Because literacy is paramount to a fulfilling life, and because it is still a challenge for a significant portion of the global population.
In disadvantaged communities, these challenges hit even harder. We see 7th graders who do not recognize all the letters of the alphabet and children who are soon to finish 8th grade without being able to read fluently.
At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, Teach for Romania fellows teaching grades 2-8 had, on average, 4 students in their class who could not read and write and 6 students with difficulties in reading comprehension.
Some of the most common literacy problems are: difficulty in understanding a text, formulating ideas/opinions about simple topics, lack of coherence in speech, serious spelling and general writing mistakes. Among the causes identified by teachers, we are struggling with: lack of any support outside school, lack of time spent with children needing extra help, major differences between students in terms of their family support and social status, lack of motivation and poor social-emotional skills.
41% of 15-year-old students have poor reading results (they have trouble understanding and interpreting the texts they read). Students from families with a good social-economic status scored 109 points higher in reading than those from families with a low social-economic status. A student from a socioeconomically disadvantaged family has only a 13% chance of
being enrolled in a school ranked
in the top 25% by performance.
Source: PISA assessment, OECD report, What students know and can do, 2018
What we want to achieve
Raising literacy levels in all children
We believe that literacy is a fundamental skill for children having a better chance to successfully integrate into society. Therefore, regardless of the grade and the subject they teach, our fellows are trained to work with their students on improving reading-writing skills alongside comprehension, text analysis or reflection writing.
Depending on the gravity of gap between the expected level of literacy and the one required by the national curriculum, teachers can act in two directions:
During classes – using literacy strategies in classroom activities.
Small group activities outside of school hours (2-3 students), mainly aimed at developing reading and writing skills (remedial lessons) or large group activities (up to 8 students), in summer/winter schools, school trips, reading clubs, etc.
*Bogdan is 18 years old, and in September he started 8th grade
He repeated several years of school, but he has never given up on his education. Half a year ago, Bogdan had trouble recognizing all the letters of the alphabet, he couldn’t write or read fluently. There were no special learning requirements, neither dysgraphia nor dyslexia, he simply missed the moment when he should have learned to write and read.
Developing teacher skills in the public education system
In 2020, supported by Teach for All, we started working on a training and mentoring program for teachers and educators in the public school system who will be able to correctly diagnose and use appropriate strategies to reduce their students’ literacy learning gaps. We offer training, mentoring and constant support to teachers in the public school system who struggle with raising childhood literacy levels, because what we lack most is not teaching resources – courses or sophisticated digital tools, but help to understand them and put them into practice, in the classroom, with their students.
From our research and experience so far, we understand that growing reading-writing skills and other aspects of literacy must start with studying the cognitive processes involved. We should then pay attention to the correct use of methods that are crucial in improving literacy. Moreover, alongside some of our fellows, we successfully piloted a complete process of remedial intervention. (Initial assessment-intervention-final assessment)
In addition, supported by our partners at PEPCO Romania, we managed to build a team of mentors among our fellows, motivated and trained to assess and offer support in our reading intervention strategies for struggling readers
Thus, each of our fellows, regardless of the grade they teach, will act in 2 directions:
in the classroom, where they assess, implement and monitor progress, with appropriate literacy tools;
outside of school hours, where they work with struggling readers to reduce large gaps that can no longer be covered during regular lessons.
Instructional resource development
Our work in raising childhood literacy level brought us closer to experts as motivated as we are to build a successful strategy based on the context and needs of the most vulnerable communities in Romania.
Thus, we bring our solid contribution to designing and implementing two courses in Scoala cu ScLipici program, founded by New Horizons Foundation.