Impact Evaluation of the Read Write Inc. Phonics and Fresh Start Programs in the United Kingdom

Read Write Inc. Phonics and Fresh Start are phonics-based comprehensive literacy programs. Read Write Inc. Phonics is a complete literacy program targeted at 4- to 6-year-olds learning to read and write, and 7- to 8-year-olds needing to catch up. Fresh Start is a 33-week catch-up literacy program delivered to target children in Years 5 – 8 identified as having fallen behind in expected standards in reading and writing; it aims to support pupils with reading difficulties at the end of primary school, using systematic phonics approaches embedded in content that is tailored for older pupils.

AIR was awarded a grant by the Education Endowment Foundation in the United Kingdom to evaluate these programs in the UK. Working in partnership with its assessment partner Queens University, Belfast, AIR is implementing a cluster of randomized controlled trials (RCT) to determine the impact of the programs on various pertinent reading outcomes from the New Group Reading Test and government Key Stage 1 and 2 results.

Our primary research questions are (1) Do Read Write Inc. Phonics and Fresh Start impact pupil reading outcomes? and (2) How are the programs being implemented? Randomized across 130 schools, the study includes a samples of 4,832 Read Write Inc. Phonics pupils from Reception to Year 2 and 2,708 Fresh Start pupils from Years 5 and 6.

Pooja Nakamura
Principal Researcher and Program Area Lead, International Education