The new elementary school principal could hardly believe what he was hearing - an eighth-grade student struggling to read a fourth-grade book! "He must be severely handicapped," the principal thought. Upon investigation, however, he found that the reader was a typical 14 year-old boy. Except for one thing - he couldn't read.
I was that school principal, and I soon discovered that those students were not alone; half the adults in the United States can't read simple instructions like those on a job application or a medicine bottle. Canadians fare only slightly better.
So why can't these students read? In desperation I sought an answer from the district's experts. They sent me 2,000 miles away to a reading specialist with a Ph.D. I hung on every word she spoke, but returned to my school no wiser for the effort.
Over the next twenty years I examined every reading instruction methodology that promised even a glimmer of hope, but none provided the answers I so desperately needed. Although some of the methods seemed to help some of the students, there were always large gaps that left many unable to read.
Years later new scientific research on the complex functions of the brain revealed that all the reading instruction programs used in schools - even those that include basic phonics instruction - are predicated on faulty assumptions. They attempt to teach reading to an area of the brain that can't process language in any form. It is the old "Dick and Jane" whole-word method. The entire system was destined to fail from the start.
Armed with the latest research, I began designing a step-by-step protocol that would gently guide students through all the complexities of reading. It had to work in harmony with the brain's sophisticated neurological architecture, and it had to include everything needed to enable students to read and comprehend written English. It must transfer the information on the printed page to the brain smoothly and logically, and result in an orderly, one-way flow of information. Nothing like this had ever been done before.
The new strategy proved itself the very first time it was used. The student was a sixth-grade girl who was stuck at third-grade reading level. After only 28 hours of instruction she advanced to eighth-grade level. Her parents and teachers were shocked at the change. Some called it a fluke. Others called it a miracle in reading instruction. It was neither. It was a simple matter of putting all the complex components of reading together in a logical, easy to understand sequence.
Following that initial success, other students soon responded very much like the first student had. Some were taught individually or in small groups, while others were taught in regular school classrooms. They typically gained between two and six years in total reading skills after only 30 to 60 hours of instruction.
Many of these students had severe learning disabilities. The new method could not cure their disabilities, but it helped them to develop strategies for bypassing some of the defective parts of the brain. In so doing, they suddenly discovered that reading was no longer a problem. Today learning centers, clinics and schools around the world use the reading instruction method. Thousands of students of all ages who were previously doomed to a life of failure and frustration have seen lifelong barriers crumble.
One California school used the method in their first- and second-grades. While other schools in the area failed to reach a 50-percent literacy rate, the first-graders of that school scored an average of 3.7 [third-grade, seventh month] in reading while the second-graders averaged 6.2 [Sixth-grade, second month]. Every student scored at grade level or higher.
A severely dyslexic 55 year-old woman said upon completion of the course, "I feel that I've lived my entire life wandering in a long, dark cave, and now I'm in the sunshine for the very first time." Her reading level rocketed from fourth-grade to college level.
The reading instruction method has proven effective at every stage of learning from preschool to adult level, as the primary mode of instruction as well as remedial instruction for the learning disabled. It is called the Academic Associates Reading Course .
It is extremely satisfying to know that so many students have been saved from a lifetime of failure and frustration because of this simple, yet effective method of teaching reading, which any good teacher can use.
[If Dick and Jane were around today they would probably be held back a grade or two, so ineffective was the reading methodology with which they were taught.]
Using this method also helps with spelling difficult words.
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