Sustaining systematic improvement in NT schools

Year: 2007

Author: Bartlett, Claire

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The National Accelerated Literacy Program (NALP) was established in 2004, when the developers of “Scaffolding Literacy” brought their program to the Northern Territory at Charles Darwin University with funding from DEST to support a system-wide implementation of the methodology. The Northern Territory Department of Education, Employment and Training (DEET) committed to rolling out the Accelerated Literacy program in 100 schools, training 700 teachers and reaching 10,000 students in predominantly remote locations. As a member of the evaluation team examining the impact of the program on teacher effectiveness and student outcomes, the question of proving or improving raises its head. While the focus of the evaluation is clearly to ‘prove’ I argue that there is also a real need to use the evaluation process to improve implementation efforts in Northern Territory schools, particularly regarding the provision of school based professional learning. Page 2

The model of intensive training being evaluated is described, along with the findings from thematic analysis of teacher focus group data which explored teacher’s opinions of is school professional learning and support. Thematic analysis of teacher focus group data demonstrates that there are two main areas which had the greatest impact on supporting teachers as they went about the task of program implementation: the provision of ongoing in school support, embedded in teacher’s daily work and providing highly trained school based specialists to facilitate this. While these strategies are highly effective, they are the exception rather than the norm. I use these findings, along with current professional learning research and literature as a basis for a discussion of possible ways to build teacher capacity through in school professional learning. Finally I argue the case for further research to explore the potential of online learning communities and regional face to face networks to support teacher and specialist professional learning in schools.