaign, © Foundation ABCXXI

The “ABCXXI - All of Poland Reads to Kids” foundation and the Polish Ministry of Culture jointly launched a campaign for promoting reading in 2001. This campaign aimed to promote reading aloud, at school, at home and in public places. In 2011, the foundation celebrates the tenth anniversary of its successful programme, which has produced many projects and actions.
In 2003, some of the schools participating in the campaign, by regularly reading aloud to children, were pointed out as “reading schools”. In 2006, the centre for evaluation, “Osrodek Ewaluaji” analysed effects of the regular reading activities together with local programme coordinators.

1. Objectives of the Evaluation:

  • What effects, particularly regarding the language competencies of children, can be attributed to the programme? To this end, a comparison was drawn between classes that took part in the programme and a control group of classes where no systematic reading programme was carried out.
  • Determination of factors impacting upon the programme’s effectiveness.
  • Formulation of conclusions and recommendations for enhancing the quality of the programme.

2. Data assessment and diversity of methods
A total number of 22 school and preschool classes were taken into account, consisting of eight preschool groups, four third and fourth school years each and six classes from middle school year 2. The following steps were involved:

  • participating observation in school classes , whereby the monitoring researchers also read out aloud to the children (22 videotaped footages),
  • analysis of texts written by children older than ten years. Children wrote a text of their own on a given topic. Before, the children had read a text on the pertinent topic by themselves (204 written works),
  • analysis of sketches drawn by the children under the age of ten years, based on a text the primary school children had read themselves, or that was read out to the preschoolers (263 sketches),
  • interviews with the teachers,
  • interviews with the “readers”,
  • interviews with school librarians (total number of interviews: 37),
  • moderated discussions with school and preschool children, nested into a reading session.

3. Central Findings
The study demonstrated a positive effect of reading to children on the development of their language competencies. Different kinds of developmental progress particularly emerged between classes where a stronger emphasis was put on reading to the children, and the control group of classes where no such attempts were made. A difference was also assessed regarding the development of preschoolers and primary school children. Improvements as compared to the control group of classes were demonstrated in the following areas:

  • Language and writing skills: Reading out aloud to children enhances their vocabulary and expression.
  • Comprehension of texts following instructions: Children progressively made fewer mistakes in answering questions. The children were better able to memorise details from texts.
  • Concentration and reception: The students were far less bored or displayed a lack of interest. Children were able to remember more details from stories.
  • Improved reflection and critical thinking were particularly discernible in discussion rounds.
  • Logical thinking, e. g. on the correlation of causes and effects, was particularly revealed in the sketches and written texts.
  • Motivation for active participation compared to children from control classes, the children from the reading programme were more ready to compose far longer texts by themselves.
  • Social conduct and ability to solve problems: For instance, the children learned from the stories how to interact peacefully.
  • Relationships between teachers and children were improved through the interplay of reading out aloud and listening.
  • Frankness and particular preferences: The participating children developed preferences of their own for particular genres and communicated them to the researchers.
  • Readiness to read and attitude to books: Children from the reading classes borrowed more books from the library and their attitudes to reading were more positive.
  • More support from the parents who, pursuant to their children’s growing interest, began to read to their children.

Regarding the preschoolers, reading out aloud and the positive connotation of reading had a positive effect on the children’s development. As opposed to storytelling, it is also important for this group of children to find orientation in literary texts, because this type of literature further supports and develops language skills.

Primary school children particularly show progress in their ability to concentrate and in their imagination as well as in formulating their own opinions and understanding meanings of texts.

Middle school children improve their language competence, their reading comprehension, their ability to reflect and they develop an ability to recognise different perspectives. However, the distance between middle school participants and the control group of non-participants was not so significant. The age group of middle school children is principally less prone to take an interest in reading aloud activities. On the one hand, the teachers themselves seem to believe this is inappropriate for the young people, while on the other hand, the students themselves do not take such an interest. Moreover, middle school children rarely experience their parents reading to them at home - adding to the negative imbalance In many cases, the children’s preferences are so distinct in this age group that it is increasingly more difficult to find appropriate literature.

4. Consequences and Recommendations
The programme is most successful with younger children. The study revealed particularly positive findings for preschoolers and primary schoolers who most enjoyed the reading out aloud sessions. It is moreover important to select books that are appropriate for the particular age groups and that are visually appealing. Moreover, children should be given sufficient time for questions or feedback following a reading session. Teachers should be composed, warm and assuring while reading to the children. The reading room should support a quiet, concentrated atmosphere. Besides a supportive atmosphere, the psychological and physical conditions of the children are crucial to the success of reading hours. Learning to deal with books is crucial in the children’s development of reading competence. The teachers’ and parents’ attitudes to reading out aloud and their readiness to read to children have a direct impact on the children’s reading motivation.

The team of evaluators moreover recommends that the programme should be particularly implemented in pre- and primary schools, extending it to more advanced school years at a later stage. Tasks should be gradually introduced to the reading sessions without putting too much pressure on the children. An evaluation might thus be conducted in parallel to the programme’s schedule. For instance, reading hours might be complemented with creative sessions, e.g. drawing or modelling. Cooperation with school managers might also be useful in emphasising the relevance of the reading sessions. Reading out aloud should also find more attention in teacher training

Summary: Stiftung Lesen, June 2011

Source: www.allofpolandreadstokids.org/oe-report

Foundation ABCXXI - All of Poland Reads to Kids
Rosola 44 A Str.
02-787 Warsaw, Poland
E-Mail: fundacja@cpcd.pl
Internet: www.AllofPolandReadstoKids.org

Translated into English by Gwendolyn Schulte (DIPF)



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