For the past four years, the Title 1 staff at Lexington and Johnson Elementary schools in the district of Scott County, Indiana have been engaged in a no-holds-barred effort to help their struggling students enhance their core literacy skills.
Like many other teachers and administrators across the country, the Scott County staff knew that – despite their best efforts – a number of their students were still having trouble mastering basic reading skills, and many were falling behind. District administrators needed to find a solution that offered concrete, measurable gains in both classroom performance and statewide testing, without placing a prohibitive burden on staff time and resources. And they needed to find it fast.
Robert Hooker, District Superintendent
The answer was an innovative two-part solution that combined the district’s own ‘Minds in Motion’ pre-reading readiness program, with the AutoSkill International award-winning Academy of READING software intervention program.
“The combination of Minds in Motion and the Academy of READING created immediate, incredible results,” says Title 1 Coordinator and Reading Specialist, Candace Meyer. “The Academy of READING is the missing piece of the puzzle we’ve been looking for, for a long time.”
A powerful combination. Proven results.
Developed by Candace Meyer, Minds in Motion utilizes brain/body integration activities to help students develop the physical and cognitive skills they need to improve their reading. In essence, students take part in a series of balance, rhythm, eye tracking, auditory and visual exercises, which have been proven to enhance their creative expression, verbal, reading and handwriting skills.
The program was gaining success. But despite the initial improvements, a vital component of the solution was still missing. “Our next step was to find an intervention solution that had a proven track record of success, and would complement our existing reading programs,” Ms. Meyer explains. “It also needed to be clinical in nature, scientifically based and easy for Title 1 staff to use. The Academy of READING was the obvious and overwhelming choice.”
The AutoSkill Academy of READING software program is an accelerated reading intervention solution that focuses on such component reading skills as fluency, phonemic awareness, reading subskills and reading comprehension, to help struggling readers quickly achieve grade level proficiency. Designed to complement existing reading programs, the Academy of READING is a vital component of a balanced reading education program.
“We choose the Academy of READING because we knew it had already been used with exceptional results in schools across the country, including both large urban centers and smaller rural districts,” Meyer adds. “Plus, we were extremely impressed with the program’s focus on the principle of automaticity.”
Automaticity refers to the theory that complex skills like reading can be broken down into a series of smaller subskills. Through practice, these subskills can then be learned to the point where student responses are both rapid and automatic. Best of all, because automatized learning is permanent, the skills that are mastered are mastered for life.
On average, students who work on the Academy of READING for a minimum of just 25 hours show an improvement of 2.5 full grade levels in their basic reading skills, over the course of a single school year.
Sample Improvements on STAR® Reading Test Scores For Scott County Students After 10 Minutes of Minds in Motion Activities Followed by 20 Minutes on the Academy of READING
- A 3rd grade student gained 271 Scaled Score points in only half a year.
- Another 3rd grade student achieved a gain of nearly 300 points after 5 months in the combined program.
- A 5th grade student who had made only a single point gain during the entire previous year, realized a 232 point Scaled Score gain after just 6 months of working with the Academy of READING.
Realizing improvements district-wide
The resulting synergy between these two complementary approaches has been as powerful, as the student gains have been compelling. “After we started using the Academy of READING in November 2003, several of our Title 1 students began showing improvement almost immediately,” says Superintendent Hooker. As the year progressed, those gains became even more impressive, with many students showing several full grade levels of improvement!”
According to Ms. Meyer, several administrators were so pleased with the results that they are now working to expand the program, to help as many struggling and special needs students as possible realize improvements in their reading skills. “I truly believe that, with the Academy of READING, an end to the pervasive reading dilemma is in sight,” Ms. Meyer says. “The Academy of READING is an easy to implement and cost effective program, which seems to be working miracles right before our eyes!”