I taught reading in an inner city school using a special curriculum. We were comparing my students to the rest (doing controlled studies). The students who were randomly assigned to me did way, way better. On average, they learned 60% to 1200% faster, depending on how the comparisons were made. They also made far fewer reading mistakes and knew far more "sight words." After ten years of steady curriculum refinement, I finally had sound evidence confirming I was on the right track.
The study data also held a surprise: The kindergarteners and first graders who beat their matching controls most soundly were those who had the most trouble paying attention. Short attention spans are often considered "deficits," but I maintain it's mostly just part of being a young child. It's one of two reasons children ought to start learning to read when they're a couple of years older. Right now, that's not very practical in the United States. Sir Ken Robinson has something to say about this in one of his famous TED talks.
The first study suggested that students with aptitudes in the top 10% (highly attentive fast learners of reading) needed to be pushed faster than I had been going. When my students were ranked and compared to their matching controls, the very best controls tied my very best students on the reading tests. We can attribute the impressive performance of these controls to helpful genes, strong parenting, and a standard reading curriculum that served students with high reading aptitudes fairly well, but left bottom half of the controls alternately baffled and daydreaming.
The day I was planning to resign due to the approach of covid-19, the school district finally decided to suspend operations--just in time. The virus was already spreading in one of the district's schools. I decided to work directly with parents for the time being. I still plan to reform reading instruction nationwide. You can keep my reform efforts on track simply by evaluating my methods for free.
The girl on the left is one of my students. She was not "cherry picked." Her mother was just the first parent to agree to a limited modeling contract. Cynthia (not her real name ) actually came from outside my last school. Her mother is a math teacher who wanted to help because Rails made sense to her. Her daughter, Cynthia, had already begun working on long vowels and multi-syllable words‑after just 42 hours of practice.
It's all about decoding: Decoding is the skill that allows a new reader to correctly pronounce a word she's never seen before. It's the most fundamental skill in reading. Cynthia will be decoding somewhere on a third grade level in another 20 hours or so. Because decoding is becoming automatic for Cynthia, her reading comprehension is already good for her age. Her comprehension will continue rising because she now reads for fun.
To make a long story short, this curriculum was essentially designed for Zoom. In fact, I switched all of my clients to virtual tutoring before I ever heard of the virus. Using Zoom, you can: