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Closing the Gap Between Research and Practice

Foundations for the Acquisition of Literacy

Closing the Gap Between Research and Practice by Marion de Lemos
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Teaching children how to read and write has always been the primary objective of education or schooling. However, in recent years there have been concerns that this major objective has not been achieved, or has not been achieved at a satisfactory level, by many students by the end of the compulsory years of schooling. This has led to a renewed focus on literacy at both Commonwealth and state level, and the introduction of new policies and practices which are aimed at improving literacy outcomes. These policies and practices parallel developments that have occurred in a number of other countries, and have included setting standards or benchmarks to make explicit the standards of achievement expected at different levels of schooling, introducing programs of national or state-wide testing to monitor the extent to which these standards are being met, and examining the effectiveness of different instructional and intervention approaches designed to improve literacy outcomes. At the same time there have been significant advances over the past two decades in the research on reading and on the processes underlying the acquisition of reading. This research has led to the questioning of some of the assumptions on which current teaching practices have been based, and have identified some of the critical factors associated with the acquisition of reading skills. This review clearly cannot hope to cover in any depth the vast and growing literature on the development of reading literacy. Nor would it seem useful to attempt to duplicate work that has already been done in terms of reviewing the literature and drawing from such a review the implications for teaching practice. Rather the review will draw on the work already undertaken by experts and expert committees, with the aim of presenting as clearly and succinctly as possible the main issues that have been covered in these reviews, and the implications that are of particular relevance to the Australian scene. In this sense, the review will be an attempt to pick out from the vast literature on reading literacy the ‘plums’ that might inform educators and educational administrators of the essential findings to emerge from the research literature, and the implications of these findings for teaching practice and educational policy.
Australian Council for Educational Research; Read online
Title: Closing the Gap Between Research and Practice
Author: Marion de Lemos

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