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FAQs

Does Reading Mastery teach comprehension?

Reading Mastery teaches all the comprehension strategies for which a research base exists, and more. Reading Mastery teaches comprehension strategies, such as analogical reasoning, deductive reasoning, inferences, use of evidence, domain-specific big ideas, and many others which the comprehension research has not yet been able to evaluate in isolation. Many of these strategies may not be effective as a single piece but when integrated into a comprehensive instructional program they are very effective. As a comprehensive whole we know these strategies are effective because of the overall effectiveness of Reading Mastery in raising reading comprehension achievement levels.

Does Reading Mastery teach higher level thinking?

Some claim that direct instruction works for teaching basic skills, but not for higher level thinking. Recent research indicates that this is not true. In fact, chil­dren with disabilities become higher level thinkers with direct instruction, some­times out performing their general education peers. A number of research studies showing these effects are found in the book, Higher Order Thinking, edited by Canine and Kameenui (1992).

Is Reading Mastery effective with ESL students?

Children learning English as a Second Language (ESL) who have been integrated in an English-speaking community for at least one-half year should be able to immediately begin Reading Mastery. ESL children who live in a monolingual, non-English speaking community will need preliminary instruction in English language for about 4 to 5 months. A phonic approach assumes oral language competence. After the children have a very basic fundamental English vocabu­lary, they will have the prerequisite language needed to make remarkable achievement gains with Reading Mastery (Grossen & Kelly, 1992a, 1992b).

Is there literature in Reading Mastery?

There is an abundance of literature in Reading Mastery. Included are classics such as Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, excerpts from The Odyssey by Homer, The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, The Wizard of Oz, and many more. In the instructional program some of these classics are abridged so that specific comprehension skills can be taught, developed, and reviewed. A companion guide for selecting literature that correlates with Reading Mastery and provides an opportunity for application of the comprehension strategies taught in Reading Mastery is available. Teachers are encouraged to provide these additional works as class reading projects or as independent opportunities for children to apply the comprehension strategies they learn in Reading Mastery. Because comprehension skills are so effectively taught in Reading Mastery, these additional reading projects will not be overly difficult for the children, and all students should experience success.

Why aren't any capital letters used in the first part of the program?

Many capital letters look very different from their lower case counterparts. For example, Aa, Bb, Dd, Ee, Ff Gg, Hh, Ii, Jj, Ll, Nn, Qq, Rr, Tt, Yy. Each unique capital requires specific instruction. In the Level I of Reading Mastery, children begin learning one sound for each of 40 letter-sound correspondences. The initial instructional focus is placed on teaching children enough unique letter-sound relationships to allow them to read stories that approach their language level, as soon as possible. Teaching the children the second letter that makes the same sound (the capitals) is the second focus. For example, the children learn one sound for d.

Why does Reading Mastery have scripts?

The only way to reliably replicate the high levels of success obtained with Reading Mastery across teachers and settings is to script the programs. Three reasons explain why scripting is necessary to obtain reliable replication: 1. Reading Mastery is carefully engineered for success. Every question and every example is field-tested. Then the program is revised to result in greater success for the children. Any errors the children make are evaluated to determine what within the program may have contributed to the error. Once the cause is diagnosed, the program is amended to prevent that error from occurring in the final version. Revising to prevent errors and misconceptions involves close atten­tion to detail--sometimes an additional example or non example is added, some­times an additional phrase is added to the instructions. This revision process has been shown to significantly improve the effectiveness of a program (Collins & Camine, 1988). Such a level of detail in the design and development of the pro­gram is crucial to its effectiveness. 2. Reading Mastery uses a wide and complex variety of teaching strategies that are carefully integrated to accomplish specific results. The expected results shift over time from areas such as deductive r&asoning, to learning about gravity and pressure, to using evidence to support inferences, and so on. The variety of the teaching strategies used and subtleties involved in their successful application make general models of teaching (such as model, lead, test) too vague and too simple to be sufficiently effective. 3. Reading Mastery encompasses a wide range of teaching goals and objectives in a variety of domains. Research is just beginning to see how dependent the selec­tion of specific teaching strategies is on the specific nature of the content being taught. The interspersed questions, in particular, may appear to be “the same strategy,” when actually there are a large number of comprehension strategies being taught, concepts being reinforced, and models being presented through the questions. To describe the individual teaching procedures involved in teaching these strategies would be very complex. Yet with the Reading Mastery scripting, all this instruction appears simply as interspersed questions. A teacher could not simply ask interspersed questions without the script and be able to accomplish the same results.

Why the special reading alphabet in Level I of Reading Mastery?

Traditional phonic-based programs have taught 100 to 200 rules for translating print into language. Many of these rules are very complex and the programs still have difficulty providing reading texts that are interesting, natural sounding, and comply with the phonic generalizations that have been taught. The Reading Mastery system is unique in that only 40 phonic generalizations are taught. Each letter has only one sound, making the rules easier to remember, and 100% of the stories the children read comply with the phonic generalizations the chil­dren have learned. This is accomplished by the use of the special orthography. The letters contain prompts to avoid some of the common problems young readers face. For example, to help avoid the common problem of reversing the letters b and d, b appears in regular type and d appears in a script font in the beginning stories. To remind the children that “th” together make one sound, the two letters are touching. These prompts fade after the children are more secure in their reading and have developed greater automaticity.

Will my students be confused when trying to write using regular letters?

The letters are not so different from regular orthography that they cause confusion among students, and none of the other letters differ significantly from the letters that are normally used in writing. By slightly adjusting some of the letters, Reading Mastery makes letter-sound learning easier for children. The letter most different is “a”. The children are initially expected to write a rather than a, because a is used in published text; a is only used in handwritten, block print. Yet a is sufficiently different from a to avoid confusion when children are just beginning to learn their letter-sound correspondences. Eventually the children learn that as another way to write a.