The Case for Explicit Teaching

The Case for Explicit Teaching

Addressing Literacy and Numeracy Deficiencies in Australian Schools

In recent years, the educational landscape in Australia has faced significant challenges, particularly in the areas of literacy and numeracy. Reports indicate a troubling trend of declining performance among primary and secondary students in these foundational areas. This decline not only affects immediate learning outcomes but also has long-term implications for students' future educational and career prospects. In response to this pressing issue, a growing number of schools are turning to explicit teaching methods as a solution, with noteworthy results. This blog explores the serious issues of literacy and numeracy deficiencies in Australian schools, highlights the effectiveness of explicit teaching methods, and provides a detailed guide on implementing explicit teaching through reading comprehension program CARS & STARS, as well as the mathematics program CAMS & STAMS.


Understanding the Crisis in Literacy and Numeracy

The decline in literacy and numeracy skills among Australian students is alarming. National assessments such as NAPLAN have consistently shown that a significant portion of students fail to meet the expected standards in reading, writing, and mathematics. This deficiency in basic skills hampers their ability to grasp more complex concepts as they progress through their educational journey, leading to a cycle of frustration and disengagement.


Why Explicit Teaching?

Explicit teaching is a structured, systematic, and effective methodology that has shown significant promise in reversing these trends. It involves clear, direct teaching of concepts, followed by guided practice, and culminating in independent practice. This approach not only supports students in understanding new concepts but also in consolidating their learning through repetition and feedback. Schools that have adopted explicit teaching report improvements in student engagement, understanding, and academic performance, particularly in literacy and numeracy.


The Role of CARS & STARS in Enhancing Literacy

The CARS & STARS program is a comprehensive literacy tool that schools can utilise to boost reading comprehension skills. STARS, the strategic teaching portion of the program, stands for Strategies to Achieve Reading Success. It provides a framework for explicit teaching in reading through distinct strategies like finding main ideas, recalling facts and details, and understanding sequences. Each strategy is taught explicitly, allowing students to engage with texts more effectively and improve their reading comprehension significantly.

CARS & STARS Diagram

Implementing STARS in Classrooms

To implement STARS effectively:

  1. Assess: Use CARS (Comprehensive Assessment of Reading Strategies) to determine students' reading levels and comprehension weaknesses.
  2. Teach: Select appropriate strategies from STARS for explicit teaching based on assessment results.
  3. Practice: Engage students with targeted exercises that reinforce the taught reading strategies.
  4. Review: Continuously assess and adjust teaching based on student progress and feedback.


The Impact of CAMS & STAMS on Numeracy Proficiency

Similar to CARS & STARS, the CAMS & STAMS programs focus on mathematics, with STAMS (Strategies to Achieve Mathematics Success) designed to address deficiencies in numeracy. This program follows a systematic approach to teaching fundamental maths concepts explicitly, from basic arithmetic to more complex problem-solving strategies.

CAMS & STAMS Diagram

Implementing STAMS in Educational Settings

To implement STAMS effectively:

  1. Diagnose: Use CAMS (Comprehensive Assessment of Mathematics Strategies) to identify specific areas of need in students' mathematical understanding.
  2. Instruct: Follow the STAMS curriculum to deliver explicit instruction on key mathematical concepts and strategies.
  3. Engage: Provide structured practice that reinforces these concepts, using real-world problems to enhance relevance and understanding.
  4. Assess: Regularly evaluate progress and adjust instruction accordingly to ensure continuous improvement in numeracy skills.

The adoption of explicit teaching methods through programs like CARS & STARS and CAMS & STAMS offers a promising solution to the literacy and numeracy challenges facing Australian schools. By focusing on structured, clear, and direct teaching and learning strategies, these programs not only improve immediate academic performance but also equip students with the skills necessary to succeed in their ongoing education and beyond. As more schools embrace these methods, the hope is that the tide will turn, bringing about a significant enhancement in literacy and numeracy across Australian schools.

Back to blog