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Keys to Reading Success™ provides you with the tools and resources to make a difference in life of every student -- especially those who have not been successful in reading.
Impact on Learning

”2/3 of the students in grades 1-3 rose from 1-7 grade levels in reading above grade level in one school year. "In that one year, I learned more about teaching reading from this training than from my entire college education."  --M.S., Teacher, Farragut Elementary School.
Impact on Teachers

"The teacher training in reading is the best I have ever taken." --Special Education Teacher, Naperville Public Schools

"The course in how to teach reading stretched my thinking about learning. The material was practical, hands-on, and relevant. Excellent trainer. It is the best course I have taken in years." --High School Title 1 Reading Teacher,  Downers Grove, Illinois

"I now have some tools and tests to evaluate why some of my students are not learning and to  have techniques to teach to all my students. I recommend that every teacher take this training--it will open your eyes and hearts."  --Teacher, Aurora Public Schools


Questions and Answers

Teacher Section:

Why do so many children struggle to learn to read?

Answer: Reading is a learned skill. For some children, the process of learning to read occurs rather quickly in a relatively smooth matter. While it requires effort on the part of these children, the process is mastered quite easily, regardless of the instructional methods used by the parent or teacher. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) estimates that only 5% of children learn to read and write so quickly and easily. These children enter school with reading skills that enable them to read and comprehend words they have already seen and even those words that are new. However, this is not the case with many other children. Another 20%-30% of children learn to read with relative ease once they have been exposed to formal instruction, regardless of the methodology used. For almost 60% of children, however, learning to read is a great challenge – and for 20% - 30% of these youngsters, it is the most difficult task they will ever have to master in school.

Question: Which children are most likely to struggle with reading?

Answer: The poor, minorities, and non-native speakers are much more likely to struggle with reading. Results from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP, 1994) yield data that is cause for alarm. Seventy-one percent of African-American fourth grade students and 81% of Hispanic students were reading below grade level. We can add to these statistics the fact that twenty-three percent of Asian students were reading below grade level, and 44% of white students were below grade level. In addition, in California, almost half of the fourth-grade students reading below grade level were from homes where parents had graduated from college!

In a report to the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Reources, Dr. Reid Lyon, Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch of NICHD, explains that “…reading failure is a serious national problem and can not simply be attributed to poverty, immigration, or the learning of English as a second language.” [1]

Question: Are children more likely to experience frustration with reading as they enter higher grades?

Answer: According to Dr. Lyon, “It is clear from our NICHD-supported longitudinal studies that follow good and poor readers from kindergarten into young adulthood that our young poor readers are not used to such failure.  By the end of the first grade, we begin to notice substantial decreases in the children’s self-esteem, self-concept, and motivation to learn to read if they have not been able to master reading skills and keep up with their age-mates. As we follow the children through elementary and middle-school grades these problems compound, and, in many cases very bright youngsters are unable to learn about the wonders of science, mathematics, literature and the like because they can not read the grade-level textbooks. By high school, these children's potential for entering college has decreased to almost nil, with few choices available to them with respect to occupational and vocational opportunities. These individuals constantly tell us that they hate to read, primarily because it is such hard work, and their reading is so slow and laborious. As one adolescent in one of our longitudinal studies remarked recently, ‘I would rather have a root canal than read.’"[2]

Question: Is it necessary to teach all children basic reading “skills” or will most children pick up the skills if they are exposed to a lot of interested literature?

Answer: Thirty-three years of research focused on studying reading development have been funded by the NICHD. Over the course of twelve years, 21,860 “good readers” and 12,641 individuals with reading difficulties were studied to determine the elements of the ‘normal’ reading process and to understand the difficulties of, and identify factors associated with struggling readers. The research shows that learning to read English is a complex process that is not as easy or natural as many believe. There are critical skills that children apply to reading – whether they acquire those skills informally or formally. For example, children must learn how sounds connect to print in order to read words. They must learn to read words with fluency, that is, with sufficient speed and pace. They have to learn to read words automatically. If they read too slowly and with great labor, they will not be able to remember the words they are reading and they will not have created the conditions to allow meaning to emerge from the words. Children must be able to construct meaning from the words they read. The goal is to move students from “learning to read,” to “reading to learn.”

As the research shows, not all children are in need of the same level or type of reading instruction at the same time. The fortunate 5% of children who find reading to be an easy and natural process do not need the same kind of instruction as those 60% for whom learning to read is a challenge. They certainly have different instructional needs than the 20-30% of those who are challenged for whom reading is one of the most difficult of tasks they will face in school.

Question: What can teachers, especially those who have not been trained to teach reading, do to help?

Answer: With so many overcrowded classrooms, with so many children with different backgrounds, needs, skill levels and learning preferences, how is a busy teacher to identify what help is needed for each student – and what reading skills and instructional methods are most suited for certain students, but not others? How does the teacher determine, for example, which children will benefit from additional skills practice provided in a structured manner, and which may be bored or frustrated by such work? How can a teacher ensure that the right instruction is being delivered at the right time to the right students?

Teachers need to have the tools to quickly screen students to determine their current reading level, fluency, and comprehension skill level. They need to have the diagnostic tools to quickly and accurately pinpoint the specific gaps in reading skills of those students who are identified as below grade level. They need ongoing feedback on reading growth for all students to help ensure that every student is receiving appropriate instruction and help, regardless of his or her level of reading achievement. And teachers also need instructional resources to help them address the variety of their students’ needs. In short, teachers need to have the tools to screen for “who” needs help to catch up with others who read at grade level, the tools to diagnosis “what” specific help to provide their students; and the resources to provide the instruction.  The goal is to help all students build a solid foundation of reading skills and techniques so that they experience the joy and sense of self-esteem associated with reading to learn.

[1] Statement of Dr. G. Reid Lyon, Chief Child Development and Behavior Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, to Committee on Labor and Human Resources, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC, April 28, 1998.[2] IBID

Parent Section:

Question 1: My son's state reading test scores are low. When I listen to him read he stumbles over many words. How can I find out what the problem is and what can I do to help him?

Answer 1: There are four main areas that could be causing his problem. They are phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. A reading diagnosis needs to be made to determine: a) whether he can sound out or decode the words at the level at which the text is; b) whether he understands the vocabulary words at that level; c) whether he comprehends what he reads; or d) whether he can read fast enough to complete the test in the given time. I suggest that you select a book at his grade level and listen to him read to you. If he is struggling with many words, then a more thorough reading diagnosis needs to be made to determine which of the above 4 reasons are causing the problem. Once that is determined, then he can get help in the appropriate area.

Question 2: My daughter was diagnosed with ADD two years ago. She is on medication, but I feel that she has not shown any gains in reading in those 2 years. Is it hopeless, or is there something that can be done?

Answer 2: Many people assume that the medication for ADD is suddenly going to make someone a good reader. The medication may help the child focus better, but the child still needs to receive reading instruction in the areas that he or she needs. The medication does not teach reading; it helps the student stay concentrated. If your daughter is not reading well, then we must find out why. We should do a reading diagnosis to find out her gaps in the different areas of reading. Once that is done, then systematic instruction to fill in those gaps must be provided. It is definitely not hopeless. Over the years we have seen countless learners become fluent readers, including students with ADD. There is definitely hope. You are welcome to contact me with more specifics about your daughter's situation and I will be glad to help her.

Question 3: My 10th grade son used to do well in school when he was in elementary school and middle school, but now he is struggling and even getting C's, D's, and F's in some subjects. What happened to him and how can I help him?

Answer 3: It is not uncommon for some students to experience a more difficult time in high school than in elementary and middle school. Suddenly, there is a heavy emphasis on reading textbooks in the various content areas. There are also more tests and assignments. What I recommend is that you find out whether he can read the texts at the level at which they are written. A reading diagnosis can determine your son's reading level. Then we can compare that to the reading level at which the textbooks are written. If there is a gap, then your son's reading level needs to be raised through instruction in the areas in which he has gaps. Another cause may be that he can read and comprehend the texts at the level at which they are written, but he lacks solid study skills and test-taking skills. If he does not know how to effectively study for a test, or he does not understand the test format, then he may have trouble demonstrating what he understands. This is another area to look at. A third reason for his struggles may be that he lacks the vocabulary knowledge for the texts that he is reading. If he is missing many the meaning of many of the words, there are likely to be gaps in his comprehension. If this is the case, then he needs to build his vocabulary in the content areas. Once the proper reading diagnosis is made regarding his skills, then steps can be taken to raise his grades. Memory skills can also be taught. We have seen thousands of children and teens raise their grades by just by teaching them memory techniques. With the proper support your son can as successful in high school as he was in his earlier years!

How can I learn more? You can arrange to have an on-line demo from any computer with an Internet connection. Without leaving your school or home, see how this time saving, cost-effective, and proven program can help your students succeed.

Keys Learning: (630) 717-4221 or email: info@keyslearning.com


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