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Advancing literacy with 1,700 teachers enrolled in new ACU course

Published by the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) on  (15 May 2024)

Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Australian Centre for the Advancement of Literacy, launched in 2023, has been working closely with Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) to develop an online course for teaching and assessing reading in K-2 that aligns with the new English syllabus.

The course aims to build teacher capacity in reading instruction and develop system-wide and consistent pedagogical, assessment and intervention practices that lead to improved student reading outcomes. The first four modules of this course have already been released, with over 1,700 teachers enrolled.  Specialist for literacy K-12 at Sydney Catholic Schools James Muldowney said that the benefits of the course for schools and teachers will be enormous.

“The course is directly mapped to the new K-2 English syllabus and demonstrates to teachers how to explicitly teach the main components of reading,” said James.

“Students benefit as reading is aligned across our system providing equitable access to the best, evidence-based strategies for all. System-wide assessment screeners will be put in place to ensure that students who need intervention, both in-class and in small group sessions, will receive intervention as early as possible.”

While the online training for the K-2 reading course started in February, a professional learning day was held at ACU’s North Sydney campus for SCS’s teaching and learning coaches on 17 April. The objective of the day was to deepen their knowledge of key aspects of the first three modules of the course.

This was the first professional learning day held this year to ensure the coaches had the opportunity to ask questions and deepen their knowledge in certain aspects of the program,” said James.

“It’s one part of a much bigger framework. Building on the learnings from the course, the coaches will work with middle leaders to ensure that the instructional practices are implemented into the classroom with students, continuing to build the capacity of K-2 teachers to explicitly teach reading in line with the NSW syllabus’ expectations.”

Whilst classroom teachers undertake the 11 modules of the course (approximately 40 hours of online learning), the T&L Coaches will work collaboratively for an additional seven days with ACU, improving their own learning in this area and creating resources that can be shared across the system.

Director of the Australian Centre for the Advancement of Literacy, Professor Rauno Parrila has worked closely with SCS and says that right now the focus of ACU is on helping Catholic schools and dioceses to implement explicit and systematic literacy instruction.

“SCS wants to implement structure and we are working with them all the way from training teachers, to building programs that provide teaching materials and examples of practice to teach lessons,” said Rauno.

“Once those are in place, the data coming in from different schools should be comparable, which then allows schools and dioceses to identify trends and examine the effectiveness of different local programs in a manner that is not possible without consistent assessment practices. The overall goal is to make sure all students receive evidence-based literacy instruction and develop literacy skills that allow them to succeed in school.



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