Research corner

8th May 2015 at 01:00
Each week, we highlight education research conducted by teachers. Here, Jonathan Gunzi (pictured below), deputy headteacher at Bentley Wood High School for Girls in Harrow, North London, explains how he used the Response to Intervention (RTI) model to narrow the literacy gap between high-performing and struggling pupils

What?

Teachers can use RTI to develop a structured programme for identifying and supporting students with poor academic performance. With help from research organisation Curee, Jonathan Gunzi used the approach to address passage comprehension and reading age.

Why?

Gunzi noted that some students were falling behind in literacy. He felt that RTI would enable teachers to identify who needed support and to choose strategies to enhance those pupils' learning.

How?

RTI is formed of three "tiers" that are adapted for the interventions being implemented. First, students are evaluated to identify which ones are struggling - in Gunzi's case, this meant using the New Group Reading Test (NGRT) designed by GL Assessment.

Second, students are targeted with interventions at increasing rates of intensity in order to bring them up to the level of their peers.

Finally, an evaluation of students' progress leads to suggestions of how they can develop further.

The NGRT analysis highlighted passage comprehension as a particular concern for some students. Gunzi prepared a series of interventions, including a seating plan based on reading ages and encouraging children to scaffold their writing using "self-talk" frameworks. Gunzi also used a targeted homework intervention to raise students' reading ages.

The project lasted for eight weeks. It took place across five departments (drama, maths, history, geography and RE) in Years 7-8 at Bentley Wood, and in Years 5-6 of Aylward Primary School, which forms part of the Harrow Collegiate Teaching Schools Alliance. All teachers were given training and support, as well as a pack with a summary sheet, a list of interventions and individual reports for each student.

The results

Gunzi's statistical analysis shows that all students improved their reading ability and comprehension at an accelerated rate during the period of intervention. Using the Education Endowment Foundation's Teaching and Learning Toolkit to calculate progress, it demonstrates that the targeted students narrowed the gap between themselves and their peers by at least three months over a year.

The impact

The benefits of the intervention were felt across whole year groups. Gunzi believes that any teacher can use RTI methodology to help children in their school. He has now carried out three more RTI projects across the Harrow Collegiate Teaching Schools Alliance.

To find out more about the project, email Jonathan Gunzi at jgunzi@bentleywood.harrow.sch.uk

To share your research findings, email william.martin@tesglobal.com

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