Searching for equality: improving reading literacy at second level in disadvantaged schools. The impact of the JCSP Literacy Strategy on reading literacy with a particular focus on the impact of the JCSP Literacy Medley.
Cassidy, Aideen (2012) Searching for equality: improving reading literacy at second level in disadvantaged schools. The impact of the JCSP Literacy Strategy on reading literacy with a particular focus on the impact of the JCSP Literacy Medley. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
The consequence of being failed by the education system has life-long implications – if one is deprived of basic education, of literacy and numeracy skills, one is excluded from economic, social, and political participation. Success in education offers the marginalised freedom, choices and possibilities. The Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP) supports teachers and their students in accessing and succeeding in the mainstream curriculum. A central plank of the programme is the JCSP Literacy Strategy, which provides schools with an opportunity to put in place a school-wide approach to literacy improvement. Accelerating literacy is key to curricular success, however, there is little research in Ireland as to what works. Such evidence is crucial if our teachers will have confidence in improving adolescent literacy. The purpose of the study is to explore how the JCSP Literacy Strategy impacts on developing reading literacy among groups of first year JCSP students, with a specific focus on the JCSP Literacy Medley. Thirty five schools implemented the JCSP Literacy Medley which involved implementing at least three of the JCSP reading initiatives over one academic year with at least one first year JCSP group and setting up a JCSP reading space/corner in their school. Over one thousand students were involved in the study along with over one hundred and fifty teachers. A mixed methods research approach was taken. Methods included carrying out a student reading survey of 3,653 first year students to gather their perspectives on reading; teachers’ and librarians' feedback was gathered through interviews; and a focus group was used as well as online evaluation tools. Standardised reading test information was also gathered from 700 students to establish reading progress which supplemented teacher observations. Additionally, a case study of one school ensured rich data was gathered to complete the picture. Ten steps to success have emerged from this study that should be considered within the context of a process of change management in participating schools. These include implementing a range of motivational reading interventions supported by bespoke CPD, time to read and access to books in attractive reading spaces.
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