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« Some Reading That Will Make Your Day [And Give You That Smooth Complexion That is So in Demand] | Main | Reading Recovery. "...the devil hath power T' assume a pleasing shape" »

Wednesday, November 03, 2004



Dear Professor:

All my favorite cites, lined up here on your site. I agree. But here is my problem: I have limited resources, and unlimited problems of reading comprehension in disadvantaged students. I don't worry about rich kids; they will learn one way or another. But what about those thousands of poor, minority kids in crappy forgotten neighborhoods in St. Louis, or Cleveland, or Detroit? What do I do about them?

I need a systemic, studied, clear protocol to give to teachers, a protocol like kidney dialysis for kidney disease or inhaled steroids for asthma that I know will work to help most kids most of the time. I need something that will guarantee the success of struggling teachers, and give excellent teachers a base to build on.

Imagine physicians or architects without some basic plans to work with. Novices, that is. Would anyone expect a brand-new architect to design the Seagram's building, or the Sears Tower, or the Sydney Opera House? Then why do we expect novice teachers to bring the most disadvataged student to grade level, without any help at all in instruction?


Dr. Cookie asks a great question. Fortunately, I have a great answer.

SRA/McGraw-Hill. The program is called Corrective Reading. It has two strands: (1) decoding (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and some vocabulary and comprehension); and (2) comprehension--from literal to highly evaluative forms of comprehension.

Click on Direct Instruction and then Corrective Reading.

For grades 3 to college.

You get the Series Guide (go to the above url). You identify struggling students. You test them all--takes a few minutes each. The test tells you where to place them. You create homogeneous groups and order the materials. SRA provides free training. Heck, I'll train you.

Results? At least 1.5 years growth in 65 lessons. Almost immediate reduction in problem behavior.

I'm of course making it too simple, but it's as close to perfect instruction as is humanly possible.

Also, from Curriculum Associates, use Skills for School Success (elementary) and Advanced Skills for School Success (secondary). By Anita Archer. Direct Instruction on listening, planning, note taking, comprehension, doing assignments.

dr. cookie

Professor, What do you think about Success for All?


In resp to Doc Cookie's question...

I rank programs thus... (mostly preference)

1. Reading Mastery Classic Edition, Horizons, and Plus

All three are completely scripted. This ensures that instruction is given exactly as intended by the designers, who spend about 5 years writing and field testing. Most teachers appreciate the scripting. The only people who complain about scripting ("What about CREATIVITY?") are whole language perfessers and teachers who are just trying to find some bad to say. I believe actors follow scripts and don't feel uncreative.

Classic is no frills. No cute bunnies in level I. Just learn to read. Levels II to VI get higher and higher level, with good literature covering many subjects.

Horizons has more reading than Classic Edition.

Reading Mastery Plus includes writing.

2. Open Court. Less scripting or precise directions to the teacher. So, teachers have to make up a good bit of it and/or get a lot of training. As with Reading Mastery, kids WILL learn to read.

3. Yoyager. Very well designed.

Actually, I may like Voyager more than OC.

4. Success for All. Somewhere between Reading Mastery and Open Court on the amount of scripting for teachers.

5. Harcourt Trophies

Here are reviews of many curricula.


Professor, Very important link for you Re: Reading Recovery. Thanks to Joanne Jacobs.

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