I am an English IV (12th grade English) teacher at J. J. McClain High School in Lexington, MS (in Holmes County). Although I teach high school seniors, due to a variety of factors, about a quarter of them are on a K-5 reading level. Many likely have undiagnosed learning disabilities or simply did not receive adequate reading instruction in the first place. Given these circumstances, I reached out to Reading Horizons, which provided me with materials for teaching phonics and basic literacy skills to secondary students. I regret that I have not been able to convince more of my students to spend time after school working through the lessons (I think many are simply too discouraged and/or ashamed), but with the one student I have (finally) convinced to do so, we have seen rapid gains in the roughly three weeks we have been working together.
The student, Jeremie, began on a low third grade reading level, and a more detailed diagnostic revealed that although he could identify letter names, he could not always hear the difference between vowel sounds. As a result, he had difficulty encoding and decoding words. The systematic approach of Reading Horizons' method has already helped Jeremie to distinguish between short vowel sounds, and he has already reported improvements in his ability to decode words during whole-class reading. He also has begun participating in class, indicating increased confidence. I am disappointed that I will likely only have the opportunity to use this program with one student this year, but I hope to use the data from working with Jeremie to make the case to my administration that this is a program worth undertaking with a larger number of students during the school day.