Structured after school support and its impact on reading age

Description of the innovation

Our evaluation investigated a structured after-school reading club and its impact on reading age. The intervention was delivered to disadvantaged pupils in Year 7, in four schools in Suffolk.

The innovation comprised of two reading sessions per week for 25 weeks. One session focused on reading and comprehension of text. The second session focused on developing study skills – in particular pupils’ ability to research and carry out enquiries in a range of curriculum areas.

Summary of the evaluation

Disadvantaged pupils in Year 7 in four schools in Suffolk participated in the evaluation. Three of the participating schools would be classed as rural, whereas the fourth school would be classed as more urban. All pupil premium pupils in Year 7 in all four participating schools were tested using Access Reading Test interactive (ARTi) (McCarty & Swift, 2007) to give a baseline score for reading age in September 2018. The ARTi reading test provided a reading age together with a score for literal comprehension, vocabulary, inference and analysis.

Pupils who achieved a reading age at or below their chronological reading age, along with pupils who showed weaknesses in the ARTi skills for literal comprehension, vocabulary, analysis or inference were invited to take part in the intervention.

After obtaining consent, 27 pupils were allocated to an intervention group and 27 were allocated to a control group. Pupils allocated to the intervention group were given two sessions a week focusing on the reading and comprehension of text alongside developing study skills in a range of subject areas (history, geography and science). Pupils in the control group did not get any after-school reading support.

Following the intervention the ARTi test was administered again to see how the evaluation had affected reading age in the two groups.

For analysis purposes, comparisons between the intervention and control group were made as follows:

  • Reading age of the whole sample, boys and girls at pre-test and post-test.
  • Scores in subtests from ARTi test (literal comprehension, vocabulary, inference, and analysis skills) at the pre- and post-test.

Reading age for intervention group pupils with different levels of attendance (100%, 99%–90%, 89%–80%, 80% and below) was also analysed to see whether a particular attendance subgroup made greater progress.

Summary of findings

Our research found that the After-School Structured Reading Project had a positive impact on reading age, as measured by ARTi. Over the course of the evaluation, the additional mean progress in reading in months was +8.67 when comparing the intervention group with the control group. This produced a small but positive effect size (+0.34).

The data produced through ARTi to measure reading age did show substantial increases and decreases in reading age for individual pupils thus producing a healthy sceptism of the validity of data produced. The data did, however, show that the intervention group made more progress than the control group in overall reading age and all subtests of the ARTi and when coupled with the suggested increase in confidence and self-esteem through pupil interviews, it could be argued that the intervention shows promise, although a larger scale evaluation of the approach would be beneficial.

Lead school

  • Northgate High School, Ipswich

Main findings

  • Effect size for pupil progress in reading age = +0.34


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