March 01, 2019

Reading Horizons Review: Carol Stewart-High

Tags: Correctional Education, Implementation, Software

I used Reading Horizons for two years in a Juvenile Justice program in Immokalee, FL. All of our boys were incarcerated in a Marine-style boot camp for a six-month period. While in, our boys were in school six hours a day. Most students accomplished about a year’s worth of academic credit in the six months they were with us.

I used Reading Horizons with all students reading under fifth grade level. Students who were in grade levels K-3 did the entire program beginning immediately after starting school. Students who were grade levels 4-5 did the program from Lesson 8. I probably would have included grade level 6 students, but we did not have space to accommodate that many students with the CDs we had.

I found that Reading Horizons gave low readers the ability to make the sight-sound connection and to begin reading connected text on their own. Pre- and post-test scores showed improvement in word recognition in 89% of our students.

In addition to Reading Horizons I also used a phonics-based spelling series and a workshop model for reading. Students read connected text at their grade level for thirty minutes, five days a week. They also read out loud to a reading volunteer twice a week for thirty minutes. Reading Horizons provided a good foundation to allow connected text reading to develop in juveniles whose levels were significantly below their grade level.

I ordered the Teacher’s Notebook and Student Worksheets at the Drill Academy, as well as the software. I taught it about a year with students working on the computer at the same time. My students found it to be “overkill” to use both sources. They seemed interested in working on the computer rather than with the worksheets.

I found that putting a student through the program over a period of three to five weeks, working every day, provided the best foundation for my students.  That way they developed a foundation for reading connected text (which is the purpose of phonics instruction in the first place). I also tried stretching the computer lessons out over several months. I could not tell any difference in the result.

Reading Horizons is easy for students to use. I like the pre- and post-tests. Students loved seeing their progress. The initial diagnostic tool helped me quickly assess approximate reading levels.

I hope this letter is helpful to you. Thank you for developing products that help people escape the prison of illiteracy. I can’t think of any better reason for being on this Earth.

Grade Level: Secondary