A reading programme developed in a garage is working better than the one recommended by the Ministry of Education, Massey University says.
A new report by education experts Professor James Chapman and Professor Bill Tunmer blasts the Government's approach as "fundamentally flawed".
The Reading Recovery programme costs $40 million a year but New Zealand's literacy rates have flatlined over the past decade.
But the report points to the Quick60 programme as a possible solution.
It is the brainchild of Dr Sandra Iversen, herself a Massey graduate, who put her PhD research about struggling readers into action.
"The way we teach reading in New Zealand is really haphazard," she says.
The Quick60 books were first printed in her son's garage in Greenhithe four years ago.
They are now being used all over New Zealand.
Dr Iversen says Quick60 is "philosophically, diametrically opposed" to Reading Recovery.
Students are taught in small groups rather than one-on-one sessions.
Quick60 can be used at any age, whereas Reading Recovery is an intervention for students who have not progressed during their first year of school. Reading Recovery requires teachers to undergo a year of intensive training, but Quick60 can be taught by anyone from teacher aides to parents.
Quick60 was trialled in a decile one school in Papakura.
The community is so poor only three families have access to the internet and parents have to choose between buying food and taking their children to the doctor, Dr Iversen says.
"That's why we chose the school. If it works there it can work anywhere."
The programme has been adopted by Greenhithe School, Glamorgan School, Sherwood Primary School, Oteha Valley School and Hauraki School, all on Auckland's North Shore.
Greenhithe School principal Peter Marshall says
Quick60 is successful.
"It's fun and the kids love it. It's very appealing for boys because it's non-fiction."
The school uses both Reading Recovery and Quick60.
A special teacher comes in five days a week from 9am to 1pm to teach the Reading Recovery programme to the most needy students.
Mr Marshall says Quick60 covers the same needs, but for two to five children at a time.
The next step for Dr Iversen is rolling out a Quick60 prevention programme that begins as soon as children start school.
In the pilot study less than 10 per cent of students were on or above national reading standards, but after a year that rose to more than 50 per cent.
Dr Iversen says the results are amazing.
"Money can't buy the looks on kids' faces when they realise they can do it. It's so worthwhile."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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