THE best social investment
The Davis Learning Strategies (DLS) program is the result of six years of classroom research and observation.
In a pilot study, published in 2001 and conducted among two California public schools, the program was introduced in successive years to children in grades K-2 (age 5-8).
Three classroom groups were compared with demographically matched groups, who had received the same basic language arts curriculum without the supplementary Davis program.
The results were encouraging across all levels. For example, first grade students scored significantly higher than the control group for the mastery of 100 basic sight words.
Follow-up data showed that no special education referrals had been made two years after initial Davis intervention for any of the three pilot classrooms. At the same time, gifted referrals from these same classrooms were on average four times higher than the typical school population.
Immediate Excellence in Two American Schools
In the year 2006, Elbert Elementary school's third grade reading scores went straight from the worst to the best of all schools in the Pikes Peak district in Colorado, US, - immediately after 17 staff members were trained in using DLS. Two years later the school had still retained their leading position.
Walsh Elementary is a small, rural school in Colorado serving preschool through sixth grades. They introduced DLS in 2003, and four years later - against all odds - they had the highest reading scores in the state of Colorado, with 89% of the children scoring at or above grade level proficiency.
Nearly £1 billion annual return from a £35 million investment
The total UK Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) budget in 2021 was £8.7 billion, but is expected to rise substantially this year.
We do not have data on exactly how this budget spreads over the various special educational needs in the UK, but according to a study published by the US Center for Special Education Finance in 2001, learners with SLD or SLI (dyslexia and related learning difficulties) received 60% of the total special needs budget in the USA at that time.
If we assume the UK spends the same 60% of the special needs budget on dyslexia and related learning difficulties, then that amounts to over £5 billion annually.
Our proposal aims to free up resources within the UK education budget worth nearly £1 billion every year through annual commitment of just £35 million to DLS training.
£1 billion freed up annually in social and correctional services
Freeing up all these resources may sound exciting, but we haven’t even begun to look at a figure which The Dyslexia Institute estimates to be around £1 billion annually in the UK – an estimate we deem to be a very conservative. This is the cost to society when young people drop out of education and sign up for unemployment benefits or get tempted by a life of crime which can offer instant short-term gratification for a person with broken self-esteem and a poor sense of consequence.
A study commissioned by the British Dyslexia Association showed the percentage of dyslexics among young offenders to be almost 60%. This study mentioned a larger study - also commissioned by the BDA - where the early indications are considerably higher, or close to 80% dyslexics among offenders.
A survey amongst people in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres showed over 90% dyslexia, and early indications of a pilot intervention programme (not based on Davis) showed re-offending rates dropping 90% amongst a group of prisoners, where dyslexia was successfully addressed within Doncaster prison.
The Davis methods have been shown to successfully address the issue which often is at the root of anti-social behaviour – a diminished sense and understanding of consequence. This issue is at the root of denial, when people do not realise how their behaviour affects their own prospects and other people’s lives, and denial is a key ingredient in destructive addictive behaviours.
If DLS was introduced nationwide, we could reasonably expect to see significant savings in policing, the justice system and the prison services, as well as in social services.
What happens when the group that makes up most of our offenders is significantly reduced?
Gifted students; the greatest return on investment
The above are the potential savings in society as a whole resulting from introducting DLS, but the largest potential benefit is actually likely to come from the value created in society when neurodiverse individuals are successfully catered for in the mainstream education system.
The Californian DLS study from 2001 showed the average number of gifted students quadruple. Instead of the national average of 5% gifted referrals, the DLS classrooms had an average of 20% gifted referrals.
This is most likely an indication that the neurodiverse learners manage to harness their gift when the teaching methods cater for their needs, but perhaps it also indicates that Davis Learning Strategies enhance learning for every single pupil in the classroom.
As a result of a nationwide introduction of DLS we can reasonably hope to see a significant rise in innovation, productivity and growth, which could well dwarf the annual £1bn we aim to free up in special needs education and correctional services respectively.