FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Dr. Shirley Miles, director of Department of Defense Education Activity schools, visited Fort Benning for information on reading programs available at the post's seven schools.

The DoDEA's literacy task force is examining current reading programs for struggling readers in hopes of standardizing offerings DoDEA-wide.

"We want to find out what program's have been the most successful so we can share them," said Miles, who has oversight of all DoDEA schools worldwide. "So when students move to a new post, they have some consistency and most importantly, sustainability in their growth."

Miles visited Dexter Elementary School Friday to observe the school's Read 180 program, a 90-minute, differentiated class customized to meet the needs of each student.

"Read 180 is an exceptional program," she said. "If it's done the way it's meant to be done, the program has shown phenomenal growth in reading. And there is also a sustainability factor. You can be in a program and do very well, but once you graduate the program, sometimes we see some regression. However, we haven't seen that in Read 180. It's had very impressive results."

Read 180 is generally a two-year program of instruction with the goal of reading comprehension. Of the students who graduated the program in the last two years, 93 percent had significant yearly growth, many of whom reached reading proficiency, said Kathryn Van Horn, Read 180's teacher.

The class is divided into whole group discussion, computer time and small group instruction. Students use computer time to learn new spelling words, test vocabulary and reading comprehension. During small group instruction, students can read independently and get one-on-one teacher time to help each student improve, Van Horn said.

"We tracked fifth-graders who graduated the program and went on to attend Faith Middle School and found their reading comprehension continued to grow," Van Horn said. "That's the success for this program. The strategies they learned here about reading and comprehension continued with them."

Miles said not only raw data, but anecdotal feedback from teachers such as Van Horn will be used to determine which reading programs could become standardized.

"In order to know where we are going, we need to know where we've been," she said. "We need to look at the scores and see what the teachers have to say. Their daily observations can tell us more about how successful programs are."

The standardized reading program recommendations are due in December to the task force. Miles said DoD schools could begin to see changes by the next school year.

Page last updated Thu October 22nd, 2009 at 18:32