A report on Aotearoa, New Zealand’s literacy situation is expected to reveal “the dire state”, according to an expert.

The Education Hub, whose mission is to bridge the gap between research and teaching practice, is due to release the report this evening.

He says that over the past year he has done extensive literature review.

Carla McNeil, founder and chief executive of education consultancy Learning Matters, told Breakfast: “It’s no secret that we expect this report to reveal the dire state of literacy in New Zealand.”

A 2020 UNICEF report found that only 64.4% of 15-year-olds in the country have more than basic reading and math skills, meaning that 35.4% – more a third – have difficulty reading and writing.

“We think it will articulate these statistics very clearly,” McNeil said, “indicating that our children, across the country, from various socioeconomic, demographic and cultural backgrounds are really struggling with reading and writing.”

McNeil also told Breakfast that she expects the report to highlight a number of contributing factors as to why literacy rates are the way they are.

She explained that this includes increased absenteeism, socio-economic, demographic and cultural implications.

McNeil also expects the report to identify aspects such as the inconsistency of evidence-based teaching approaches.

She went on to explain that she believes teachers teach what they believe is necessary, rather than clear, concise evidence-based guidelines.

“Every teacher in New Zealand deserves the right to have this knowledge and to have the assessment tools that measure these finer skills and the learning of reading, writing and spelling, and well sure they need the resources to be able to do that.”

McNeil said improving literacy rates isn’t about putting more wallpaper on the walls and upgrading what’s been done.

“We need to take the wallpaper off the wall, we really need to ask ourselves why we have so many children who cannot learn to read. We need to follow the science of reading and we need to think about developing a strategy for literacy in New Zealand which outlines very clearly what needs to be taught to ensure that we don’t leave reading to chance.”

McNeil said she was “hopeful and somewhat excited” that the report would contain clear recommendations and next steps.