Case Study: Upwey South Primary School, Victoria

MultiLit in action

Based on extensive research into how children learn to read, MultiLit has been supporting educators to provide effective literacy instruction for more than 30 years. This case study demonstrates how MultiLit programs are having a significant impact: both in building teachers’ knowledge and capacity and lifting student learning outcomes.

Upwey South Primary School, Victoria

Upwey South Primary School, based at the foothills of Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges, has reported substantial growth in students’ literacy achievement since partnering with MultiLit five years ago.

In 2019, the school introduced MultiLit’s InitiaLit program across Foundation to Year 2 in a bid to ensure whole-class instruction was evidence-based and consistent across the school. This was supplemented with MiniLit – MultiLit’s intervention program for students who require additional support to build essential language and reading skills required to become proficient readers – and participation in a trial of the recently released SpellEx program.

The results of implementing a Response to Intervention framework, which ensures the provision of high-quality, explicit instruction to all students in class as well as increasingly intensive levels of assistance depending on students’ individual rate of progress, have been nothing short of remarkable.

Between 2017 and 2022, Upwey South’s average Year 3 NAPLAN reading score rose 70 points, almost 10 times the average rate of improvement statewide. For writing, scores improved by 48 points, compared to a two-point bump for the state, while in spelling, the school’s average score increased 68 points compared to the state average, which bumped three points higher.

The 2022 NAPLAN results placed the school among the top five for literacy achievement in its region.

“That was a significant year for us in that our Year 3 students had benefited from three years of evidence-based reading instruction as part of a Response to Intervention model,” said Upwey South principal Damien Kitch.

“Before we started working with MultiLit, we were probably a bit too reactive, waiting for something to go wrong and then putting out spot fires.

“Rolling out InitiaLit forced us to become more proactive: we were providing consistent, high-quality instruction to all our Prep, Year 1 and 2 students and there was a confidence in knowing there was a Plan B or a Plan C in cases where students weren’t progressing at the rate they should.

“These NAPLAN scores were a welcome validation of our new approach and its potential to lift literacy outcomes for our students across the board.”

While families have been thrilled by their children’s learning outcomes – 78 per cent of Year 3 students achieved in the top two proficiency bands in the 2023 NAPLAN results, while for writing, it was 97 per cent – there’s an untold story in the impact on school staff, many of whom were required to change their approaches to teaching reading.

“Our educational philosophy is underpinned by our guiding principles: evidence-based learning, responsiveness, consistency, predictability, and orderliness,” Mr Kitch said.

“But these alone don’t achieve good outcomes for students unless everyone is on board, especially the teachers.

“Trust is often an overlooked ingredient when it comes to looking at the dynamics of a successful school. Do the teachers trust that changes are for the right reasons, and that they will produce the right outcomes? Do they trust that they are receiving the proper support required to change their approach and have a positive impact in the classroom? And importantly, do they trust each other?

“We’re happy to report that trust levels have risen considerably among our teachers and I think that comes down to the fact they are an empowered workforce who can see that what they are doing has great benefit for students.”

To find out more about MultiLit programs, resources and professional development for educators, please visit our website or contact [email protected]

Enjoyed this case study? Read about Toowoomba Anglican School in Queensland.

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