New Reading Program Shows Drastic Improvement at High Road Academy

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School officials at High Road Academy in Washington, D.C., have seen a vast improvement in reading among students since they introduced a reading intervention program, which uses techniques such as repeated reading and requires students to track their progress.

Karen Remington, an English teacher at the academy, recommended “Reading Naturally” to the director, who later agreed to implement the program. Remington started the program in the fall for her nine-to-12-graders with learning disabilities. So far, she said students have been more engaged and their reading fluency has improved.

“I have students that have increased two levels,” she said. “It’s better than anything I’ve seen before.”

Remington said students receive 10 passages in their folder from which they can choose to read. Students read their choice aloud to a teacher who acts as timekeeper. Then, the teacher records the number of words read correctly in one minute. The instructor will read the same story aloud so students can hear voice inflections and proper pronunciations.

The independent approach the program offers, where students must monitor their own progress, helps engage students, Remington said. “They are really competing with themselves in terms of rate,” said Remington, whose students range from 15 to 21 years old. “They actually chart everything themselves and they can literally see their performance.”

Students use a computer program to read their passage before they read it aloud to their teachers again. Remington said the repeated reading structure of the program allows students to improve their decoding and comprehension skills.

“By listening to it several times, they are incorporating new words into their vocabulary,” she said.

But Mary Rinder, the director of the academy, admitted students had a rough start with the program. “There was some resistance in the beginning, but over the course of the year, it’s done just well,” she said.

Rinder said the most significant improvement among students in the program has been their interest.

Parents have said their “kids are coming home and are excited to see how they are doing,” Rinder said. “Students, who refused to read aloud, are now able to read.”

Rinder said the school has been administering a post test for a more calculated, statistical rate of success for students in the academy. A pre-test was given in the beginning of the school year.