How joining a reading programme improves student achievement and attainment outcomes

During the 2014-15 academic year, Oxford University Press undertook a study to evaluate the impact of a reading programme called Read On! in schools throughout Italy. Using both quantitative and qualitative data, the study concluded that the Read On! project:

  • Improves students' attainment and achievment.
  • Improves students' attitudes to reading and learning English.
  • Supports teachers.
  • Fosters inclusion in the mixed ability classroom.

Read On extensive reading project Learn English

Read On! is an English language project on extensive reading carried out by Oxford University Press with support from the British Council and the British Embassy in Italy. It began in 2011 and the goals of helping learners to read for pleasure to improve their language and literacy. Read On! promotes learning that is centred around the student and teaches teachers to build classrooms that use a communicative methodology using a range of OUP graded reading books.

Extensive reading - what is it?

If you read a story which is slightly below your language level then you are reading "extensively". You might not know every word or all the grammar, but overall you understand it and enjoy what you are reading. Both fiction or non-fiction books can be written as graded readers. If you have a choice of story types or topic and language level then you can choose something that you will both enjoy and that will consolidate your English vocabulary and language structure.  And what is really great is that this learning happens without you having to study something difficult or that you are not interested in!

Results of the Impact Study

Students in the study made noticeable improvements in their reading ability and level of English.  Students were given the Oxford Online Placement Test before and after the project and improvements on average were seen of 13.22%.  81 students (27%) experienced an increase in their Common European Framework Level (MetaMetrics, 2015).

Students also thought that their English skills had improved with faster reading, and better vocabulary. Daniela, a student from high school Garibaldi in Rome, said that her vocabulary had developed: ‘[Read On!] let me learn new words that I did not know before, new things that I would use Google translator or a dictionary to find, but I wouldn’t ever remember them. Now I do.’

Graded readers also acted as a bridge to help learners read higher level books in English and Italian. Liliana, studying at Da Vinci in Potenza, noted: ‘Before [Read On!], when I saw a thick book – even an Italian one – I would think “oh my! I have to read this all?” Instead, having read books in English, it’s also easier to read books in Italian.’

The Read On! project also helped to influence attitudes in those who already liked reading. For instance, Alberta in Potenza reported that she now likes reading in English as much as reading in Italian. Students who did not like reading before the project were less likely to see a change in their attitude toward reading.  However, some changes for the better were identified in those who didn't like reading much. An example was Emanuele, from Righi in Rome who said that ‘before I don’t read so much […] But, with Read On!, I was more motivated to read and know something about the literatures of other continents.’

For more information about Read On! and these results, please click to read the full impact study results.