I probably go on about attitude a lot. Maybe too much sometimes for some people but for me attitude and especially attitude in regards to reading is like gold dust. It’s the holy grail of reading success in my mind. Yet it’s the one thing that always seems to get forgotten about when other people talk about reading. But to do so is surely to the detriment of the child? To ignore the massively important impact that attitude is towards reading success shows the ignorance of what it entails to create a reader.
And this is exactly what I wanted to be able to show to our students and to English departments that I am working with. I wanted to show them that attitude is the starting block for anyone as a reader and that as a student’s attitude positively increases so does their odds of becoming a successful reader as well as their proficiency of reading.
People that know our library know that we use a completely different approach to reading and tracking readers across the school. It has been through this system that we have been able to show this distinction. Having tracked the students in this way for the last five years we can show through our data how a student’s attitude positively impacts on their reading abilities and the chances that they will become a successful reader.
We used the data from the first two year 7 groups we started tracking. These students are now in 10 and 11 respectively. We wanted to see how their attitude at the beginning of the school year, when they were in year 7, had impacted on their chances of being readers now they were in KS4. Upon entry in the school and at the end of the year we have students fill in an ‘Attitude to Reading’ survey. This asks the students a number of pertinent questions that we can use to gauge what their attitude might be. We then grade the students 1-4 based on the Ofsted criteria. We do this for a number of reasons. One being that this data and out other tracking gets shared with staff across the school, especially English and form tutors so we needed to find a language that would be easy for other people to understand so it wasn’t a case of trying to decipher this language as well as what it actually meant.
Once we have identified what the students’ Attitude to Reading grade is we will then put specific strategies into place to make sure that we help them turn any negative attitudes into positive ones. At the end of the year we then give them the survey again and hope to be able to see the impact our work has had on changing their attitudes. Using this beginning of Yr7 data then gives us their starting point in school and a really good marker on how these students entered the school. As they progress through the year we continue to track the students through their attitude, library usage (although by no means a satisfactory indicator on its own) their English levels etc.
Basically when they are in Yr11 we have an idea of their proficiency in and whether they are readers for pleasure or not.
Using this comparison from when they were in Yr7 to Yr11 meant we could start to see whether there was a correlation between a student’s attitude and the chances of being a reader in later school life. The results were as we had expected but they were still fascinating to see. In the current yr 11s initial attitude to reading results we saw 24% of students had an attitude to reading graded as a 3 or 4. Basically they didn’t read, didn’t enjoy reading etc. Of those 24% (48 students) when they got to yr11 30 of them still regarded themselves as non-readers and their low attitude to reading grades remained. Looking at other data we noted that these students were also all predicted under a grade C for English as well as not making the required levels of progress across KS2-4. Their reading ages hadn’t improved at the same rate as those students that had a positive attitude to reading at the beginning of yr7 and were in general behind in all aspects compared to these students.
We then decided to look into more detail at the 18 students who had initially in yr7 had a low attitude but now in yr11 had a positive attitude. It was very interesting to see how over the years these students attitudes had changed and so had their progress in reading and English. These became the students that we wanted to show our new yr7s as they were a perfect example of the impact a change of attitudes to reading could have. The more we looked into each of the 18 students the clearer the link between reading, achievement and success became. At the point where a change of attitude could be seen we also saw a marked improvement in reading ages and English levels. All the students were also making the progress expected of them from their KS2 levels in English, importantly it could be seen that before their attitude change they weren’t making the expected progress.
Showing this to our new yr7 intake has been brilliant. We explain to them that we want to help them discover a love of reading and to have a positive attitude to reading but we show them, from actual students in their school, the impact this can have on their chances of becoming successful at reading.
For someone wishing to get something like this working in their own school it is important to know the importance of attitude. However it is only the first step. What you need to think about is how you might be able to put this in place across the whole school and the conditions you need to achieve something like this. This however, is happily available in my previous posts on my Hierarchy of Reading, certainly worth a look!