Cracking the Code Literacy Program

You are 14 years of age with a reading age of 7. You cannot read or understand most of the text used in your Year 9 classroom. What do you do?

Is it surprising that you do not want to come to school, or that you show some cleverness in avoiding any incidents that showcase your difficulties, even to the extent of disrupting and disturbing the class?

At The John Berne School, less than 50% of our students are below their real age in reading and or numeracy.

After 2 years of daily one-on-one reading sessions, one student has been re-assessed as decoding and comprehending at the level of a 13-year-old; four years of improvement. It was struggle at times but the smile on his face when he saw his improvement was well worth the pain, time and effort.  

Therefore, each student is assessed on arrival. They are placed in a small group for a literacy skills lesson, which takes place four times a week. Some use a researched-based spelling program because spelling and decoding—the first part of the reading process—are so closely linked. Others follow a process to build on their vocabulary and comprehension, the highest reading skill.

If needed, students are given one on one instruction to make their decoding of words more accurate and automatic.

Every teacher is made aware of the needs of individual students and carefully structure the lessons in all subjects to help them cope but also build on the higher skills of reading.

Likewise with numeracy, each student is assessed so the teachers of Maths are able to tailor their lessons to help each student participate yet build up their competencies. One-on-one instruction is also used if needed; again a program that is backed by research.

Every effort must be made to bring each student’s basic skills up so they are literate and numerate. For it is too frightening to see their prospects in regards employment, well-being and social interaction without attempting to do that for them.

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