Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

A rejuvenated reading culture leading to Ofsted recognised impact

Davison CE High School for Girls, West Sussex

Davison CE High School for Girls have been using the complete literacy solution from Renaissance Learning UK since 2013. In the 2019/20 academic year, Laylah became the schools permanent LRC manager.

Laylah brought with her an aspiration and goal to enhance the school’s reading culture and ensure more students are reading for pleasure and academic opportunity in her new role. Since 2013 Davison CE High School for Girls has seen a steady rise in progress 8 scores for mainstream and disadvantaged pupils. Laylah wants to ensure that these high standards are maintained across the school and that all students can access cross-curricular resources confidently by acquiring proficiency in reading.

Empowering students to be confident readers

Laylah states that as a school, Davison High School for Girls have always been aware that reading is essential for students to do in examinations, not just English. However, she eludes that the school initially trialled Accelerated Reader (AR) and Star Reading (SR) and quickly started to see improved results in reading. These positive results ensured that both solutions soon became an integral part of the school’s strong reading culture. This reading culture includes daily reading activities such as ‘drop everything and read’ (DEAR) time, including staff! The school now incorporates reading at the centre of all students’ learning and educational experience.

Davison CE High School for Girls completed 24,087 Accelerated Reader quizzes from September 2019  – May 2021

Reading progress data made a big difference as the school continued its journey with Renaissance solutions, explains Laylah. This data subsequently lead to the school having a broader discussion around reading. Laylah outlines that, in a typical academic year, without the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, all staff were encouraged to read the same books as their students. Most staff, especially English teachers, take part in the joint reading activity. Laylah reveals that she even encourages staff to take the corresponding Accelerated Reader quiz on the book. Teachers taking part in AR quizzes consequently motivate students to do well on their quizzes to earn positive rewards and ‘beat the teacher’. Staff can earn badges, too, for their continued reading and AR quizzing. Sometimes teachers get a quiz question wrong, which encourages students to take the quiz and beat staff, explains Laylah.

“Star Reading plays a crucial role in the continued reading culture and success throughout the school.”

Laylah says that the school library now incorporates AR book labels. She organises all books by author name and AR reading level. Therefore, whenever a student asks Laylah for a specific book, she can immediately point them in the right direction based on the book’s corresponding reading level or author name. This organisation system makes book finding much more efficient in the library. Layah states that students know the system well, and they know how it works.

A good environment makes for good readers

Laylah reveals that the school now have a lovely library, refurbished several years ago. She says that students love the library as it has fantastic AR reading displays. Now, because of this association with reading all over the school, our pupils read a lot, Laylah declares. She admits that the school still has many reluctant readers, but there will often be breakthroughs with these students. For example, Laylah explains how she found a Manga series on AR, and some so many girls love reading Manga. Laylah explains that there are still some students who always stick to similar easy to read books. But she has different tactics to encourage these students to read other books of equal or slightly greater difficulty thanks to AR.

Davison CE High School for Girls achieved an 85% average Accelerated Reader quiz pass rate from September 2019  – May 2021

Laylah outlines how the new library induction process includes a presentation around AR book levels, navigating the library, rules and quizzing, which Laylah put together and presents herself. She gives each student a booklet on AR, which includes all the information about what the school expect from them the rewards they can earn by embracing the reading culture. Laylah emphasises that Accelerated Reader is an ongoing journey and can keep track of their development through years seven, eight, and nine. She notifies students that they can even use AR to look back and see how they’ve progressed, including seeing every book they’ve read since the start of their AR journey.

Laylah shares that students will have approximately twenty library lessons each year. If they start falling behind by October, staff will start an intervention programme early, so students don’t fall further behind on their targets.

Assessments pitched at just the right level

Laylah affirms that Star Reading plays a crucial role in the continued reading culture and success throughout the school. She refers to the diagnostic report after students have completed one of their termly assessments to analyse whether students are on track to meet their respective targets. In addition, Laylah can offer short books for students to quiz on during library lessons if a student has fallen heavily behind.

There are always students who struggle to engage with reading, claims Laylah, and Accelerated Reader and Star Reading. She can analyse why a student is disengaged or struggling with reading. Laylah elaborates that the school ensures that all assessment data is scrutinised rigorously, including gauging the change in each student’s ZPD score. Laylah regularly observes students who encounter new vocabulary that they don’t understand. Often they will not attempt to look up the word to understand the pronunciation or definition of it. Vocabulary knowledge is one of the main issues that Laylah wants to tackle in September. She feels this is a primary contributing factor as to why some students do not see growth.

“Star Assessments tell us we have many students who are at or above the school benchmark according to Star Assessment.”

Laylah shares that according to Star Assessment reports, the school get a certain amount of students who appears ‘in need of urgent intervention’. These students usually get additional support from the SEND department who offer appropriate intervention strategies to get them back on track. Similarly, Laylah shares that the school has many students at or above the school benchmark according to Star Assessment. She is confident that this is an accurate indication that these students are currently seeing growth in reading development. Laylah says she recently shared a report FrommSTar Assessments with her line Manager. This report pointed out the Studnet Growth Percentile column that illustrates student progress if they fall in the 35 – 60 percentile.

Encouraging students to go above and beyond their potential

Laylah divulges that the school encourage girls to try and push themselves to try reading more challenging books. She suggests that one of the main reasons for this is the reading level of exam papers. It’s eye-opening when you see English exam paper’s levels are 7.76 and physics exam paper is 10.6 Laylah states. She asserts that most students at or above benchmark will read books at a level of five or a six, so they want to encourage them to read higher-level books. However, in year eight, 47 students ‘on watch’ will soon need intervention to see growth reading development. Getting these students back on track has to be the priority, states Lyalah.

Laylah says the school has introduced myON, the digital library, to support ‘on watch’ students. She hopes these students will see growth at the end of the year with the additional reading resources and interactive support from myON. Laylah claims that the school has been supporting these students for a few weeks now, so staff are hopeful they will see a good result.

Davison CE High School for Girls achieved an average ZPD level of 7.43 from September 2019  – May 2021, meaning all students can confidently read at a minimum KS3 level.

Laylah explains that the school invested in myON due to lockdown effects as support students were still coming into the school throughout. Laylah suggests that myON removes the effort f reading for these students. She admits that myoN has a big impact on students who struggle to read at such a low level. For example, myON’s feature of reading the text aloud to these students while highlighting each corresponding word makes a huge difference in their reading engagement and proficiency.

Laylah is also a big advocate of the dictionary feature within myON, which provides a definition and synonymous of the selected word. She’s even created a tutorial video for students. Laylah states that there are plenty of texts to read on myON. Laylah suggests that if students get too far behind their target, she can set myON as homework to help them catch up.

Throughout lockdown, Laylah was still producing library lessons remotely. She states that this provided a place for students to continue reading and quizzing on their AR and myON books. With myON, Laylah could continuously monitor pupils’ reading progress and choices, which gave her a continuous picture of how students were engaging with reading throughput lockdown. In addition, she a good idea of which students would need additional help when they return to school.

“I’m confident that this is an accurate indication that these students are currently seeing growth in reading development.”

Laylah admits that the amount of hours students spent reading books on myON was incredible. She adds that she was setting myON homework every day for a lot of students. Any student behind or under 30% on target would set new texts and homework support remotely. Laylah notes that it was a huge help to have such great support from parents too. In her role as librarian, Laylah suggests that myON is so helpful because of the ability to monitor words read or engagement time for every student. Laylah states that any students that Star Assessments identify as behind in October will be set additional homework via myON to support them in the next academic year. Most importantly, Laylah remarks that many girls want to read anyway, so having myON with accessible texts on any device is a real treat for them.

Maintaining reading engagement as we advance

Laylah shares that one huge success the school have seen in the last couple of weeks which Laylah will now do this time every year has been the quizzing challenges. The quizzing challenges consist of students passing as many quizzes as they can in one hour. Laylah initially set this activity up to target weaker readers who were not engaging. But she claims it has worked well for all students. If students complete the challenge, they earn a lunch pass for a week. Laylah suggests that this quizzing challenge consists of reading short books, which some stronger readers can complete quickly. Still, the purpose of the challenge is to support and encourage weaker readers. Since Laylah set up the challenge, she has seen weaker readers read up to eight short books in one hour. She states that this shows students can achieve anything they put their mind to when they’re motivated and determined.

Davison CE High School for Girls read an average of 2,323 hours of myON books since August 2020.

External Statistics

  • Davison CE High School for Girls saw an increase in Progress 8 Score from 2017 – 2019, an increase of over + 79%, forecasting a continued increase of + 78.33% by 2021*
  • Davison CE High School for Girls saw an increase in Progress 8 Score for disadvantaged pupils from 2018 – 2019, an increase of over + 21%, forecasting a continued increase of + 45.95% by 2021*
  • Ofsted inspection observation November 2017 – ‘Additional pupil premium funding is now targeted carefully and extra help is making a positive difference to pupils’ progress. In 2017, the progress of disadvantaged pupils improved so that it was in line with that of other pupils nationally.’

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