Improving Early Literacy Outcomes

Curriculum, Teaching, and Assessment


Editors: Nic Spaull and John Comings
Learning to read and write for meaning and pleasure are arguably the two most important competences that children acquire in primary school. Yet, in 2019 more than one half of children worldwide do not reach this first rung on the literacy ladder. Improving Early Literacy Outcomes aims to address this head-on, by foregrounding the work of more than 40 researchers, most of them living in, and working on, developing countries.
Their contributions illuminate, magnify, and discover anew the importance of improving early reading, through precise alignment of curriculum, teaching, and assessment, and with a special focus on some of the most under-studied countries in the world (e.g., Burkina Faso, Niger, and Senegal).
Through probing analyses of research, policy, and practice, the book highlights the common experiences of high aspirations repeatedly confronting harsh realities. Sixteen interconnected chapters cast an ever-vigilant and deflationary eye on the temptation to take an unrealistic approach to early literacy, and also caution against lumping all languages, contexts, and policy-challenges into a single heap.
This book provides an indispensable guide to policymakers, practitioners, educators, and academics working towards the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Improving the teaching, learning, and assessment of early grade literacy is key not only to expanding the quality, access, and equity of education, but also to unlocking all the other SDGs, and ultimately to driving development.

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Nic Spaull (South Africa) is a senior researcher in the Economics Department at Stellenbosch University, and Director of Funda Wande – Reading For Meaning, a world-class multimedia course to teach Foundation Phase (grades R-3) teachers how to teach reading.
John P. Comings (United States) is a senior technical consultant at World Education, an international NGO based in Boston, and a faculty member at the Center for International Education, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
"The book tackles the vital question of how to improve early literacy, which is of particular importance to children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. I strongly recommend it to policy actors, non-government organisations, researchers, and students seeking to understand, and identify solutions to, the learning crisis facing many countries around the world." – Pauline Rose, Professor and Director, Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, Cambridge University
Mmantsetsa Marope
Notes on Contributors


Part 1: Improving Early Literacy Outcomes: Curriculum, Teaching, and Assessment

1. The Early Reading Curriculum: International Policy and Practice
Claire McLachlan
2. Aligning Curriculum and Assessment in Early Reading Education
Peter Afflerbach
3. Assessing Early Literacy Outcomes in Burkina Faso and Senegal: Using DHS and PASEC to Combine Access and Quality
Nic Spaull and Adaiah Lilenstein
4. Getting It Right from the Start: Some Cautionary Notes for Early Reading Instruction in African Languages
Elizabeth J. Pretorius
5. The Teaching of Reading and Writing in Second- and Multi-Language Contexts: Evidence from Canada
Robert Savage and Marie-France Côté
6. Early Literacy Instruction in India: Redefining the Challenge
Shobha Sinha
7. Challenges Associated With Reading Acquisition in Sub-Saharan Africa: Promotion of Literacy in Multilingual Contexts
Heikki Lyytinen, Emma Ojanen, Jacqueline Jere-Folotiya, Stella Damaris Ngorosho, Francis Sampa, Pamela February, Flora Malasi, Jonathan Munachaka, Christopher Yalukanda, Kenneth Pugh and Robert Serpel
8. Entering into the Written Culture to Overcome Inequalities: Teaching Literacy to Children from Vulnerable Communities
Alejandra Medina
9. Those Children Who Are Left Behind: A Reading Programme That Works
Beatriz Diuk
10. We Want to Learn: A Programme for the Linguistic, Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Development of Young Children in Argentina
Ana María Borzone and Mariela Vanesa De Mier
11. Powerful Reforms in Early Language and Literacy Instruction in India
Shailaja Menon, Sajitha S. K., Neela Apte, Abha Basargekar and Ramachandar Krishnamurthy

Part 2: Improving Learning Outcomes in Early Grade Reading and Writing in Burkina Faso, Niger, and Senegal: Insights from A UNESCO IBE Project

12. Integrating Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning Materials to Improve Learning Outcomes in Early Grade Reading: A Common Goal for Burkina Faso, Niger, and Senegal
Amapola Alama
13. Teaching and learning to Read and Write in a Multilingual Context: Burkina Faso, Niger, and Senegal
Bernard Schneuwly, Sandrine Aeby Daghé, Irina Leopoldoff, Glaís Sales Cordeiro, Thérèse Thévenaz-Christen and Simon Toulou
14. Teaching Reading in Burkina Faso: Improving Reading and Writing Outcomes in the Early Years of Primary School
Sandrine Aeby Daghé, Irina Leopoldoff, Thérèse Thévenaz-Christen and Victor Yaméogo
15. Modules to Train Teachers to Teach Reading and Writing in Niger: From an Analysis of the Current Situation to a Collaborative Production of Tools for Teacher Education
Bernard Schneuwly, Simon Toulou and Maman Mallam Garba
16. Senegal: Improving Training to Bolster Reading and Writing Skills in French as a Second Language
Thérèse Thévenaz-Christen and Glaís Sales Cordeiro
Practitioners, policymakers, educators, and academics, concerned with improving early literacy outcomes.