The main belief underlying this recommendation is the idea that successful reading practices in high schools particularly, should be based on conclusions from thorough evidence-based studies. The international technological and economic transformations in progress, demanding reactions from a progressively skilled labor force, create evidence-based, first-class education an essential element. Within the education structure, how reading is taught is particularly significant since reading competence is an introductory point, both for academic-based learning, and for children’s psychosocial and behavioral welfare, advanced training and education, career accomplishment, as well as for the state’s future.
The design of the program will include several different elements that will collectively develop a workable reading program for high school students.
The main function of reading is divided into two associated processes: deciphering words and understanding them. For children to turn out as exemplary readers, they must be clearly trained all the reading skills and approaches to deciphering and understanding words. The main elements of reading such as expansive vocabulary, textual features, fluency and universal knowledge are imparted to the children through the following processes: collaborative reading, reading to the children, discussions on the literature and experiences with language. Although the program being developed is independent, several best reading practices form a vital part of the program. These best practices are outlined in the next section.
Explicit word analysis: One of the skills, an explicit word analysis that includes phonics, helps in developing the word bank in most children, as well as directly teaching them the approaches and skills to analyze words. These skills include vocabulary, recognizing words and structural analysis.
Assessment: Teachers also closely and regularly monitor the reading levels of different students as this inspection materially assists in guiding the instruction process.
Learning standards: Instructors are constantly facilitating the study of different English aspects with the state or county standards in mind. Several learning standards exist for instance English Language Arts standards and other state benchmarks.
Reading for purpose: The instructors instill a sense of reading for the purpose among the students by availing the different reasons for reading books. The students can also be provided with opportunities to discuss and write what they learnt in class.
The main components in the reading program include silent reading, reading aloud and book discussions. The silent reading component allows students to have their own time to read books chosen by the instructor, respond to any queries and make observations on the student’s reading behaviors. The program contained a goal of 30 minutes of quiet reading. The book discussion component allowed the students to have constructive discussions on what they read and learnt during the silent reading session. Each student in the reading programs is awarded a limited time to talk. The last session, reading aloud, involved building confidence among readers by exposing them to the same audience made of their peers. By reading aloud, students would be able to develop a sense of rhythm and develop a connection between hearing and reading words.
This program was customized to fit the general structure of most public high schools. However, there is an element of commercial reading programs adopted in the customized version. These elements were drawn from the ‘Accelerated Reader’, a reading encouragement program that was developed by Perma-Bound organization to promote student-driven reading, give the teacher information on the students and assist in evaluation.
Most reading programs, including summer reading programs (SRPs), have been introduced in most public high schools since stakeholders started taking an increased attention on children’s education. Judging with their popularity among parents and teachers, reading programs are extremely crucial in promoting reading among secondary level children in societies across the world (Rodrigo et al, 2007; p. 39). Through several studies, it has been noticed that, in the course of the numerous interruptions common in high school, reading skills often deteriorate. This occurrence is normally referred to as summer reading setback as it happens mostly during the summer break. One constant observation from several research studies is that the deterioration in reading skills, probably the outcome of inadequate reading behaviors, is very real. Children living in poverty are the ones most affected by the interruptions that give them difficulties in reading (Groark, 2007).
A large number of students in high school are restricted by low literacy. This issue affects learning in all topics since literacy is vital in releasing content knowledge in all aspects of the curriculum. As the amount of literacy increases, there is a similar increase in the possibility that students grasp more thorough class work, have an ease in demonstrating the mastery of these concepts, and are more prepared to advance to higher levels of education or tackle current challenges in the workplace. Surprisingly, over a quarter of all 11th grade students registered a score that was below average meaning they were unable to recognize the main idea in the books or passages read (Rodrigo et al, 2007; p. 87).
This number was even more in the lower grades where three quarters of the students started high school with noteworthy reading troubles and deficiencies in the skills necessary to understand compound texts given to them in the class. This inability to properly study was a major cause of high school dropouts. Another fascinating observation was that students from low-income backgrounds illustrated the highest levels of low literacy rates (Groark, 2007). However, in secondary school, reading is not taught as a subject and, therefore, most students end up carrying their reading problems into high school where they are compounded (Banta et al, 2009).
Several benefits are associated with implementing reading programs in high schools. These benefits can be categorized into two key groups: academic and social benefits with academic benefits being subdivided into immediate benefits and long-term advantages to both the student and teacher (Rodrigo et al, 2007; p196).
In terms of academic benefits, students who enroll for reading programs record significantly changes in their reading skills. Using scientific devices to record the changes, studies on reading programs discovered that students who took part in reading programs were on average 52 Lexile points ahead of their colleagues who did not attend the exercise (Rodrigo et al, 2007; p371). The Lexile Framework for Reading is an academic device that used Lexile Points to categorize the level of a reader in terms of speed, capability and fluency. The Lexile tool applies quantitative methods that collect data on the performance of a reader and illustrates this information in graphical outputs that serve to show the level of a reader. The results of studies by Barbara Heyns serve to reinforce the validity and advantages of reading programs among students who took part in the exercises. In her conclusion, Heyns stated that the extra time spent on reading books and doing assignments in reading programs significantly boosted the vocabulary scores for students when it came to assessments.
Socially, reading programs develop reading relationships between the instructor and students that are essential for comprehension, communication and cooperation (Banta et al, 2009). Reading programs achieve this feat by being different in their approaches and implementation. Normally, classes in high schools place students in one class under a standardized curriculum and lesson plan. The main purpose of such ordinary classes is to impart a common concept from a subject in a similar manner. This method ignores most of the cognitive and emotional processes that are necessary in learning. Through reading programs, children having psychosocial issues can learn to be more confident, have a higher self esteem and this will result in improved reading levels (King, 2011). The teacher can also use the reading programs as an opportunity to discover the unique qualities of each student and this increases their knowledge of where the reading problem lies.
Hiring of project administrator2 weeks (15th – 31st Aug)Principal$2,500Hiring of school facilitator2 weeks (15th – 31st Aug)Principal$2,000Re-appointment of school teachers/ hiring (4)2 weeks (15th – 31st Aug)Project administrator$500* 4=
Parent representative2 weeks (15th – 31st Aug)School facilitator$6,000Learning materials (books/ pens/ chalk etc)2 weeks (15th – 31st Aug)School facilitator$5,000Services offered to students (refreshments/ trips/ entertainment)4 days (17th, 21st 27th and 31st Aug.)School facilitator$7,500
Students’ Delivery Schedule
The student is the most indispensable player in the education system. He/she should be considered in the process of developing a program that will intervene and rectify the reading problems that are experienced by the larger number of high school children. The schedule to introduce and successfully carry the students through the reading program is as follows.
Training the students in book thinking
Book thinking can be defined as the approach towards reading that concentrates on teaching students how to think while reading a book. This involves reading and evaluation skills that allow the student to understand the message and other information behind the text in a book. Teachers should understand that book thinking is a continuous developmental process, and setting the stage for the beginning of this process is an important part of improving the reading skills among students. All the subjects in high school have different textual characteristics, and the explanation of these features to students will require clarifications on the pronunciation, vocabulary and application. Through book thinking, students can begin to comprehend the concepts that are illustrated in books.
Alternative Reading Courses
Students should be provided with optional courses that can allow them to improve on their individual reading prowess. Some of the elements that are handled in these optional courses include exercises that improve the speed and other reading skills. This can be implemented in the form of a reading lab within the school.
Students having critical problems with reading should be given specialized help. These experts may be seasoned English instructors, librarians and other academic players that have a sound background in reading. These specialists can be placed in an accessible position where they can be used as reference points by students having difficulties in comprehension and reading books.
Teachers’ Delivery Schedule
Conversely, teachers play a major role in determining how fast and well students can read without assistance. With this as the main objective, instructors can implement the reading program under the following principles and guidelines.
Training of Teachers
The reading program briefing commences with the training of teachers that will facilitate the whole training for the instructors in the high school. The training of instructors will cover all aspects of teaching that will be taught to students and will be coordinated by the school facilitator, as well as the project administrator. Teachers will be instructed on the proper usage of learning material, psychological methods and other methods of imparting skills to students. It is imperative that this process be done a short period before the actual reading program initiative is implemented. This will give the newly trained instructors an opportunity to internalize their roles and knowledge.
Training of the Students
The next step in the schedule is the training of the rest of the instructors on topics covering reading. The trainers should then relay the same concepts and skills that they were given to the students. This process ensures that all the teachers can access the same information concerning how to conduct reading exercises efficiently.
The reading program will be initiated as an intervention initiative that will seek to improve the reading situation in high schools. The selection of students that will participate in the reading program exercise that is scheduled to take place during the August recess starting 15th August will be based on a set of criteria as follows:
Overall academic performance: Students will be subjected to several reading tests after which individuals having below average scores in the exams will be short-listed for the exercise. The pass mark for the examination will be set by a joint board of English teachers who will also deliberate on other benchmarks of the reading program.
Special physical and cognitive disabilities: Students having known cognitive and physical complications or disabilities will be given a priority and enrolled for the reading program exercise with the intention of allocating them undivided expert attention. This category of students will undergo additional training on how to maximize on their strengths to possess excellent reading skills.
Recommendations from other instructors: The teachers are in constant contact with the students and will be expected to make recommendations, where necessary, of students that may benefit from the reading program. This privilege is based solely on their professional analysis and is not a compulsory part of the criteria.
The instructors in most high schools prefer hiding the fact that their students are experiencing reading problems. To that extent, they usually engage in solutions that embrace avoidance of the whole issue. Instead of finding an intervention, most teachers reduce the amount of text that can be read in their curriculum or lesson plan. By reducing the amount of text, it only serves to expose the students to less material to exercise their English reading skills. However, the answer should include a collective decision by the teaching staff to change their approach and tackle the needs of the students. All the instructors should be well versed in book thinking concepts as this will provide them with a foundation that can be transferred to the students. Using this approach, the outcomes will be highly positive, as the reading classes will improve the vocabulary, reading speed and comprehension levels of the children.
Banta, T. W., Jones, E. A., & Black, K. E. (2009). Designing effective assessment: Principles and profiles of good practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Groark, C. J. (2007). Evidence-based practices and programs for early childhood care and education. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.
King, F. (2011). The role of leadership in developing and sustaining teachers’ professional learning. Management in Education, 25, 4, 149-155.
Rodrigo, V., Greenberg, D., Burke, V., Hall, R., Berry, A., Brinck, T., Joseph, H., Oby, M. (2007). Implementing an Extensive Reading Program and Library for Adult Literacy Learners. Reading in a Foreign Language, 19, 2, 106-119.