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 modern 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 structured synthetic phonics approach is based on current research and 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. The research shows that PLD programs when used in schools with the proper training, resources and execution makes a significant and real difference in student learning. 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.

Synthetic Phonics 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 lower variation teaching in which schools had developed scope and sequence progressions, the introduction of specific mandated resources and assessment and achievement targets were established for each term and year. Among the mandated resources utilised within these schools were the synthetic phonics resources of which PLD’s literacy resources were one of the most used.

Louden found all of the high performing schools used explicit teaching strategies for teaching phonological awareness and phonics. In addition, common across all schools was a synthetic phonics approach.

“Synthetic phonics is a systematic approach to teaching reading by beginning with sounds (phonemes) and blending (synthesising) these sounds to make words. All of the case study schools have implemented synthetic phonics programs in the early years…PLD Literacy and Learning… teach{es} phonemes (letter and digraph sounds), letter formation, blending of sounds together to form new words, segmenting sounds to read and write new words, and teaching specific ‘tricky words’ with irregular spelling.”

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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.

Synthetic Phonics Supports Children with Learning Challenges

Evidence Base for PLD

The Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation of WA (DSF) provides support to children and adults with learning disabilities and dyslexia. In addition, DSF provides advice and support for families and educators on evidence based practice and the strategies most likely to result in successful literacy acquisition. AUSPELD is a national body comprised of representatives from state SPELD associations including DSF and a recognised Global Partner of the International Dyslexia Association. DSF and AUSPELD cite recommendations of particular programs that are based on the current evidence available linking the program to improved academic results and the support of independent reviews of a programs effectiveness. PLD has also been identified by DSF (and all Dyslexia SPELD Foundations around the country) as a recommended wave 1 (whole class) program and a wave 2 (small group) program. Read more HERE.

Students with specific learning disabilities and dyslexia require extra support, often targeting specific areas, to ensure they develop appropriate literacy skills.  DSF and AUSPELD support the use of synthetic phonics programs because they are based on strong independent research and provide the best opportunity for the development of literacy skills. Both DSF and AUSPELD recommend PLD’s literacy program 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, DSF published a comparison of eight recommended evidence-based Structured Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programs of which PLD’s literacy program was one. Read how PLD compares HERE.

Synthetic Phonics Drives Literacy 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 Based Learning Programs in your school

As evidenced by the above, PLD offers programs which are supported by modern research and which 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. For further discussion of whether our education system is keeping up with current research, see HERE.