March 01, 2019

Reading Horizons Review: Leigh Wheeler-Burrow

Tags: Correctional Education, Implementation, Results, Software, Student Stories

Offender Sanchez is a 19 year old young man who  had completed the 11th grade in school.  

When he was incarcerated and processed through our diagnostic center, he was able to avoid taking the TABE test by claiming he did not speak English.  When he arrived at TCF, he was initially placed in ESL until we realized he was not a foreign national and spoke English perfectly. We originally thought there was a clerical error in the record due to the indication that he completed 11th grade in public school.  After I interviewed him, he said he was passed along in school from grade to grade, he received special education services, and no one seemed to notice he could barely read. He instead listened very well and was able to get by enough; if something became too hard, he would go down to the Special Ed teacher and she would read work to him such as tests. Sanchez did not have a problem asking for help and certainly wanted to learn to read.

Due to the large number of students in my class, it is very difficult to spend a lot of one on one time with individual students. I placed him in the Reading Horizon's program using the diagnostic assessments.  We started with the assessments for sight vocabulary and vowel sounds. He assessed at a 2.1 on the sight words and was virtually unable to work with the nonsense words beyond the initial sound; his IQ is low average. Two syllable or longer words were very difficult.  

Sanchez was given the assignments and set up on the computer. I required one hour minimum per day and I also provided a splitter for the head phones so that another student (Gomez) could work with him.  Gomez also struggles with his reading, testing out with a sight vocabulary of 4.0.  Both students progressed steadily. After 3 months, I reassessed Sanchez with the Reading Horizons program and he was able to read sight words to the 6th grade level.  Initially he really struggled with the decoding rules; however, when he is able to speak them to himself, he does well.  Sanchez is a very oral learner, so having a partner he can talk to while doing the program helps.  He has also been able to take a TABE tests and was placed at the ABE II level.  While Sanchez is a long way from taking and passing a GED exam, he is at least able to read life skills material like directions, applications, and money related documents. 

Offender Gomez has made significant gains in his reading level also.  He has taken and passed four GED tests. He did take writing in Spanish, but the others have been in English. 

Grade Level: Adult Ed