Successful Children’s Literacy Program Gets 1.5 Million Dollar Plus Boost

SOLAR literacy program emphasises evidence-based learning.
Nov 1, 2023
Some students are not cracking the alphabetic code.

Recent NAPLAN data showed that over 30 per cent of Victorian Year 3 students were not reading proficiently, highlighting the need for exemplary evidence-based instruction for teachers and educators.

La Trobe University’s Professor Pamela Snow and Associate Professor Tanya Serry founded the Science of Language and Reading (SOLAR) Lab in 2020, collaborating with researchers, teachers, school leaders and allied health professionals to integrate evidence-based learning approaches into classroom practice to promote success in reading, writing and spelling.

After a successful pilot coaching program that delivered support, training and resources to teachers across eight Victorian schools, a $1.5 million plus AERO collaboration will expand the SOLAR Lab’s reach to twenty schools, using a semi-randomised controlled trial methodology to measure impact.

“Victorian schools can choose their own approach to reading instruction, so some students experience exemplary, evidence-based instruction, while others are exposed to less effective methods, that don’t explicitly teach novice readers to ‘crack’ the alphabetic code,” Prof Snow said.

Associate Professor Tanya Serry said the funding will support an examination of the overall effectiveness of coaching for teachers, as well as identifying which aspects of teacher coaching and professional support are most successful in the classroom.

“We have seen terrific success with our SOLAR Lab program so far and this partnership enables us to measure the impact of our work and expand our reach into additional schools.

"Literacy is a fundamental life skill, and our program is related to the first three years of school which are critical to children learning to read and write,” Prof Serry said.

“How reading is taught is critically important. When taught well, most students will learn to read proficiently after three years of school with just a small percentage needing extra support. At present this is not the case,” Prof Snow said.