Before and after measures make sense. We measure what a child can do, teach them, and measure again to see what they can do now.
It’s a functional way to work. But it’s not as useful as it could be. There are problems with this approach.
We’re only getting measures of changes in the child alone, as if each child, any child, acquires skills immune from the influence of the learning that they experience. We’re not taking into account the amount of teaching they have experienced, the number of skill practices they have completed, if they sit in class day after day getting 10/10 or 2/10.
By relying on before-after measures, we haven’t thought about ‘during’ measures. The after-measure is taken as the verdict on teaching effectiveness. But after-measures are retrospective. Time has passed. If a child does not achieve a change (an increase in the after-measure) then we have lost the opportunity to do anything about it and worse, we don’t know what factors we should adjust in order to maximise the opportunity for a child to be making progress.
Total Words data provides ‘during’ measures. Because Total Words analyses the factors that make effective learning, we can fill in the gap between before and after. Three things happen.
Teachers learn what works. Does this child need more practices, books that give them more scope to learn, simply read more words each?
Children learn that they can be in control of their progress, of their achievements. They can work with teachers, parents, siblings in learning partnerships sharing the analysis that tells them how they can make progress.
The learning process itself is what matters most. Teachers have data showing the impact of their teaching. Teachers can make decisions based on the ‘needs’ of the learning process itself. One child may need 6 practices to read a book with 100% accuracy and fluent reading speed. Another child may need 2 practices. Teachers can make decisions based on data that show how to maximise teaching effectiveness. Children and their parents, see what the learning process requires in order to make progress. Learning to read, requires effective practices.