When was the last time you saw this help wanted ad?
“Ideal candidate will be functionally illiterate and unable to learn. Salary commensurate with lack of skills.”
If you just read it, you don’t qualify.
The only growth industry that illiteracy contributes to are prisons. Many inmates have trouble reading.
We can all agree that a primary goal of public education is to teach our children to read.
As I write this post my assignment schedule includes a trip to a meeting at Paso Robles School District office where more teacher layoffs will be discussed. Paso is not alone as funding shrinks across the state. One administrator said, during his career per pupil funding in California has plummeted from the top ten list to the bottom 3 in America. In the Paso Robles district the next year’s shortfall is in the neighborhood of $1,500 per student.
The concept presented was, the district can’t balance the budget by buying cheaper crayons. Staff cuts will be the result of less money from Sacramento. He expects within the next few years the nation’s wealthiest state will be dead last in funding the future of young students.
Reading is more important than ever as the job market evolves.
There is an art to finding out the best way to feed information to young learners. Not every student learns the same way. Those early years are a critical skill building time for young students. Often the first two or three years can smooth the path for future learning or leave boulders in the road. In some districts reading intervention programs are now in the budget cross-hairs, in other districts they have already been cut.
Turn the clock back about 40 years and it was a more optimistic time in the educational world. Research was helping refine teaching methods, especially for children who did not catch the first wave and were starting to fall behind. Today there are a variety of reading programs that districts can use to help get kids up to grade level.
The Lindamood-Bell learning process was founded in 1986 by Patricia Lindamood and Nanci Bell according to their website. Today they offer tutoring programs including math and reading.
According to daughter Phillis Lindamood the program grew out of research her parents did, like subject of this article from the early 1970′s.
February 7, 1972
Reading skills concern San Miguel
Trustees of the San Miguel Unified Elementary School district look to the future.
They want the children in their school district to be able to read, to understand what they are reading, and pronounce and write the the words correctly.
A year ago in January, with this in mind, they approved the introduction of the ADD, or Auditory Discrimination In Depth program, to supply the basics for the district’s special reading network.
Glen, Rose, district superintendent and principal at Lilian Larsen Elementary School in San Miguel, described ADD as “a preparatory program of auditory perception, basic to reading. spelling and speech skills, and complementary to any reading program.”
ADD is funded through Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act, a federal project for students from low income and from culturally or educationally disadvantaged families.
“San Miguel began ADD in mid-year,” Rose said, “and the program last year consisted of three teacher aides working with children in grades one through eight.
“Students left their classrooms and went to teacher aides for 20-minute periods each day. We tried to get the children in pairs, two at a time for each aide for the period. Then we took in two more for the next 20 minutes. This way we were able to serve some 60 children from January until June.”
During these periods, the aides worked with the children using ADD.
The innovative method was authored by Charles and Linda Lindamood of Arroyo Grande, and now is in use nationwide in many school districts.
Lindamood is a language instructor at Cal Poly, and his wife conducts a private practice in reading assistance.
The ADD program develops in students an understanding of the basic concepts of the sound structure of the language; the ability to discriminate likenesses and difference between speech sounds, both individually and in sequences; perception of the order of sounds in sequences and the shifts and changes of sounds within patterns, or syllables and words; and judgment of the correspondence between oral, or spoken patterns and the graphic symbol, or written patterns which are used to represent them.
“If a student doesn’t grasp the relation of letters to sounds, then he has a difficult time relating speech sounds when these sounds are spoken in both non-syllabic and syllabic units,” Mrs. Lindamood said.
“For instance, lets use the word ‘pat.’ its pattern of sounds are puh-aa-tuh. Unless the child understands these codes how will he be able to pronounce a word with the exact sounds but in a different sequence, such as ‘apt’?
“He must be able to perceive, through sensory cues from his ears, eyes, and mouth,, and identify the re-arrangement of the sounds from ‘pat’ to ‘apt.’
“Then he is able to see that, when we spell and read words, we are just using letters to show this changing relationship of sounds.”
Some kindergarten children, before they are exposed to reading and spelling, can judge these syllable contrasts, and their sensory system already has picked up these judgments she said.
Studies made by the Lindamoods showed however, that not all children do this.
In the past, we assumed that all children did, but after making out study, we found that some children are unable to obtain the sound-sight relationship by themselves,” she said.
“They tried to do it by memory, instead, which means that the child is unable to develop to his full potential because the memory task is too big.”
Now Jimmy and Mary, who might be anywhere from 4 to 40 years of age, have the opportunity to reach their full reading development, after their reading problems have received attention.
Rose stressed that ADD “is not a reading program, in the sense that you would use instead of some other reading program. ADD is a basic; it helps the child to learn what he is supposed to do in order to understand what his eye sees and what he writes.”
When ADD began last year, the entire student body of Lillian Larson School was given the LACT or Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization Test, to determine how well each student was able to distinguish individual sounds one from another and in sequence, and sounds within a syllabic pattern.
Records for each student were kept, and a group screened out and assigned to the ADD program with three teacher aides, as explained above. At the end of the school year the group again took the LACT, along with the rest of the student body.
The district reviewed the program last summer and the success of the children in the program, based on the test results.
“The group in the ADD program was tremendously improved,’ Rose said. “In every case, even those substantially below their grade level at the start, came up at least two grade levels, and many even more, as a result of the program.”
This sold the trustees on ADD, and they approved for the hiring of a fulltime teacher for the staff to continue the work along with a fulltime teacher aide.
Mrs. Pat Whaley is the teacher in charge, serving he children under the Title I federal funding.
In addition the classroom teacher at Lillian Larsen uses the same instruction in her classroom.
“So that teachers could do this, we have instituted a volunteer teacher’s aide idea,” Rose said, “and it is working out very well.”
The aides free the teachers, who then can give individual attention to the students needing it during the regular school hours.
Teachers included in the volunteer aide project are Mrs. Vera McKanna, second grade; Miss Shirley Lusby, third grade; and Mrs Janet Johnston, fourth grade.
The volunteer aides are Mmes. Lynn Schmitz, Lois Arnett, Hilda Hampton, and Pat Powel. The four women have no children in the school in the Title I program, but are volunteering their time to help all of these students.
“In fact, Mrs. Powel is not a parent at all,” Rose said.
“Her husband and those three of the aides are stationed at Camp Roberts. Mrs. Schmitz is the only local mother of the group.”
These aides work directly in the classroom. While the teacher is working with a small group of five or six students, assisting them with reading problems, the aide is helping the remainder of the class with regular school work.
Equipment used in the reading program includes the regular state-adopted text books for each grade level, Rose said.
This is supplemented by the material used in ADD, plus teacher-constructed materials.
Mrs. Lindamood and her husband have learned through their extensive research and studies, that all students who have received ADD have been helped by it.
“We’ve had no instance where the program has failed to raise reading ability, even when youngsters who previously had been given up as hopeless,” she said.
“A teacher is able to raise the average child’s reading ability by three or four grade levels. In one instance we had a student go up seven years in grade level.”
The Lindamoods believe that everyone has the right to read, and that millions of dollars are being poured into the development of reading programs.
“It will be very singular if further research reveals the problem is not which reading program to use, but whether the student or the adult, has a perceptual base from which to relate to any reading program,” she said.
Preventative training at the kindergarten level might be the key to the adult’s reaching his full potential of mental and spiritual development.
San Miguel is going to find out.
The photos were unbylined.
Full disclosure: I have vested interests in this story. Literate people are more likely to buy a newspaper. In addition my wife is a second generation teacher. We both earn our living based on how much society values reading.
Yet even if you don’t have a paycheck related to education you have a vested interest in making sure kids can read. Becoming a productive member of modern society requires the ability to constantly grow skills over the course of a lifetime. We can teach kids how to learn, or we can deal with the more expensive social ills of having a pool of poorly equipped adults.
“You can pay me now or pay me later,” as the old ad used to say.
Much of America’s success in the 20th century can be traced to a population that had a solid public education. Nations like India, Ireland and China have recognized this connection and made education a priority. They have seen economic improvements and growing hope for their citizens.
We are no longer competing with a school house down the road, the game is now international. Will we be ready to play?
Post a comment with your opinion.
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