We had so many students coming to middle and high school (who) could not read. We were in need of an intervention.
After seeing the (initial Reading Horizons) presentation, I was convinced that this was a program that would help them. The methods allowed them to "prove" words, and that was the hook for me. We (at the district) felt that this program would teach them the basic phonics and other decoding skills they may have missed. At the secondary level, much of the instruction is done on the computer; this allows privacy and is much-less condescending for the older students.
We felt that Reading Horizons was something that our teachers and students would use with fidelity. Many teachers were doing their own interventions, but we had no way of tracking what they were doing, monitoring progress, or gathering any data. Reading Horizons gave us a way to do all of this.
We first started using Reading Horizons in all of our middle and high schools for special-education students. We offered several trainings and even did one-on-one coaching with teachers.
Teachers began to report that the students (who) were using it loved it and were improving their reading skills. Word began to get around that a new reading program was being used with the secondary schools and how successful it was. We began to get calls from elementary teachers and principals wanting more information. Upon getting the information and seeing demonstrations on how Reading Horizons worked, many of the principals bought the program and are now using it in their schools.
All (of the) teachers who have used the program have reported increases in reading skills. Some students have even made gains in their test scores.
(Speaking about a student that began his tenth-grade year reading below a first-grade level) By the end of the first year of using the Reading Horizons program, the student was reading at the end of a third-grade level. By the end of his second year of using the program, he is now reading at a fifth-grade level.
Every morning, the school starts the day with a 40-minute reading intervention or enrichment class, depending on the need(s) of the students. One teacher wanted to create a Reading Horizons class during this 40-minute period. We asked all of the English-language arts teachers for a list of students they thought would benefit from this program. We pre-tested each of these students and selected the lowest eight....The teacher began to give them direct instruction as well as software reinforcement.
By the end of the year, every student had made significant gains! The teacher shared that there must be fidelity to the program. Allowing students to work on it every day is the ideal situation.
Oftentimes, teachers may have computers that don’t work, and then it becomes a district problem in trying to remedy the situation.
The other challenge is training. Since training is supposed to be anywhere from one-to-two full days, we often don’t have that kind of time. We’ve been able to devote some in-service days to the training, but often that is not enough. I’ve been able to offer training after school for one-and-a-half-to-two hours over two-to-three days. This seems to work out.
Our (ultimate) goal is for students to be able to have 24/7 access to Reading Horizons, thus including a home school connection.
With students being as transient as they are today, if they transfer schools, they can continue with the intervention without any interruption in the progress they’ve made. Also, as students move from elementary to middle school, they can continue with the program if it is being implemented district wide.