For decades, educators have attempted to bring about significant gains in older students who've fallen behind in reading. The problem has become pervasive across the country, with nearly 70% of eighth grade students reading below basic (the lowest rating) on the last National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the nation's report card.
The cost of reducing middle and high school teacher/student ratios is prohibitive. Teaching the basic strand of literacy through multiple programs has been ineffective. Student test scores have not improved. The implementation of LANGUAGE! The Comprehensive Literacy Curriculum in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is reversing that trend. The structured approach of LANGUAGE! has resulted in significant student gains in fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing.
"For all students--including minority, at risk, economically disadvantaged, and special education--to achieve at a high level, they need specialized tools to get there," states Ron Klemp, coordinator of secondary literacy for LAUSD, "but it's also clear to us that training for teachers is every bit as important." In fact, LAUSD's approximately 35,000 "at-risk" students in grades 6-10 may be getting the best of both worlds with LANGUAGE!, a comprehensive literacy curriculum published by Sopris West Educational Services (www.sopriswest.com). Klemp explains that LANGUAGE! teaches and builds upon the basic elements of literacy development: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, spelling, writing, and reading comprehension. As students master these skills, LANGUAGE! moves them into more complex areas of literacy. They acquire the high-level skills necessary for success in all content areas, such as critical thinking, contextual analysis, and persuasive writing."
Since LAUSD introduced the curriculum in July 2002, the results have been encouraging. …