THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO--(Oct. 15, 2007) - A first-of-its kind report, Get Ready, Get Set, Get Going: Learning to Read in Northern Canada, released earlier today, is guaranteed to spark interest in both the Canadian and international policy-making and education communities.
Highlighting extraordinary examples of grassroots education initiatives, providing 43 evidence-based best principles, and 16 recommendations to help northern educators and parents support children's early reading efforts, Get Ready, Get Set, Get Going: Learning to Read in Northern Canada offers a concrete, doable plan for reading success.
"Despite the hundreds of reports on early reading, this is the first to focus solely on the children of Canada's North. It celebrates and attests to the power of good teaching," says Report Principal Investigator Dr. Julia O'Sullivan, former Dean of the Faculty of Education, Lakehead University, when the Report was undertaken, now Dean of Education at the University of Western Ontario.
"This report lends a voice to children of the North. It has numerous strategic implications for reading success, and is an excellent resource for those working with children in Northern communities," says Rui Wang, Acting National Director of the Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents with Special Needs, Lakehead University.
"The Centre is to be commended for this evidence-based report," says Helen Raham, Research Director, Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education (SAEE), B.C. "The use of layman's language and practical recommendations will make the report highly useful in the field, offering valuable guidance to policy makers. The need for additional research on effective literacy programs for Northern and Aboriginal learners resonates with the findings of SAEE's research Sharing Our Success."
All Canadian schools and communities face challenges providing quality educational opportunities for their young children, but what makes the North unique is the additional challenge of providing a range of relevant learning opportunities for a small, culturally and linguistically diverse population living in a vast and remote region made up of communities that differ immensely in size and economic base.
Get Ready, Get Set, Get Going: Learning to Read in Northern Canada recognizes the unique issues surrounding early reading in the North. "This is a comprehensive, pan-Northern Canada report which provides a sweeping set of recommendations, every one of which would make a difference in how well Northern children learn to read," says Lyn McLeod, Founding Chair of the National Advisory Board for the Centre of Excellence.
Get Ready, Get Set, Get Going: Learning to Read in Northern Canada is a collaborative effort initiated by Lakehead University's Centre of Excellence. It involves many partners including a 10-person International Expert Panel comprising Aboriginal, English, and French specialists in northern Canadian education, joined by colleagues from the U.S., Norway, and Finland.
Get Ready, Get Set, Get Going: Learning to Read in Northern Canada will be available online in English, French, Ojicree, and Inuktitut at http://www.coespecialneeds.ca on October 15, and on cd with over 500 copies distributed across Northern Canada.
Media: Dr. Julia O'Sullivan and Dr. Rui Wang are available to speak about the contents of the Report and the strategic implications of the study on the reading skills of children in Northern Canadian communities.
Recommendation 1: A public education program responsive to the needs of northern parents, that promotes the importance of their languages and literacy practices at home, and teaches how they can use everyday activities to support their young children’s literacy development.
Recommendation 2: Responsibility for a system of seamless integrated early language literacy and education programs involving children, families, early childhood and primary school educators be included under the jurisdiction of education.
Recommendation 3: Access to quality culturally and linguistically relevant preschools and Kindergarten programs for all northern children, including language nests aligned with the language of instruction in school.
Recommendation 4: Opportunities and sustained support for adult literacy and adult education, including community-based programs.
Recommendation 5: A web-based forum for storytellers, Elders, grandparents, and teachers to write and share age- and reading level-appropriate written materials for children in their own language(s).
Recommendation 6: Development of culturally and linguistically relevant resources, including assessments, and a mechanism for dissemination of those resources to northern schools.
Recommendation 7: An evidence-based Reading Framework for Northern Canada outlining specific expectations for reading in the different language of instruction groups, aligned with learning outcomes for teacher education programs and licensing requirements for teachers.
Recommendation 8: A directory of northern expertise in early reading instruction and related areas (e.g., leadership, early intervention, assessment, special needs) that all schools and communities can draw upon for consultation and services (e.g., professional development).
Recommendation 9: Partnerships involving university/regional/community/school groups to support the development of a Centre(s) of Excellence for initial and continuing education of primary northern teachers and to consolidate existing expertise in northern teacher education.
Recommendation 10: Sabbaticals for northern teachers to allow for study and travel, reimbursement for costs of teacher education, and language fluency and early reading expertise allowances.
Recommendation 11: Funding formulas for northern schools that are based on need and respond to poverty, remoteness, distance, and isolation, and that ensure equitable funding for provincial, territorial, and band-controlled schools.
Recommendation 12: Libraries with linguistically and culturally appropriate resources and technical services for all communities (e.g., integrated public-school libraries).
Recommendation 13: High speed internet access to all northern schools and communities.
Recommendation 14: An immediate comprehensive review of the appropriateness and effectiveness of interventions currently available in northern schools for young children with reading difficulties.
Recommendation 15: A northern reading research strategy to consolidate existing evidence, conduct new research and include oversampling of the North in national studies to ensure sufficient data to inform northern decision making.
Recommendation 16: A Northern Centre for Reading to serve as a one-stop-shop to collate, analyse, store and disseminate reading research, data and reading resources (e.g., as outlined in recommendations 5,6,7, 8 and 15).