You are here

SRA Corrective Reading Decoding A

I purchased a used SRA Corrective Reading Decoding A kit many years ago. Being a Direct Instruction curriculum junkie, I thought this was a wise investment. Thing is - I didn't understand how SRA labeled its curriculum kits - what is the difference between Decoding A and Comprehension A? Why is there a B1 and B2 kit? What is Decoding A anyways?

In 2008 I was a student teaching in a rural fourth grade classroom. What an eye-opener. The class contained almost 50% students reading below grade level. Of the 26 students, 2 of them could not read a single letter. After the first month of class, the regular education teacher gave up on those students (who were in special eduction receiving specialized reading instruction) and handed them to me. I knew what to do - start them on Decoding A. All I knew is that Corrective Reading is for kids in fourth grade on up that have failed learning to read or comprehend. This seemed to fit the bill.

Our first lesson established some of the ground rules: hand signals, following directions, doing your best, repeating when not answered correctly, etc. Trying to gain instructional control while keeping motivation high is not as easy as it looks. These kids knew they were being taught from the very beginning. They knew they should be reading whole words, not just a few single letter sounds per lesson. You could see the a long history of reading failure in their face. The first day I went home crying. This was not the first time.

After a few weeks, they willing came to the table to do their thing. I went super fast when I could, and slowed it down when needed. I challenged, reinforced, and constantly gave them a peek of what was to come in the future. They were starting to get it.

Thing is, I wasn't just teaching reading. I got this horrible feeling that I was teaching listening, following basic directions, and what "success" feels like. Essentially, these two did not seem to know what it felt like to try hard, work hard, and get results. I'll have to be honest, it made me question the whole education system.

Sadly, my student teaching came to an end. We were only in the teens lessons. I could see these kids learning to read, and read well. It was working but I had to go home and write up my papers to finish my certification program. Knowing I probably would never see the two students again, I worried they would never learn to read. Neither the regular education teacher nor the special education teachers were willing to continue the Corrective Reading program.

I have since learned that Corrective Reading is generally broken up into sequential kits. Each kit has a placement test so that you start the student in the right place:

Corrective Reading Decoding (for those kids that never learned to sound out individual words and/or make lots of mistakes thanks to whole language "guess and go.")

Decoding A (120ish lessons)
Decoding B1 (essentially B part 1) (65ish lessons)
Decoding B2 (B part 2) (65ish lessons)
Decoding C (120ish lessons)

Still not sure why there is a B1 and B2 but my guess is that there is a break point in there where students can be placed directly into B2 without doing B1 if prerequisite skills show the placement is appropriate.

For kids that are good decoders - they can read words fluently without making mistakes - but need help with recall and comprehension, you start them in comprehension series:

Comprehension A (120ish lessons)
Comprehension B1 (essentially B part 1) (60 lessons)
Comprehension B2 (B part 2) (65 lessons)
Comprehension C (120ish lessons)

Most kids really have a problem reading because they haven't been taught, painstakingly, how to sound out letters and words. They get behind. They are not learning vocabulary words because, hey, they can't read. Then they fall farther behind. The Corrective Reading series builds vocabulary from the very start of the Decoding program - sort of brilliant. It also builds comprehension from the beginning with Decoding starting with simple recall of one sentence, then two, then a paragraph at a time.

The only thing I can guarantee with this program is that *every* kid will learn to read and build vocabulary and comprehension. The only way to mess it up is with an instructor (teacher, parent, aide, para professional, ABA consultant, therapist) that *doesn't* follow directions and has little or no training (or can't read the teacher's guide).

Well, there it is. My take on the Corrective Reading series in a nutshell - complete with syntax and spelling errors.