Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Catch Up® Literacy

Evidence level:
 
Evidence of effectiveness:
? - 0 + ++
Transferability:
? - 0 + ++
Enduring impact:
? - 0 +

Project overview

Catch Up® Literacy is a UK-based, structured, book-based, one-to-one literacy intervention for learners aged 6 to 14 who experience reading difficulties. Its main objective is to improve word recognition and language comprehension skills for children who have been struggling to learn to read. The intervention is based on providing children who are facing reading challenges with one-to-one, 15 minutes (individual support) sessions, twice a week. 

The Catch Up Literacy intervention is divided into four stages. In the first stage, assessments for learning are conducted in order to identify the focus for intervention and thus target it to the needs of the individual child. In the second stage, a book with the appropriate level of difficulty is chosen; the choice is informed by the outcomes of the assessment conducted in stage one.  In the third stage, the child attends two 15-minute individual sessions per week, during which the child reads the chosen book and then undertakes a related writing activity which addresses one of the identified miscues. Finally, in the fourth stage, the child’s progress is continuously monitored to ensure that the intervention keeps on fulfilling the child’s changing needs.

Practice category

  • Helping Vulnerable Children

Recommendation pillars

  • Improve education systems’ impact on equal opportunities

Countries that have implemented practice

  • United Kingdom

Age groups

  • Teenagers (age 13 to 19),
  • Middle Childhood (age 6 to 12)

Target groups

  • Children,
  • Children/teenagers with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Years in operation

  • 2000  - still operating

Type of organisation implementing practice

  • Private Education Organization

Evidence of effectiveness

Evaluation 1 

The evaluation uses data provided by 27 English and Welsh local authorities and contains information on the pre- and post- intervention standardized reading tests (the Salford Sentence Reading tests; conducted by teaching staff) for a total of 3134 pupils who have been identified as ‘struggling readers.’ The students participated in the Catch Up Literacy intervention between the years 2002 and 2010. In order to estimate the gain in Reading Age achieved by participating in the Catch Up Literacy Programme, an independent t-test analysis has been conducted.

Holmes, W., Reid, D., and Dowker, A., Early intervention to prevent long-term literacy difficulties: the case of Catch Up Literacy, Procedia - Social and Behavioural Sciences, Vol. 46 (2012), pp. 4498 – 4503. 

Summary of Results for Evaluation 1 

 

n

3134

At start of intervention

Mean age in months

86.51 (SD = 10.09)

Mean Reading Age in months

64.23 (SD = 13.23)

Mean duration of   intervention in months

 

7.33 (SD = 2.30)

At end of intervention

Mean   Reading Age in months

82.73 (SD = 15.76)

Mean gain in Reading Age

18.50 (SD = 9.99)

Ratio gain*

2.74 (SD = 1.74)

 

Furthermore, a sub-sample of the dataset consisting of 185 children has been tracked since the reception of the intervention in 2003 (at the age of 7 approximately). The progress of those children has been evaluated in three periods of time: a year following the intervention, 3 years later and 7 years following the intervention. The results indicated that one year after the intervention the children achieved a 12 months reading gain (which equals to the progress expected of typically achieving children); after 3 years 67% of the children in the sample achieved Level 4 (which is the expected UK national curriculum for 10 years old pupils); and after 7 years 89% of the children included in the sample achieved the 10.2 years score (in the Salford Sentence Reading test) which is the ceiling’s test.

Evaluation 2 

The second evaluation uses a sample of 87 pupils (aged 12 to 14) who have been identified as ‘struggling readers’ by their teachers in six secondary schools in City of Nottingham local authority, UK. Those pupils have been randomly assigned to a treatment (n=20) and control (n=67) groups. Pupils in the former group have received the Catch Up Literacy intervention while the ones belonging to the latter have been subject to an alternative literacy support. Children belonging to both groups have had their Reading Ages measured before and after (i.e. 4 months later) the intervention took place and the differences in the means for both groups have been compared using independent t-tests.

Holmes, W., Reid, D., and Dowker, A., Early intervention to prevent long-term literacy difficulties: the case of Catch Up Literacy, Procedia - Social and

Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 46 (2012), pp. 4498 – 4503.

Summary of Results for Evaluation 2 

 

 

Treatment   Group

Control   Group

 

n

20

65

At start of intervention

Mean Reading Age in   months

85.7 (SD =   9.43)

88.92 (SD =   11.86)

Mean duration of   intervention in months

 

4.01

4.01

At end of intervention

Mean Reading Age in months

98.80 (SD =   13.88)

94.49 (SD =   12.85)

 

Mean gain in Reading Age

13.10 (SD =   8.71)

5.57 (SD =   8.73)

 

Ratio gain*

3.27 (SD =   2.17)

1.39 (SD =   2.18)

Transferability

It is unclear whether the program has been evaluated in at least one additional population beyond the original study population.

Enduring impact

In the first evaluation, when tracking the sub-sample of 185 children, it has been shown that the children (in all measured instances; i.e. after a year, 3 years and 7 years) have achieved the reading progress which is expected of the average UK child. Given that the intervention was only provided to children identified with reading difficulties and given previous literature and research which indicates that lack of adequate support for such children causes them to fall further behind compared to their peers it is likely that that the intervention has had an enduring impact.  

Issue to consider

Note that it is unclear how the Evaluation 1 above selected the subsample for follow-up and whether this subsample was representative of the entire sample or not.  Hence, the long-term results from this evaluation should be interpreted with this potential design weakness in mind. 

In the future, for the sake of robustness checks it would be beneficial to try to estimate the effect of Catch Up Literacy using more advanced evaluation methods which are currently being available (e.g. propensity score matching, or difference in difference, and other methods), in contrast to t-test alone.

Evaluation details

Evaluation 1

The evaluation makes use of data provided by school and local authority staff from 27 English and Welsh local authorities and contains information on the pre- and post- intervention standardized reading tests (the Salford Sentence Reading tests; conducted by teaching staff) for a total of 3134 pupils who have been identified as ‘struggling readers’ and hence were subject to the Catch Up Literacy intervention between the years 2002 and 2010. Provided that the primary objective of the intervention has been to support children with reading difficulties rather than conduct a research study/ evaluation a control group has not been constructed.

In the first evaluation described all the data submitted by the staff (which included pre- and post-intervention Reading Ages and the duration of the delivery of the intervention) have been included in the analysis with the exception of outliers (which were defined as cases having an absolute z-score greater than 3.29, Field, 2009). The analysis conducted was based on an independent t-test analysis of the mean gain in Reading Age which was achieved by the participating children as well as the duration of intervention (which approximates the gain that would be expected of a typically achieving child).

Furthermore, a sub-sample of the above described dataset consisting of 185   children (from the local authorities in Rhondda Cynon Taff and Norfolk) has been tracked since the reception of the intervention in 2003 (at the age of 7 approximately). The progress (in terms of reading  measured using the Salford Sentence Reading Test, the same test by which they were originally assessed) of those children has been evaluated in three periods of time: a year following the intervention, at the age of 10 and 7 years following the intervention.

The independent t-test analysis (described more in detail above) has shown that  the children participating in the Catch Up Literacy programme had increased their Reading Age more than would be expected of a typically achieving child (t = 61.00, df = 3463.44, p < .001).

The sub-group of 185 children, one year after the intervention has achieved a 12 months reading gains (which equals to the progress expected of typically achieving children); after 3 years (at the age of 10) 67% of the children in the sample achieved Level 4 which is the expected UK national curriculum for 10 years old pupils; after 7 years 89% of the children included in the sample achieved the 10.2 years score (in the Salford Sentence Reading test) which is the ceiling’s test and hence did no longer need intervention.

Evaluation 2

The second evaluation took place in Nottingham in September 2008 where the city’s local authorities undertook a trial of the intervention in six secondary schools amongst a total of 87 children (aged 12 to 14) who have been identified as ‘struggling readers’ by their teachers. The children have been randomly assigned to a treatment (n=20) and control (n=67) groups. The ones belonging to the former have been subject to the Catch Up Literacy intervention while the ones belonging to the latter have matched- time support (i.e. additional literacy support  not Catch Up Literacy). Children belonging to both groups have had their Reading Ages measured before and after (i.e. 4 months later) the intervention and the differences in the means for both groups have been compared using independent t-tests.

An independent t-test analysis of Reading Age ratio gains applied to both the treatment and control groups has shown that the children who have received Catch Up support achieved higher ratio gains than those who have received the alternative matched-time support (t = 3.38, df = 31.67, p <.005). In more detail, while the mean ratio gain for the Catch Up treatment group was 3.27 (SD = 2.17), the mean ratio gain for the matched time control group was 1.39 (SD = 2.18). Furthermore, the reported effect size (defined as the difference between the ratio gains of the two groups divided by the pooled standard deviation) was also large and amounted to 0.86.

Bibliography

  • Holmes, W., Reid, D., and Dowker, A., Early intervention to prevent long-term literacy difficulties: the case of Catch Up Literacy, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 46 (2012), pp. 4498 – 4503.

Contact information

Name

Mrs Theresa Rogers

Organization

Catch Up

Address

Keystone Innovation
Centre, Croxton Road, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 1JD, UK

Email

info@catchup.org
Website

http://www.catchup.org/CatchUpLiteracy/CatchUpLiteracy.aspx

Last updated

December 2018

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