A mom of a fifth grade child, Alison, who had some reading issues (decoding, fluency, etc.) asked, "Was this a problem that could have been averted?

My answer:

"There are essentially two categories of kids. In the first category, these kids get out of the gate smoothly. The road may have a few pebbles, but it is a pretty easy ride from first grade forward. With the second group, this is not the case. The road has many more potholes. These potholes could have been identified much earlier."

If I were in charge of the whole education system (or King of the World) the answer would be very simple. There are powerful screening measures that can be given very early (kindergarten, first grade) that take about 15 minutes per child to complete,

From the screening three essential groups would be identified:

  • Group 1 = those who are "Good to Go" or Green Zone Kids (about 60% of the population)
  • Group 2 = those who are showing some signs of caution or Yellow Zone Kids (about 30%)
  • Group 3 = significant to severe signs of caution Red Zone Kids (about 10%)

Of the 40% of the kids showing signs of concern, just giving them the regular curriculum (stories, literature, whole language, etc.) is not what they need. The ones in the Yellow & Red groups need much more structured, sequential approaches to reading development.

Unfortunately, for the Alisons of the world they are often not screened, nor are they given structured approaches. They read literature and stories that have no discernible, layered sequence of skill mastery. Then in the later grades they stand on a foundation of balsa wood.

It would be so easy to screen these kids and give them what they need, but then again, I haven’t been made the King of the World and no one’s asking my opinion!!!