What’s the DART project about?

DART logoWe know that 25% of children leave primary school without being able to read properly. If we can find out early which children might struggle to learn to read, schools can give them extra help, so they don’t fall behind.

At the DART project, we are looking at different ways to find out which children might be struggling with reading. We are measuring reading ability using dynamic assessments. A dynamic assessment measures a child’s learning potential, rather than what they already know. We think measuring a child’s potential to learn different skills needed for reading could be a better way to see which children might struggle. The dynamic assessments used in the DART project are learning games that are carried out on a computer.

We are looking at three different skills that are important for reading: decoding (learning letter sounds), sight-word learning (learning spelling patterns) and vocabulary (learning new words).

What is a dynamic assessment?

Normal assessments of reading measure what a child has learned so far. These tests can be problematic for children who come from different backgrounds. For example, if a child speaks a different language at home, they might know fewer English words and have difficulty understanding a story. A standard assessment of reading could identify that child as having a reading disorder when they don’t have one. A dynamic assessment measures a child’s learning potential, rather than how many words or spellings they know on the day of the test. The dynamic assessments used in the DART project are learning games that are carried out on a computer.

The DART project is funded by the Nuffield Foundation (http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/identifying-children-risk-reading-disorder)