The Program, The Research Base, & Results
The program we are using to tutor the children is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons .
This is a Direct Instruction (DI) program for teaching beginning reading. It is a shortened version of the first two levels (300 lessons) of the more comprehensive DI program, Reading Mastery. It is designed for one-to-one student and teacher instruction, but it can be used in small groups as well. It has been used with tens of thousands of children.
The program teaches all five essential reading skills: (1) phonemic awareness (hearing the sounds and syllables in words); (2) phonics or the alphabetic principle (knowing the sounds that go with the letters and using this knowledge to sound out words); (3) reading accurately and quickly (fluency); (4) vocabulary; and (5) comprehension. 100 Easy Lessons should be supplemented by additional work on vocabulary.
The program moves children from no reading skill (lesson 1) to reading on a second grade level. This rapid acquisition of skill results from features of the program. These include:
- Teaching more basic skills before teaching the more complex skills that rest on the basics.
- Teaching every skill in a systematic way that ensures clear communication from the teacher; e.g., a special orthography or way of writing so that important parts of words are emphasized; modeling the skill, then leading students through the skill (e.g., sounding out words), and then checking to see if students can do the skill independently; correcting all errors immediately; frequent review to ensure retention.
- Quickly integrating basic skills into complex skills. For example, as soon as students can hear and say certain sounds, they are taught the letters that go with the sounds, and then are taught to read words made with the letters and sentences made with the words.
- Teaching children to use their skills to read words they have never seen (generalization).
Children can enter the program at different points (lessons) depending on their current skills. This means that the program can be used with children at different grade levels, ages, and proficiencies. It can be used with new readers and with students who have been poorly taught and need remedial instruction.
The program also makes family involvement possible, as teachers, tutors, and parents can all use the same material.
Moreover, all versions of DI Curricula have been scientifically validated by an extensive -- indeed, exhaustive research base. (Click link)
This PDF file (click link), First Progress Results, summarizes the progress the children made, on average, in the first round of tutoring, which ran Monday-Thursday afternoons from September 22 to December 11. The average number of days children attended tutoring sessions from September to December was 27; the actual time spent tutoring each day is approximately 20 minutes. Thus, the average tutoring time during the first run of the pilot was 540 minutes. So, the gains reported in the progress report are based on an average of 9 instructional hours. The file is a modified version of a summary presentation two members of the Research Team provided to the New Hanover County Human Relations Commission on January 26, 2009. The results should be fairly self explanatory, but if you have questions, please contact us. My e-mail is linked at the bottom of this page.