The Language Vocabulary Acquisition Approach (LVA) to Reading Instruction is a revolutionary new approach to reading instruction for emergent and developing readers in urban settings. The Approach quickly immerses young urban children into print text, bombarding them with a preponderance of words, ideas and general understandings about their surroundings and the world in general. This process enables them to develop expansive word knowledge resulting in reading, writing and thinking competencies at or well above their grade level and national norms. As an "initial" step in the reading process it focuses on the printed text, words, words and more words rather than visual images, picture clues and illustrations. Research studies on literacy development support the use of printed text in children's "initial" efforts with print. Words, word constructions and vocabulary development are the beginning steps to the LVA approach. It begins with sight words, vocabulary words and moves rapidly to the use of short, repetitive text, written in paragraph form. The complexity of the text increases rapidly to story format. The text is integrated with Science and Social Science Themes. Teachers play a pivotal roll in relating their own personal experiences and in helping children to make cognitive connections that enable them to gain depth of knowledge of words and texts. Children are able to take the skills learned in the LVA Approach and apply them to children's literature and commercial text. The Approach was successfully introduced during the 2000-2001 school year to a first grade classroom taught by veteran-teacher Angela E. Davis (Davis), also author and creator of the Approach. It has since been piloted in three additional classrooms at the second and third-grade levels. What follows is a critique of a three-year pilot effort to improve the reading competencies of primary-age children at Bouchet Academy (Bouchet), a Chicago Public School (CPS) located on the Southeast side of Chicago.
"Chicago public schools are the worst in the nation," said William Bennett, former Secretary of Education (Collins 1992). While this statement was not well received by many within the school system, national test scores for Bouchet Academy (Bouchet) in reading comprehension suggest that there is an element of truth in Bennett's …