Abracadabra (ABRA)


Implementing institution: Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance (CSLP), Concordia University

Country: Canada

Source: Education Endowment Foundation

Execution period: 2004 - in progress

Plataforma de Prácticas Efectivas:

Challenges

To help young readers master fundamental literacy skills, as well as engage their interest in reading and maintain their participation in the classroom.

Solution

An interactive, evidence-based online literacy tool designed for students, teachers, educators and parents.

Results

ABRA students achieve an equivalent reading progress of 2 to 3 additional months.

Abracadabra (ABRA) is an online learning module, based on practice and small working groups. It is the product of inter-institutional collaboration among various research centres, public authorities, education professionals and students in Canada. Thanks to the sponsorship of several non-profit organizations, the program was implemented as a pilot in 2004 and 2005 in Canadian schools, and after several redefinitions, it was replicated in Australia in 2010.

ABRA’s approach is based on the recommendations of the National Reading Panel, which has raised the need for literacy programs to be founded on a sound phonological foundation, i.e., the ability to relate words to corresponding groups of sounds. This has shown that students achieve better performance in reading.  Abracadabra has developed an online platform that offers resources and methodology to teachers, students and their parents.

More than 32 activities are included for comprehension and writing, all being adapted to the different levels of the student.  Students are separated into small working groups (from 3 to 5 students), which are supervised by a pedagogical assistant trained by the program team.  During 20 weeks, students develop their comprehension and writing skills through playful and interactive activities.

The Abracadabra platform provides the general methodology, as well as visual support materials and progress tracking tools, like, for instance, online testing. At the same time, students participate in non-platform-based activities – also for 20 weeks – that are implemented in the same way, but with written reading exercises. In order to achieve the best performance of teachers, the Abracadabra team trains them at the beginning of the program on the basic concepts of the methodology. In addition, teachers have continuous support, through the professional development module reserved for them on the platform, which includes communication techniques and playful pedagogy.

The results of the PISA 2012 tests place Canadian 15-year-olds in the world’s top positions in the categories of Science and Reading, above the average in Mathematics. In Canada, education is adapted to the territory. Each region has its own ministry of education, and education is compulsory and free of charge. The territories offer free pre-school education, which is attended by 95 per cent of pupils. Investment in education is at the OECD average of around 5.5% of GDP.

Between 2014 and 2015, the London School of Economics carried out an experimental study involving 1,884 students from 48 different schools in England in order to assess the effects of the Abracadabra program on reading skills. Three groups were formed in each school: one who received the entire ABRA intervention; another one only participated in non-platform-based activities (written exercises); and the last one took the traditional courses. The comparison of results in national reading test has shown a positive effect on intervention groups. Both groups 1 and 2 achieved between 2 and 3 months of progress, with greater impact for the group that did not have access to the platform.

The children who benefit from free school lunches, have had a progress of 5 months, which means that ABRA has a greater effect on children in conditions of economic vulnerability. ABRA costs are relatively low (£25.5 per pupil) in the first year, and nil in the second year of implementation.

The program represents a very appropriate innovation to combat reading difficulties in primary school children.

Link: http://abralite.concordia.ca/

Report: Ver informe

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