Trial 2 Results

After reviewing the first trial both the classroom teacher and I felt that the students were not yet reaching their learning potential – most students learnt a similar amount of sight words and we would had expected a greater variation. We wondered if the higher achievers were being held back by an insufficient amount of learning content. So for Trial 2, the Store pocket was topped up with new remediation content weekly, rather than fortnightly. This meant that as flashcards reached the Test pocket, students always had new material to transfer into the Hive.

The results below showed that almost all of the students were capable of learning at a faster pace and there was a significant increase in the number of sight words learnt during the 6 week trial.

Changing the Learning Load Process -page-001

Posted by Nicola in Research

Phonics, principals put schools ahead

From The West Australian 9/12/15

Once again the research indicates that a structured synthetic phonics program produces excellent student results …

The article:

“A focus on teaching phonics and good leadership are key to improving school results, an Education Department report reveals.

The department commissioned former University of WA education dean and deputy vice-chancellor Bill Louden to investigate teaching practices at nine public primary schools which showed consistent improvement on national literacy and numeracy test results.

The report found three characteristics common to all nine schools.

They included reading programs based on explicit teaching of phonics — the relationship between letters and sounds — in the early years, well-developed school improvement plans and stable, long-term leadership with principals averaging 12 years in their school.

“All of the schools were using synthetic phonics and 10 years ago that wouldn’t have been the case,” Emeritus Professor Louden toldThe West Australian .

“I think there is a lot more phonics taught these days than there was before but from my point of view, there is no excuse not to begin with synthetic phonics with small children, otherwise you’re just waiting for them to fail.”

The report said most of the schools in the study had developed school-wide plans on what and how to teach, instead of leaving those decisions to individual teachers.

Almost all the schools had implemented explicit instruction methods for teaching reading, spelling and maths.

Many were using tightly-scripted direct instruction programs using text books and other supplied materials so that teachers could focus on their teaching instead of lesson planning.

Many of the schools had also made significant investments in teachers’ professional development.

Statewide services executive director Lindsay Hale said the project was designed to give the department a better understanding of the conditions in place at high-achieving schools and provide case studies for other schools to examine.

Mr Hale said director-general Sharyn O’Neill had long called for teachers to use explicit teaching approaches and for phonics to have a key place in students’ literacy learning in the early years.

“This report shows those methods are working well among the schools which Professor Louden investigated,” he said.”

The West Australian

Posted by Nicola in News, Research

Teachers Urged to Adopt Targeted Teaching

Dr Goss with Nicola Carr-White

Schools are urged to embrace “targeted teaching” to improve student knowledge according to the findings of the latest education report from the Grattan Institute “Targeted Teaching: How Better Use of Data can Improve Student Learning” by Dr P. Goss & J. Hunter.

What a pleasure to discuss the new Mastery Learning Folder strategy with Dr Goss recently. The strategy  provides a safety net for students through individual remediation of foundational classroom learning whilst providing an organizational format that facilitates a tailored learning load and pace of learning. As a homework tool, the folders enables all students to receive targeted remediation through harnessing the power of parents – see their feedback below.

I welcome further discussion – please get in touch or a add a comment below!

Lunch with Dr Pete Goss

Related Articles:

Video: What are Mastery Learning Folders?

Teachers urged to adopy target teaching to address curriculum – The West Australian

Teaching the Digital Natives – Australian Financial Review

“… our daughter LOVES her Mastery Learning Folder and is always eager to retrieve it to practise her words every night. We’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well her reading has come along since using the  folder and would definitely recommend it to others. Thanks for letting us be a part of your trial and good luck with what has proven to be a great program :)” Christine, Parent

“We absolutely love the folders that you have created. The children and the parents are finding them most useful for the kid’s flashcards. What we also find very helpful is that the pockets are wider and the design of them is brilliant  especially the hard back cover so that no spills can soak through to the work and also because you can see where the children are up to and what they have achieved with the pockets being labeled and the children can also see what they have achieved.” Lisa, Parent

“The learning experience was very enjoyable. My daughter enjoyed moving the words along in the folder and could see her progress. Also she loved the stickers on completion of each day.” Lorena, Parent

“We did the big test on the girls’ words today and they both got 100% for the first time. Happy days!!!  Thanks for creating such a great tool.” Leanne, Homeschooling Mum

Further Feedback

Posted by Nicola in News, Research

Dr Pete Goss Grattan Institute

Today I had a wonderful lunch at the Riverbank Estate, Swan Valley, with Dr Pete Goss, researcher and leading authority on targeted teaching (see article links below). I am very pleased to share that he recognised my new Mastery Learning Folder strategy as a valid remediation intervention for foundational learning concepts.
I went through my history of using the strategy from starting with the same content for each child in the old manilla folders through to the modified strategy of differentiated content, learning load and learning time facilitated by the new mastery learning folder design. I also shared the results of the first pilot school study being conducted this year. He suggested several avenues to pursue for research opportunities and kindly offered his support in this process – very happy with that!


Dr Goss with Nicola Carr-White

Recent articles related to Dr Goss:

“Targeted Teaching: How Better Use of Data can Improve Student Learning” by Dr P. Goss & J. Hunter.

Targeted Teaching in the news:

The West Australian
Newspaper Clipping
Online Version

Australian Financial Review
Online Version

Posted by Nicola in Endorsements, News, Research

John Hattie’s Visible Learning

An enthralling 16 minute Ted Talk by John Hattie that summarises research into maximising teacher impact on student learning!

Posted by Nicola in Research

Mastery Learning Folders: A New Take on a Traditional Strategy

“Great teaching will no longer mean masterful delivery of the year level curriculum, but extending the skills and knowledge of every student in every class, regardless of their starting point.” 1

In the past Mastery Learning Folders were often used to assist students learn sight words or phonics, but they have much more potential than that! They are an organisational and educational tool that can be used as a safety net to ensure that every student receives the remediation content they need. Based on class assessments  or post-testing using Flashcard Club content, students can work with their parents 10 minutes each homework night. At the next teacher test, get ready to be very excited about the results – you will be ticking off your records left, right and centre.

The difference is that Mastery Learning Folders provide a convenient way to present learning remediation, they allow teachers to determine the learning load by regulating how many flashcards are in circulation, and the pace of learning is regulated – each time a flashcard reaches the test pocket, a new one is transferred from the store pocket. This learning tool is visual and targeted. See the Mastery Learning Folder page for more details.


1 Goss, P., Hunter, J., Romanes, D., Parsonage, H., 2015, Targeted teaching: how better use of data can improve student learning, Grattan Institute 

Report: Targeted teaching: how better use of data can improve student learning | Grattan Institute

Posted by Nicola in News, Research

Trial 1 Results

In Term 1, 2015, St Brigid’s Primary School trialled the use of Mastery Learning Folders as a homework tool to supplement the sight word program in the classroom. Students were pre-tested on sight words up to the level at which they could no longer recognize the words in the next two sets. The total score of correct words was recorded. These scores varied between 1 and 153 and gave an indication of each child’s current level of achievement. The incorrect sight words for each child formed the initial learning content in the folder and pre-testing continued as required throughout the trial. The content that reached the “Test” pocket was formally assessed fortnightly and the correct sight words stored in the “Mastered!” pocket. The quantity of new flashcards added to the folder was adjusted according to individual results. The trial ran for six weeks and the sight words in the Mastered! pocket were retested in the week after the conclusion of the trial.

Learning Content Differentiation

Student learning was differentiated in three ways. Firstly, the degree of difficulty increased with each set of sight words; students received only the words they had not yet mastered, reflecting their current level of ability. Secondly, the learning load (number of flashcards) varied according to the level of ability and teacher judgement. Some students received five sight words, others received up to ten words in their folder and this was reviewed at each teacher test session. Thirdly, the cyclical nature of the mastery learning folder process meant that the time provided to learn the content was differentiated. Content that was learnt quickly moved through the folder and into the “Mastered!” pocket faster than the content that the student found more difficult. These flashcards returned to the first active pocket (the “Hive”) and could cycle back as many times as was needed for consolidation to occur.


Correlation between Initial Score and Words  Learned

86% of students (19/22) learned between 20 – 25 words regardless of their initial test score. This suggests that the learning content was well matched to student ability and the use of the Mastery Learning Folder resulted in most children achieving success at their own level. Two of the three students that were exceptions (red squares) learnt more than 25 words despite having low initial scores. The final exception was the student with the lowest initial score (green square) who took more time and therefore learned less sight words, a result consistent with his level of ability.

Results 1

Sight Words Mastered after the Trial

As words were tested correctly they were transferred to the Mastered! pocket to await the post trial test. The time delay between the initial test and the post test varied between one and six weeks depending on when the word was first tested. The lowest result was 80%, with half of the students having an instant recall result of 100%.

Results 3



 Statistical analysis conducted by Dr Rob Solomon B Sc. (Hons) PhD



Posted by Nicola in Research