Evaluation of Catch up Literacy

Palak Roy, Simon Rutt, Emily Buchanan, Constance Rennie, Kerry Martin and Fiona Walker

15 February 2019

Research report on the EEF website

Catch Up® Literacy is a structured one-to-one intervention that aims to improve the reading ability of struggling readers. The intervention is book-based and comprises two 15-minute sessions each week on a one-to-one basis. Pupils receive Catch Up® for approximately 6 to 12 months depending on individual need: once the pupil’s reading age has caught up to their chronological reading age, they leave the programme. Schools receive three half-day training sessions for the Teaching Assistants (TAs) who deliver the intervention and their designated Catch Up® Literacy coordinator in their school, as well as materials to support the one-to-one sessions. The school-level randomised controlled trial focused on pupils in Years 4 and 5 (aged eight to ten years old) who were underperforming or struggling with literacy. One hundred and fifty six primary schools were randomised to receive Catch Up® Literacy or to continue with their existing practices. The purpose of this trial was to evaluate the effect of
Catch Up® Literacy over existing practices. The implementation and process evaluation drew on observations of training sessions, surveys of TAs and coordinators, telephone interviews in Catch Up® schools and a termly activity log for the control schools. The project started in May 2016 and the testing took place in June-July 2017.

Key Findings

  • The project found no evidence that Catch Up® Literacy improves reading comprehension for children in Years 4 and 5.
  • The analysis for children eligible for Free School Meals demonstrated that there was a difference in reading comprehension score but this result was not statistically significant. This means that the statistical evidence does not meet the threshold to conclude that the true impact was not zero.
  • The intervention was not always delivered as intended. Some schools struggled to resource two one-to-one sessions per week, while in other schools TAs adapted how they delivered individual sessions from what they were taught in the training.

Sponsor Details

Education Endowment Foundation