Sunday, October 4, 2009

Twelve Years Old and Can't Read

I was watching CNN news this morning and Bryron Pitts, a Cnn News Commentator, just released his book about growing up and not being able to read. He was smart enough to get by and no one knew that he was unable to read. When his teacher finally realized he could not read she told his mother that she thought he may be "retarded". His mother refused to accept that diagnosis. She worked tiredlessly to make sure he got the help he needed until he completed high school and college. It is sad to say, but this story is not unusual.

This is why I take my hat off to the state of Alabama. They adopted the Alabama Reading Intuitive, ARI, which trained all elementary teachers in strategies to help the struggling readers with research based methods. They also placed a reading coach who received additional training and placed one in every elementary school building in the state. The reading coach is responsible for making sure the strategies are being implemented properly, train the teachers, and work with struggling readers. The state test every child, K-3, three times a year. With that data the principal, reading coach, and teachers determines who needs additional intervention to make sure every child is reading at certain benchmarks throughout the year. If a child is having difficulty, then a plan is developed and the child given additional instruction, a short assessment weekly, and changes are made if improvement is not evident. These reports are sent to local and state personnel who closely worked with the principals, reading coaches, and teachers to find out the interferences that may be keeping a child from reading on grade level.

This program has been so successful that school districts from all over the country are coming to Alabama to see what ARI is all about. I am the reading coach at The Academy for Academics and Arts, and can proudly say that we have successfully moved most of our students K-3 to reading on grade level or above and this is something to celebrate. This has been done with really hard work from the classroom teachers, who have been willing to change old instruction and old habits to advance every child in their classes. These teachers are also skilled, capable, professionals who are concerned with the progress of every child in the building. It is an atmosphere of professionals educators coming together and sharing good instructional practices for the advancement of every child.

There are research based reading strategies available and there should be no more Bryron Pitts going through a school system and reaching twelve years old unable to read. Parents you must get involved and support your childrens' education. For more information on things you can do, you can purchase my book, "A Parents Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6 Grades", from or go to


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This weblog is an extension of BestEducationPossible-theCommunity an online community dedicated to Parents and their efforts to empower their children through Education.

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