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Declining reading scores tracked by QUT research

16th April 2019

Leading education researchers have tracked a significant decline in reading ability among children from Grades One to Three.

Latest research will be presented at a Learning2Read forum this week at QUT.

It also marks the launch of the engaged learning strand of QUT’s Student Engagement Learning and Behaviour Research Group (SELB).


WHO:               Professor Linda Graham

WHERE:           QUT Kelvin Grove, E550 Education Precinct, Victoria Park Road

WHEN:             12:30 – 5:30pm, Thursday April 18, 2019  


Learning to read is a fundamental achievement educators say children need to master within their first three years of formal schooling.

If not, reading problems persist leading to student disengagement and early school leaving.

For the first time, QUT researchers have analysed word-level reading trajectories of a group of more than 100 children during their early years of schooling.

The results found across time, there was a significant decline in reading scores.

Children were especially weak in phonemic decoding – which is the ability to decipher unfamiliar words.

Professor Graham said almost a third of children in the study were doing better in Grade One than they were two full school years later.

“The goal of reading is to decode to comprehend what’s being read,” she said.

“Poor decoding skills make children reliant on whole word recognition, which burdens children’s working memory.

“After Grade Three, a child’s education shifts from learning to read to reading to learn.

“It’s very important such difficulties are identified during the early years of schooling and children are provided with ongoing evidence-based support.

 “Left unaddressed these difficulties will become entrenched and children will not be able to access the academic school curriculum or function in a modern knowledge-based economy.”   

Other speakers at the event include Distinguished Professor Anne Castles from Macquarie University Centre for Reading.

Professor Castles provides insight into the ‘science of reading’ and implications for teaching and assessment.

More information is available by clicking here.

Media interested in attending or speaking to any of the delegates are asked to contact QUT Media.

Contact: or 07 3138 1150.


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