Raising Reading Achievement
Most children require explicit instruction to successfully learn to read.
In order to raise children's reading achievement, we must change reading instruction in the classroom. SAReads provides training, instructional coaching and tools to help teachers acquire the specialized science-based reading instruction (SBRI) knowledge and skills to successfully teach children to read.
"Code-emphasis instruction is necessary in the early grades because most reading problems unfold in the very beginning stages of literacy acquisition. The most important insight of modern reading research has been the recognition that phonics instruction may not 'take' with young readers unless they are aware of the segments of speech represented by the graphemes used to spell words." Louisa Moats
This specialized knowledge is difficult for teachers to acquire through typical teacher education channels. SAReads addresses this need in two ways:
- Preservice Teachers: Instructors at Texas A&M University - San Antonio College of Education and Human Development design and implement research-based literacy instruction courses. SAReads provides experience so preservice teachers enrolled in literacy instruction courses learn to use SBRI methods while they tutor elementary students. SAReads provides these tutors with instructional support, materials and tools.
- Elementary Teachers: In partnership with Southwest ISD, SAReads provides SBRI training, coaching and support directly to classroom teachers in eleven elementary schools. Training is followed by ongoing coaching and teamwork in a culture of collaboration. Teachers apply SBRI in their classrooms and student achievement is improving dramatically. Thousands of students benefit from school-wide SBRI across eleven elementary campuses. In partnership with Southwest ISD, SAReads is developing a model to demonstrate that optimal literacy is possible through coordinated efforts to improve reading instruction. This model will be replicated in other school districts.
The more teachers know about the English language and how the brain learns to read, the more they are equipped to assess students' reading abilities and provide the explicit instruction that keeps children moving forward. Phonemes are the sounds that make up spoken words. Here is a way to check your own understanding of phonemes. How many phonemes are in these words: ran, rain, reign, ate, eight and straight? (Answers on page 6.)
Systematic instruction is critical. If teachers teach the harder phonemic awareness tasks before children have learned the easier ones, many children will fail to develop phonemic awareness. These children will struggle with more difficult reading skills that require phonemic awareness, such as using phonics to decode unfamiliar words.
Finally, many teachers must pay out-of-pocket to purchase books for their classrooms. The SAReads Book Bank provides over 45,000 books each year to Bexar County teachers free-of-change.
The goal: all children achieve reading proficiency. SAReads ties the impact of all teacher and tutor training directly to student reading outcomes. We evaluate reading outcomes using data provided by the school district (IStation and STAAR), the same data used by school administrators and the State of Texas. The majority of students can learn to read successfully at elementary schools that establish a complete literacy support system and build the SBRI capacity of teachers... exactly what SAReads is doing.
"Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery." Horace Mann