Filling A Gap
Brief, Age Appropriate Texts Combined with Ongoing Formative Assessment
A kit consists of two sets of reading texts at each grade level, one easy, one more challenging. Each set includes 15 texts, which have 4 paragraphs. The students read each paragraph, first with the recording of a competent, fluent model, and when the student is ready, with a peer. The student is expected to master each paragraph, reaching the level of 4 in fluency, accuracy, expression and comprehension, before moving on to the next paragraph. When the student has mastered the first three paragraphs, they are expected to prepare the last paragraph independently, without the support of a recorded Model.
The reading texts cover a variety of topics, and are both fiction and non fiction, though mostly short informational texts. They are written in an informal, conversational style most like that of the student audience. Students are able to choose from among the available texts as the proceed to the instructional setting.
Manageable, Appropriate Instructional Strategies.
Because the focus is on fluency and reading behavior, Score 4 Reading does not have to be lead by a certified teacher, although the person who is the "guide" needs to have training in the program, especially in order to assess progress. It is evident that one of the creators, Eileen Orsini, is a reading specialist with a firm foundation in classroom practice. The program was designed for 5 children at a time, who sit facing the "guide." Each child will listen and read the story with the CD and then whisper read. When the child is ready, he or she will go with a partner to a partner table, where they will read the part of the text they are working to their partner. After partner reading, they sit next to the guide at the table and so he/she can assess their progress.
The assessment is done by the guide with a running record. The guide is listening for accuracy (98% or higher,) understanding, rate and fluency. The Assessment Running Records are provided in the kit. They just need to be photocopied for each individual use.
The program is designed to be used in 2 to 5 sessions a week of 30 minutes each. The authors suggest it can be done in the classroom during "Everybody Reads" or another designated independent reading time, or during a daily "read aloud" session. They suggest the guide faces out to the classroom, and the students face the back wall.
The program could also be provided in an after school setting.
Score 4 Reading is designed to supplement and not supplant reading instruction. A fluency program like Score 4 Reading is designed as an intervention to help struggling readers "catch up" with peers who are successfully handling grade level material. A complete diagnostic profile for a struggling reader should be created before deciding if this is the right approach for a particular student.
At $800 per kit, the cost of this program falls in the middle of intervention programs. Reading Recovery (Houghton Miflin) is less expensive if it you purchase the teacher's guide and kit, and duplicate student materials. The cost would rise with the amount of student materials purchased. Direct instruction programs can be significantly more expensive.
The quality of the material is good, rather than excellent. Several selections I read had sentences that began with "and," which may mirror conversational patterns but is not generally accepted written English. The design appearance of the material is also amateurish, which does not effect the effectiveness of the program. It does distract, as both students and teachers tend to have higher expectations of publications.
This is a reasonably priced and very manageable program to supplement other elements of a reading program. For those struggling readers, this program looks like a great leg up. If this program fits your needs, check out the Score 4 Reading website and sign up for a webinar to find out the details.