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Sharing our progress: 2-6 reading comprehension

I have decided to share some of our data sets across the next 12 months. These data sets will hopefully continue to show our ongoing impact as we seek be a school that (i) invests as much in its teachers as it does in its students, and (ii) supports our students to reach their academic and social potentials.

For context, we are a new primary school in inner-city Melbourne. We are in our second year of operation. We have a close to average ICSEA value and approximately 65% of our students speak English as an additional language. We have just over 400 students now, with more than half of those students in Foundation and Grade 1 (the first two years of school).

Our Grade 2-6 reading comprehension data set is informed by the following:

Core subject curriculum

Core Knowledge English Language Arts (F-5), History and Geography (F-6) and Science (F-5) all adapted for the Australian context, Docklands Primary School text curriculum (F-6), Reading Reconsidered curriculum (5-6)

Core literacy curriculum

Sounds-Write (F-2 phonics), Spelling Mastery (3-6), oral reading fluency routines (F-6)

Time allocation

Core literacy (1.5-5 hours per week), English (5-7.5 hours per week), Humanities (2-3 hours per week), Science (2 hours per week)


We have knowledge/language/text rich classrooms. Our instruction is explicit and there is high student participation in each class. Lessons include reading and discussing texts using many instructional techniques and models from Questioning the Author and Reading Reconsidered, Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary instruction and embedded writing instruction.


DIBELS Maze (reading comprehension) is completed three times per year as part of our Response to Intervention framework universal screening process. It is cross-checked with PAT Reading and NAPLAN data.

DIBELS Maze (reading comprehension) % at/above benchmark: Only students who have had one full year of our curriculum and have completed all benchmarks

Table 1: Grade level gains (measuring the cumulative impact of our curriculum/instruction)

Table 2: Measuring cohort growth as they move through the school

DIBELS Maze (reading comprehension) % at/above benchmark: All students at Docklands Primary School who have attended in 2021-22 (enrolled when we opened + joined during 2021 + enrolled to start in 2022)

Table 3: Grade level gains (measuring the cumulative impact of our curriculum)

Table 4: Measuring cohort growth as they move through the school


Given many cohorts have grown during our first year of operation, they no longer resemble the original cohorts in terms of size or ability (some have doubled in size). The accuracy of total enrolments/whole school grade (Table 3) and cohort (Table 4) data is impacted by when the students joined us and whether their abilities were above or below those of their peers when they joined. Overall, the trend is upward and significantly so, so there is some use in tracking at this level, but sub-group analysis in Table 1 and Table 2 are more accurate measures of our impact for now, until our enrolments stabilise.

Given (i) reading comprehension can be slow to improve even with sustained effort and (ii) many of our students joined our school a number of years behind grade level, the goal I had set for us in our first 12 months was for 5-10% growth across grades. We have exceeded that. I am so proud of the team and what we have achieved, especially because our first year was marked by several lockdowns/remote learning periods and our teachers took on new/unfamiliar curricula and instructional methods/routines. We look forward to less disruption in 2022 and beyond.

The aim for 2022 is to continue to improve both grade and cohort data. While this data is only one point of confirmation from one assessment, we are really pleased with these preliminary findings. Realistically, it will take us another 2-4 years to lift the majority of our students to grade level, and enact/embed all aspects of our intended curriculum. For now it is progress over perfection, and we are optimistic that we can have real impact if we follow the evidence and ensure all students access high quality core curriculum and instruction.

More information about what we do

You can watch Brad Nguyen (Learning Specialist and Classroom Teacher) discuss our knowledge-rich approach.

You can watch me discuss our English and literacy approach.

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