Reading Plus for School
I’m going to start out by saying my issue is not with the Reading Plus program and its educational value. My issue is with how our schools are using it and more specifically grading it, our at least our school here in my local area.
This year my son’s middle school started using the Reading Plus system. The system’s purpose, of course, is to increase fluency in reading among other things. I took this from their site…
The Reading Plus® system has achieved extensive, documented success in increasing scores on high-stakes standardized tests and in producing substantial gains in fluency and silent reading, comprehension, vocabulary, and overall reading proficiency for hundreds of students in Grade 3 through college. Our award-winning system is used in thousands of public and private elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools. source: https://www.readingplus.com/about-us
To give you a little background of what I’ve seen these are the lessons that my son must do twice a week (again remember my issue is not at all with the system and it’s purpose and the fact that he has to do it)
How the Program Works
It usually starts out with letters or numbers (the child gets to select) flashing across the screen. You have to count how many times you see the number or letter that was given to you. The numbers flash from left, middle, right. Next a series of numbers or letters together will flash on the screen and you have to remember what you saw and enter them in in the same sequence. Each time the child does the Reading Plus these sequence of numbers or letters gets longer. So the first time may be three numbers but after a few sessions there may be 6. (Honestly when they are that long I can’t even get them right without saying them out loud).
Next is a session where the child must read paragraphs and decide what the underline word means. They are given four multiple choices. Usually with all three of these sessions above my son does pretty good. Then the trouble begins. Next is reading, and I admit my son is not a strong reader. He was in an IEP program in elementary school because he had issues with language. His brain just doesn’t switch as fast as others so it takes him a little longer to read and to comprehend what he is reading. The next two sessions are about a good 5 minutes of reading. The first portion the reading will start from the top and you have a paragraph to read as you take longer it will start to get rid of the top of the paragraph until the paragraph is gone. You select go when you are done reading.
After this you will read again going horizontal across the page as a bar scrolls across the reading, in this session you have to read fast and you only see a portion of the sentence at the time. So imagine a ticker scrolling across your screen and you have to read quickly. Once you are done with this 5 minutes of reading you have to answer questions about the reading. I’ve sat with my son to see how this works and I have to say some of the questions are tough. When you are concentrating on reading quickly sometimes you just can’t absorb all that you read. The last session is another figure out the meaning type of activity.
Issues with Florida Schools
Now all of this said, I don’t have a problem with the program and what it is trying to do. I think it is a great tool to help kids with fluency and learning how to pick out the important part of what they read. What I have a problem with is my son is GRADED on his progress. His grade has dropped more then a letter grade because the reading was so fast he couldn’t read it. He was crying because he felt he should be able to do it and he couldn’t, his self esteem was being effected.
I did contact his teacher about this and she was willing to help. She went into the system and slowed down the reading. What happens with this system is it is suppose to track your progress and adjust to what it believes you can do. That means the better you do the faster and harder it gets, so in order to get the system to back down a level you can handle you have to do bad first. So you have to get D’s and F’s for quite a few sessions before it will adjust itself. How is that fair?
I have a hard time with my son being graded with this program. This is not something you can study for, nothing you can do to practice to get better. I know Florida is not “known” for their education and we are continually trying to improve but I don’t see this as an improvement. I think the Reading Plus program has it’s place in the school system, I just disagree with being grading on it. I think this sound be a pass or fail type of situation. As long as it appears that the child is trying it should be a pass.
Note: I have sat down with my son and read it myself and told him all the answers. I ended up with a C, because the story we were reading was not something I was familiar with so to read it quickly in 5 minutes and absorb everything in order to answer questions I myself did no better then my son. I don’t see how this is helping our children.