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ERIC Number: EJ763300
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
The English Experiment: An Hour a Day Keeps Illiteracy at Bay
Machin, Stephen; McNally, Sandra
Education Next, v5 n3 p70-76 Sum 2005
In developed countries like the United States and Britain, the continuing challenge for educators is to sort through the choices of an all-you-can-eat school system and teach the basic skills. Despite so-called universal education, an alarming number of people still fail to reach even basic levels of literacy. The "literacy hour" was introduced in a select group of primary schools in September, 1996, as part of England's National Literacy Project (NLP). It provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of such highly structured programs on learning. Aimed at children from 5 to 11 years of age, the literacy hour spurned the passive (or quiet) approach to reading used in many classrooms in the United States and Britain and brought a great deal of precision to the task of instruction, mainly with a tightly organized and strictly managed program. This study aims to answer the following questions: (1) Do such formal and structured reading programs work?; and (2) Will they improve reading abilities, and will they do so at a reasonable cost? To answer these questions, the authors took advantage of the fact that children in 400 schools were in the program for up to two years before it was rolled out in all of England's primary schools, in the fall of 1998. They were also able to explore the program's impact on gender gaps in pupil achievement, an important issue since in England, as in other countries, girls have traditionally outperformed boys in literacy-related activities. This study found that exposure to the literacy hour significantly improved students' reading and English achievement, with bigger gains for boys than for girls. Moreover, the program proved to be highly cost-effective means of improving reading scores, especially when compared with the common alternatives, like class size reductions and raising teachers' salaries. (Contains 2 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England); United States