A tale of research design in an exceptional context: Evaluating the implementation of the National Accelerated Literacy Program in the Northern Territory

Year: 2007

Author: Bartlett, Claire, Emmett, Sue

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Northern Territory is and exceptional educational context. While it is rich in geographical and cultural assets, its report card in terms of English literacy outcomes for Indigenous students is shocking. The National Accelerated Literacy Program (NALP) aims to improve outcomes for students, particularly for marginalized Indigenous students, by raising English literacy levels using the Accelerated Literacy methodology. By the end of 2008 it is anticipated that the Accelerated Literacy Program will be implemented in 100 Northern Territory schools, with 700 teachers and 10,000 students participating. Charles Darwin University (CDU) has been contracted by the Northern Territory Department of Employment, Education and Training (NT DEET) to evaluate the extent to which Accelerated Literacy professional development and support impact on Accelerated Literacy teaching methods and student outcomes in the Northern Territory.

This paper describes the exceptional educational context in which the evaluation is taking place, and explores the unique issues and potentially controversial questions about program, teacher and school effectiveness that evaluators have addressed in the research design. The simplicity of the data collection instruments, and in particular, the observation instruments being used in this evaluation belies this complexity.