Dr Sally Howell is a long-standing advocate for children at risk of reading difficulties. She is Principal of the MUSEC school; a school for children with special educational needs. As a part of Macquarie University, the school conducts ethical research into the efficacy of different instructional strategies; research that is likely to be just as valuable to educators outside of the special school environment.
New South Wales has developed a literacy program known as ‘L3′. This program is intended for government schools and was developed using taxpayers’ money. There are hints that it is related to Reading Recovery in some way. This would be significant because a report by the state’s Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation has revealed Reading Recovery as an ineffective intervention.
In 2011, the Ministerial Advisory Group Literacy and Numeracy (MAGLN) recommended that: “High quality, rigorous and independent evaluation of literacy and numeracy interventions in NSW schools should be a priority.” This seems perfectly reasonable.
So, out of a sense of public service, Sally has asked for the L3 materials in order to review them. Last year, in a letter from a senior official at the NSW department of education, she was told, “The resource is not available for commercial or research purposes, however, if there is a change in this decision, we will notify you. I hope this clarifies the Department’s position on this resource.”
What’s the big secret? Why should a resource developed with public funds be kept hidden from the broader community?