卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief
Using teaching assistants to improve language skills and reading

Two evaluations from the Education Endowment Foundation in England have found that two interventions using paraprofessional teaching assistants (TAs) have positive effects.

REACH is a targeted reading support program designed to improve the reading accuracy and comprehension of students with reading difficulties in middle school. It is delivered by specially trained TAs. The evaluation tested two interventions – one based on the original Reading Intervention developed by the University of York, and the other with supplementary material on language comprehension. The evaluation was carried out in 21 schools around Leeds, with 202 students (70 and 69 receiving each intervention; 63 control). Results showed that:

  • There was a positive effect on reading skills for both the Reading Intervention (E.S.= +0.33) and the Reading Intervention with additional material on language comprehension (E.S.= +0.51).
  • The evaluations did not provide evidence that the interventions improved reading comprehension in particular, as opposed to other skills such as word recognition.

The Nuffield Early Language Intervention is designed to improve the spoken language ability of children during the transition between preschool and primary school. It is targeted to children with poor language skills, who received 20 or 30 weeks of sessions focused on listening, narrative, and vocabulary skills. The intervention is delivered by TAs and preschool staff. The evaluation was carried out in 34 preschools in Yorkshire and the South-East, with 350 children participating (114 received the 30-week treatment, 121 the 20-week treatment, and 115 in the control group). The results of this study were as follows:

  • Both interventions had a positive effect on language skills (E.S.= +0.27 for the 30-week and E.S.= +0.16 for the 20-week).
  • However, there was no reliable evidence that it had a positive effect on children’s word-literacy skills.

These findings indicated that some programmes could be effectively carried out by teacher assistants, which might lower the cost.


Source (Open access):

Sibieta, L. (2016). REACH : Evaluation report and executive summary. London: Education Endowment Foundation.

Sibieta, L., Kotecha, M., & Skipp, A. (2016). Nuffield Early Language Intervention : Evaluation report and executive summary. London: Education Endowment Foundation.Read the rest

How do young children develop agency, literacy, and numeracy?

new resource from Deans for Impact summarizes current cognitive-science research related to how young children - from birth to age eight - develop skills across three domains: agency, literacy, and numeracy.

It aims to give guidance to anyone working in education who is interested in understanding the science of how young children develop control of their own behavior and intentions, how they learn to read and write, and how they develop the ability to think mathematically.

For each domain, the report identifies key questions about learning and provides a short list of the principles from learning science that inform the answers to these questions. The resource then connects these principles to a set of practical implications for specific teaching strategies. For example, the report identified children regulate their behaviors by achieving the following:  

  • Remember their goals
  • Suppress impulses and not respond to distractions
  • Be able to change how they think and react to things.  

Accordingly, the report made a recommendation to scaffold the ability of young children to self-regulate behaviors by striving for consistency and predictability. Use consistent schedules and involve children in plans for the day. The original research is clearly referenced for anyone wishing to find out more.


Source (Open Access): Deans for Impact (2019). The Science of early learning. Austin, TX: Deans for Impact. Retrieved from: https://deansforimpact.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/The_Science_of_Early_Learning.pdfRead the rest

What does good professional development for teaching language look like?

Research published in AERA Open examines the features needed for effective teacher professional development (PD) aimed at preparing teachers to support their students in mastering language expectations across the curriculum.

Eva Kalinowski and colleagues conducted a systematic review of studies of PD programs, published between 2002 and 2015, which aimed to support teachers to improve their students’ academic language ability in different subject areas. Of the 38 studies they reviewed, all but one were carried out in the US. Eighteen studies used quantitative data only, three used a mainly qualitative approach, and 17 used mixed methods.

Although the researchers were unable to conclude which elements actually influenced the effectiveness of the programs analyzed, they found that all of the studies were effective to some extent, and shared many characteristics considered to be important in successful teacher PD across different subject areas. The forms of PD likely to show some effect for teachers and students in this area were:

  • long-term intensive programs that included multiple learning opportunities aimed at elaborating and practicing newly learned knowledge and strategies
  • provided practical assistance
  • enabled and encouraged teachers to work together
  • considered teachers’ needs as well as students’ learning processes and languages spoken at home

The authors suggested PD is a way that policymakers could influence and worth investing in.


Source (Open Access): Kalinowski, E., Gronostaj, A., & Vock, M. (2019). Effective professional development for teachers to foster students’ academic language proficiency across the curriculum: A systematic review. AERA Open, 5(1), doi:10.1177/2332858419828691Read the rest

Does school entry age matter?

In the UK, children usually start elementary school in the academic year in which they turn five. However, because entry rules vary across local districts, some schools may defer entry for children born later in the year until the second or third term.

new study by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London looks at what impact an earlier versus later entry into Reception has on students' cognitive and non-cognitive skills up until age 11 (their final year of primary school).

Christian Dustmann and Thomas Cornelissen analyzed information on more than 400,000 children born in 2000-01 who attend state schools in England and whose records are included in the National Pupil Database. This was combined with information on more than 7,000 children born in 2000-01 who took part in the Millennium Cohort study.

The researchers found that

  • Receiving an extra month of schooling before age five increases test scores in language and numeracy at ages five and seven by about 6-11%.
  • But by age 11, the effects on test scores have largely disappeared.
  • For boys from low socioeconomic backgrounds, the benefits of an earlier school entry are even greater. An additional term of schooling before age five reduces the achievement gap between boys from low and high socioeconomic backgrounds at age seven by 60-80%.

The authors suggested their findings contributed to the debate over optimal school starting age.


Source (Open Access): Cornelissen, T., & Dustmann, C. (2019). Early School Exposure, Test Scores, and Noncognitive Outcomes. Working Paper, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, University College LondonRead the rest

Ethnic minority pupils disproportionately identified with special educational needs

Pupils from ethnic minority groups are over-represented for some types of special educational needs (SEN) and under-represented for other types compared to white British pupils, according to new research led by Steve Strand and Ariel Lindorff at the University of Oxford.

Using data from the England National Pupil Database from 2005–2016, the report looks at all children age five to 16 in England who have been identified with different types of SEN. As well as identifying ethnic disproportionality, the report also considered whether socio-economic factors, such as poverty and neighbourhood deprivation, or children’s early attainment, had any impact on pupils being identified as having SEN.

The key findings of the report suggest:

  • Black Caribbean and mixed white and black Caribbean pupils are twice as likely to be identified with social, emotional and mental health needs as white British pupils.
  • Asian pupils are half as likely to be identified with autistic spectrum disorders as white British pupils.
  • Indian and Chinese pupils are half as likely to be identified with moderate learning difficulties as white British pupils.

While similar research has been done in the US, it is the first time a study with this detail has been conducted in the UK.


Source: Strand, S., & Lindorff, A. (2019.). Ethnic disproportionality in the identification of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in England: Extent, causes and consequences. Oxford: University of Oxford. Read the rest