I began implementation of Reading Horizons direct and software instruction programs in 2009 for students K-21 receiving educational services in NJ state-operated facilities. There, I was challenged with providing assistive and education technology to support students with various disabilities, most of whom possessed reading challenges that impacted their academic performance and for some, access to the curriculum. These students’ reading issues were related to organic disability and/or gaps in instruction caused by missed instructional time due to repeated crisis placements that removed them from instructional settings.
For K-3 students, Discover Intensive Phonics replaced their reading curriculum. Students who had been struggling began to thrive given the systematic, multisensory approach. Teachers felt a renewed confidence in teaching phonics given the comprehensive curriculum and support materials. The use of dictation, while integral to student achievement, became a mechanism for daily real time assessment of skill learning and retention.
A large number of our middle and high school students had long been struggling. Once in the upper grades, reading competency had been assumed. Phonics instruction was no longer provided. I found that if students had missed reading instruction during their early years, they were simply struggling, using assistive technologies to give them access to the curriculum, but they did not have access to supports or instruction that would improve reading competency. I will never forget a 17 year old high school student that participated in Reading Horizons direct instruction. In less than a year, she went from a score of 20% to that of 80% on a phonics- based nonsense word test. She had initially been reading on a Kindergarten level, but her work in the program raised her 2.5 grade levels in just a few months. She had not seen that success in nearly 11 years of schooling.
When I left that role and went to a NJ school district, I brought my passion for Reading Horizons with me. My new school district educates a large number of students with reading challenges both within their special and general education populations. Many different remediation approaches had been implemented over the years, yet reading difficulties continue to be pervasive. After only a year in my new district, we began a pilot program in five self-contained classrooms from K-5, implementing both Reading Horizons Discovery and Elevate. We are now in year two of implementation. Students and teachers alike are excited for the success that Reading Horizons brings. Noted improvements have included: a decrease in frustration, improved phonemic and phonological awareness, an increase in reading comprehension and reading fluency, and an overall greater interest in reading.
Reading Horizons also provides exceptional customer services and administrative support, which is the icing on the cake of their excellent program. They have done everything in their power to facilitate our successful implementation, as they share our goal…success for all of our students.