The Evidence Base for PLD

Evidence based teaching is now the expected norm within Australian schools. For Australian education standards to meet national and international benchmarks, it is imperative that schools utilise programs and processes which are supported by research. This ensures schools are investing in what will produce results rather than just implementing what is a ‘fad’, appealing, or what has been done for years.

PLD’s Approach

PLD’s Structured Synthetic Phonics (SSP) approach is based on international research and our resources are continually upgraded as new research becomes available. In addition it is important to us that our programs are being independently assessed by third party researchers. Research shows that when PLD programs are used in schools, and when educators are provided with the associated PLD training, significant, measurable differences occur. We would like to share with you three pieces of evidence based research across three different education scenarios that show the difference that PLD can make to student outcomes.

Underpins High Performance

Professor William Louden’s 2015 study, “High Performing Primary Schools: What do they have in common?” selected nine top performing schools based on their NAPLAN results and reviewed their plans and procedures. Several common characteristics emerged, including lower variation teaching and the use of explicit teaching strategies for teaching phonological awareness and phonics. The majority of the schools had adopted methods that promoted ‘lower-variation’ in teaching, and had:

  • developed scope and sequence progressions,
  • introduced specific mandated resources and assessment tools
  • established achievement targets for each term and year.

PLD received significant mentions in this research. You can find a summary of the research here and the whole article here.
Louden’s findings supported the adoption of a whole school approach to literacy, the use of explicit and direct literacy instruction, the use of a structured synthetics phonics program (of which PLD’s program was mentioned as a preferred resource) and the implementation of regular assessment and student learning targets. PLD’s literacy resources incorporate and support these recommendations with suggestions for whole school implementation, monitoring of student progress and structured synthetic phonics instruction.

Supporting Children with Learning Challenges

AUSPELD is a national body comprised of representatives from state SPELD associations and a recognised Global Partner of the International Dyslexia Association. AUSPELD provides recommendations of evidence-based programs that are based on the current research available linking them to improved academic results and the support of independent reviews of a programs effectiveness.
AUSPELD recommends a three tier approach to implementing structured synthetic phonics in schools, as explained in the graphic below:

Evidence Base for PLD

PLD has been identified by AUSPLED as a recommended wave 1 (whole class) program and a wave 2 (small group) evidence-based structured synthetic phonics program.
Wave 1: Quality First Teaching

  • Daily high quality instruction.
  • Aiming to provide the best start for the majority and reduce the number of students requiring wave 2 and 3.

Wave 2: Additional Intervention

  • Ideally early intervention.
  • Short-term instruction.
  • Enabling students to acquire age appropriate skills.

AUSPELD recommends PLD’s literacy range as it utilises a systematic sequence of teaching synthetic phonics and includes phoneme-grapheme teaching, reading and writing (dictation) activities and the introduction of high frequency, phonetically irregular words.
In 2019, the Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation of WA published a comparison of eight recommended evidence-based Structured Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programs of which PLD features as one of the recommended evidence-based programs. Read how PLD compares here.


Literacy Improvements in Remote Schools

In 2011, Speech Pathology Australia wrote a case study (found here) on the significant progress that was shown in a remote school, with students going from non-readers to readers very rapidly once alphabet sounds and phonemic awareness was systematically targeted using PLD’s approach to literacy instruction.
Like many remote indigenous schools, the Rawa Community School within the Pilbara region of Western Australia faced challenges such as limited access to support services and resources, irregular school attendance, hearing difficulties from chronic ear infections, and English as students’ second, third or even fourth language.
The traditional approach to teaching literacy with a print/word focus made it extremely difficult for students to learn and retain literacy skills. In addition, teachers may have limited training in literacy and learning difficulties and found it challenging to work with groups containing students with varying literacy skills.
PLD’s program concentrated on developing key speaking and listening skills such as sound awareness and language comprehension which resulted in immediate improvements in students reading, spelling and writing skills. Focusing on oral language and phonological awareness, and teaching students to blend and segment words based on sounds resulted in significant gains in literacy skills which were maintained over time.
Before the PLD program was introduced, 100 percent of the junior primary students were assessed as non-readers. After just one year using the PLD program, this was reduced to 64 percent. Prior to the programs introduction, the majority of the 70 students at the school were non readers, with only 25 percent reading within one year of their reading age. By the end of the first year, 86 percent of students were reading within one year of their reading age.
Another part of the PLD program focused on providing training for teachers and educational support staff. This equipped teaching staff with the skills and knowledge to carry out language and literacy based programs within their classrooms.


Evidence for Synthetic Phonics

PLD programs are supported by current research, and have been shown to be effective in producing improved literacy skills.
In choosing to use PLD’s programs, schools are investing in what will produce results and in programs based on current research.
Interested in learning more about how PLD can be used at your school?

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