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Teachers beliefs and practices for the teaching of writing in the New Zealand elementary school: influences on student progress

ABSTRACT In the present study, the effects of teachers’ beliefs and practices about writing pedagogy on students' progress were investigated in the context of the New Zealand primary school system. A total of 626 teachers completed a survey on their beliefs and practices. Principal component analysis of beliefs isolated three dimensions, reflecting valuation of (i) explicit, (ii) socio-cultural and (iii) process-writing approaches. Analysis of the practices data isolated six dimensions: (i) explicit and structured approaches; (ii) socio-cultural and process writing approaches; (iii) attention to surface features; (iv) advanced writing practices; (v) basic writing practices, and (vi) teacher goal selection. Next, a sub-sample of 19 survey respondents supplied writing samples from their students, at two time points, allowing for the measurement of progress over time. Associations between teachers’ scale locations for reported beliefs and practices, and their students’ progress were explored. Explicit teaching beliefs and practices were positively correlated with progress and socio-cultural practices were negatively correlated with progress. Our findings support the use of explicit methods for the teaching of writing and cast some doubt over the efficacy of constructivist approaches.

Investigating the number and type of literacy assessments and interventions in Aotearoa New Zealand primary schools

ABSTRACT In Aotearoa New Zealand, the lack of government funding and support for interventions beyond Reading Recovery means that assessment and support for students demonstrating literacy difficulties are primarily left to schools themselves. To meet the needs of students, including those demonstrating difficulties with literacy learning, schools and teachers must have assessments and interventions that can identify and meet the needs of those students. Currently, there is a lack of research on the nature of assessments and interventions used by schools and their confidence in using these to meet the needs of students, including those with literacy learning difficulties. In the current study, we surveyed schools about the types of assessments used to identify literacy difficulties and the interventions provided to students. Results indicated a wide range of assessments and interventions used in schools, but the identified interventions often failed to meet the criteria for intervention (teacher-led, based on specific needs), and assessments were often unlikely to provide information about specific literacy difficulties. Overall, the variability of interventions and assessments indicated a lack of consistency in the identification of students with literacy learning difficulties and, in the interventions, provided to support these students.