February 26, 2019

Reading Horizons Review: Arlene McKernan

Tags: Implementation, Methodology, Results, Student Stories

Eddie was just a boy and to this day, his father’s words, thirty-two years later, still echo in his mind. “Why do you need to learn? School and learning won’t make money. Work makes money!” Once, when Eddie was a young boy, he was caught trying to read from a comic book. In reprimand, his father scolded him and bellowed, “You need to know how to work, not read!” Then, he grabbed the comic book from Eddie’s hand and ripped it up.” (In retrospect, he meant well).
By the time Eddie was 12, he was working for his father, the Lead Fieldworker, 8-14 hours in the field, under the hot, blazing sun. For six days a week, Eddie was ordered to pick watermelons, cantaloupes and strawberries. Yet, all the plowing, gathering, cutting and lifting could never erase that secret desire deep down inside- to read. 
When Eddie was 18, an opportunistic door opened and he was immediately placed in special education classes for young adults, from 18-21 years. He was delighted to see how the school programs offered so many resources, such as a lunch card and hands-on job training. Eddie earned a diploma from the 12th grade and received enough high school credits to qualify for a job as a cook, upholsterer, or an automobile body work mechanic. While Eddie’s gratitude was abundant for the extra training, he wished they would have taught him how to read. 
Then, another secret became known to all who surrounded him and it was not about his inability to read. Eddie had started hearing “voices.” 
Time progressed, as did the voices. They cursed and paralyzed his entire world. So, he fought them off the only way he knew. All the running, hiding, physical fights and street drugs could not silence the voices. As a bucket of gasoline is thrown into the fire, the drug induced lifestyle only enflamed the symptoms of his mental illness. Finally, this indescribable hell was abruptly interrupted by law enforcement. After finishing his eight years in prison, CDCR offered help upon release. His parole agent and POC team were able to aid him and for the first time, he, his doctors and social workers had a handle on his mental illness. At that point, he was mandated by his parole officer to attend the Lit Lab. 
March, 2015, Eddie came to my classroom and was as shy as can be. His test scores placed him at an 81RX. His writing was barely legible and self-esteem, very low. Now, his reading and writing has improved remarkably. The markings taught in Reading Horizons help him decode and actually read words. Today, he is an entirely different person. He is talkative, friendly and willing to help anyone who walks through the door of the Lit Lab. His confidence has sky rocketed and the realization that he can read has played a big part of his social and academic growth. I have no doubt that the teaching modality used in Reading Horizon/Elevate played a big part toward his success.

***The Reading Horizons course referenced in the review above teaches structured literacy. Reading Horizons is a research-based reading curriculum that has helped hundreds of thousands of students, in many settings, learn to read.***

Grade Level: Adult Ed