The quantitative data illustrated some promising results. Those students that took part in the Direct Instruction teaching appear to have made greater gains in their phonological awareness when compared to a control group.
The Salford data, although not possible to report on all those taking part in the project, suggests that on average students with moderate learning difficulty made on average 11-month gains in their reading age over a six-month period when taking part in the Direct Instruction project, which is quite remarkable given the student’s learning profiles.
This mirrors previous research that Direct Instruction can be an effective ways of teaching literacy (Rupley, Blair and Nichols, 2009) and is an effective method for students with developmental disorders (florez and Ganz, 2009).
The Simple View of Reading framework was brought into the school the year prior to the project and therefore the ‘teaching as usual’ control groups would have been receiving a focus on phonics, drawing on the letters and sounds curriculum. As all pupils made significant gains in their phonological awareness, word reading and spelling, it suggests the simple view of reading approach is a useful framework for this cohort. However, the data also suggests that the explicit, methodical, accumulative and structured method of teaching incorporated into the Direct Instruction classes added additional value.
The data suggests that both staff and students valued the approach and viewed it as a positive undertaking. Students’ approach to learning, confidence and willingness to learn are the messages that come through strongly from the feedback.
Staff and students also seemed to value the rhythm and repetition- as previously identified by Kim and Axelrod (2005).
Students named features of the Direct Instruction approach that helped them, which seemed to refer to the ‘model, lead, test’ scripts.
Staff commented on the difference in attitude towards reading. It is likely that modelling the sound or word reduces the fear or worry about getting it wrong and therefore enables students to engage more positively in the learning process.