Evaluation of the Phase 2 Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan, 2017-2020: Final report

This evaluation was originally published 24 May 2022.

Image: Evaluation of the Phase 2 Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan, 2017-2020: Final report

Summary

Background

The NSW Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan (LNAP) is a cross-sector initiative which aimed to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of students in Kindergarten to Year 2 by focusing on four key pillars: instructional leadership, diagnostic assessment, differentiated teaching, and tiered interventions. LNAP has been supported by $601 million provided by the NSW Government between 2012 and 2020 and delivered in two phases. Phase 1 was implemented from 2012-2016 and involved 448 schools, while Phase 2 ran from 2017-2020 involving 670 schools: 533 government, 99 Catholic, and 38 independent Action Plan schools.

Evaluation

The Institute for Public Policy and Governance, UTS, was contracted by the NSW Department of Education to conduct an evaluation of LNAP Phase 2 over a three-year period. The evaluation addressed the implementation of LNAP Phase 2 and examined the extent to which the initiative achieved desired outcomes for teaching staff, schools and students. As COVID-19 occurred during Phase 2, the evaluation also addressed the extent to which LNAP Phase 2 supported schools to manage its impact.

Key findings

LNAP was designed to enable each of the three sectors (government, Catholic, and independent), and their individual schools, to implement LNAP with some flexibility to address specific needs and context. The evaluation identified the following key findings:

LNAP was implemented well, as planned, and its main components have been widely adopted by Action Plan (AP) schools
  • LNAP Phase 2 was well implemented and in line with the sectoral implementation plans. Each of its key components are in place in all participating AP schools.
  • Schools appreciated the ability to implement LNAP with some flexibility, particularly in the provision of instructional leadership (IL).
The implementation of LNAP Phase 2 improved practices at the school and system level
  • Through the IL role, teachers have:
    • Been supported to develop knowledge and skills in using student assessment data to inform teaching and planning, and in selecting appropriate differentiated approaches for their students.
    • Taken increased collective responsibility for student growth, become more willing to open up their classrooms for observation, feedback and team teaching, and engaged in more consistent use of meta-language and shared practices.
  • Professional learning, through newly established networking opportunities, was identified as valuable by instructional and school leadership staff.
  • LNAP Phase 2 facilitated increased collaboration across the three school sectors.
LNAP cannot be associated with improved student learning outcomes when measured by NAPLAN scores
  • Despite the positive findings in terms of teacher, school and system outcomes, the evaluation did not find any specific impact on student learning outcomes using NAPLAN scores as the measure.
Three opportunities for further consideration were highlighted by the evaluation:
  • Careful negotiation and shared understanding are needed at the school level to navigate how the IL role fits within existing staffing structures.
  • According to school leaders, IL staff need more time and further opportunities to improve teachers’ effective use of diagnostic assessment for identifying appropriate tiered interventions and differentiation practices.
  • Recruitment and retention challenges for IL staff need to be addressed with consideration for the sustainability of IL roles in the future.
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