There is an accepted relationship between students’ oral language skills and their ability to master literacy skills in schools. The importance of developing oral language skills in the early years is important so that students can fully engage with instruction. However, to develop those skills, teachers must understand this relationship and support the development of oral language in their classrooms. One proposed approach to this is through professional learning that helps teachers develop new knowledge and beliefs as well as new pedagogy to address oral language development.
A recent study by Goldfeld and colleagues tested whether the Classroom Promotion of Oral Language (CPOL) intervention, a teacher professional learning program focused on oral language in kindergarten and first grade, improved student literacy outcomes at the end of first and third grade. The study was conducted in Australia, in government and Catholic schools. A total of 36 schools were randomly assigned to participate in CPOL, with another 36 assigned to continue with their current professional learning.
There were no significant differences in student outcomes, for either reading in third grade on the standardized, system-wide reading test given to all students, or on a range of literacy measures at the end of first grade.
It is important to note that an earlier report on this study examining teacher outcomes found while the teacher knowledge of oral language improved for CPOL participants, there were no changes in teacher instruction, which could explain the lack of improvements in student outcomes. This work highlights the challenges in changing teacher instructional practices to improve student outcomes, especially when implemented at scale.
Source (Open Access): Goldfeld, S., Snow, P., Eadie, P., Munro, J., Gold, L., Le, H. N. D., Orsini, F., Shingles, B., Connell, J., Watts, A., & Barnett, T. (2022). Classroom promotion of oral language: Outcomes from a randomized controlled trial of a Whole-of-Classroom intervention to improve children’s reading achievement. AERA Open, 8, 23328584221131530. https://doi.org/10.1177/23328584221131530