Two new evaluations from the Education Endowment Foundation in
England have found that two interventions using teaching assistants
(TAs) have positive effects.
REACH is a targeted reading support programme designed to improve the
reading accuracy and comprehension of students with reading
difficulties in Years 7 and 8. It is delivered by specially trained TAs.
tested two interventions – one based on the original Reading
Intervention developed by the University of York, and the other with
supplementary material on language comprehension. The evaluation was
carried out in 21 schools around Leeds, with 202 students (70 and 69
receiving each intervention; 63 control). Results showed a positive
effect on reading skills for both the Reading Intervention (+0.33) and
the Reading Intervention with additional material on language
comprehension (+0.51). The evaluations did not provide evidence that the
interventions improved reading comprehension in particular, as opposed
to other skills such as word recognition.
The Nuffield Early Language Intervention is designed to improve the
spoken language ability of children during the transition between
nursery and primary school. It is targeted at children with poor
language skills, who receive 20 or 30 weeks of sessions focused on
listening, narrative, and vocabulary skills. The evaluation
is delivered by TAs and nursery staff. The evaluation was carried out
in 34 schools with attached nursery schools or nursery classes in
Yorkshire and the South-East, with 350 children participating (114
received the 30-week treatment, 121 the 20-week treatment, and 115 in
the control group). Both interventions had a positive effect on language
skills (+0.27 for the 30-week and +0.16 for the 20-week). However,
there was no reliable evidence that it had a positive effect on
children’s word-literacy skills.
Source:REACH and Nuffield Early Language Intervention (2016), Education Endowment Foundation.