Outcome evaluation of the Kirklees Paired Reading Project
The impact of services to help schools to guide and support parents (and peer tutors) in the use of the Paired Reading technique for improving children's reading was evaluated. Compared to all studies previously reported in the literature taken together, the Kirklees research yielded more than double the volume of pre-post norm referenced outcome data, double the amount of control or comparison group data and triple the amount of follow-up data. Additionally, in Kirklees baseline data were compared with pre-post data to give a time series comparison. Although outcomes on reading tests were slightly less favourable than those selectively reported in the previous literature, the research suggested that an adequate level of effectiveness was possible in a large field study incorporating many schools in one Local Education Authority, representing a significant test of the generalisability and replicability of the technique. The Kirklees study also examined the influence of a number of organisational, demographic and within-subject factors as they related to outcomes. In addition a very large volume of subjective feedback from teacher, parent and child participants was collected in a systematic way, and proved extremely positive. The research also examined the inter-relationship of the various outcome measures deployed with a view to assessing their relative reliability and validity for this purpose. As very few process data were gathered it was not possible to demonstrate what proportion of participants actually utilised the Paired Reading technique in the way they were trained. It is thus difficult to partial out to what extent the positive outcomes are due to the impact of the technique and/or the service delivery support package. However, the technique and service delivery package combined are suggested by the data to be associated with improvements in children's reading skill and attitude to reading. The study provides a number of pointers to the probable success of the Paired Reading approach but conclusive evidence on this must await the findings of properly controlled studies.