I am presently a Chapter 1 Intervention Specialist at Arrowhead Primary School in Copley, Ohio. My responsibilities include working with and identifying students (K - 4) that struggle in the areas of Language Arts and Math. Your software has been an integral part of the identification, monitoring and intervention provided this past year.
I reviewed 3 Essential Skills programs: 2nd grade Leveled Readers, Graded Reading Comprehension Test and Graded Word Recognition Test. All three programs were well organized, user friendly and supported the other Essential Skills pieces I was also using. I used all three programs on my classroom smartboard and lap tops. I was able to track individual student progress throughout the year. The data was extremely helpful as an indicator during IAT and parent conference sessions. I found many positive features and a few glitches within each of the programs.
I used the Leveled Readers Grade 2 with my struggling 3rd graders. The students found the programs to be a refreshing alternative to paper pencil comprehension instruction. I was able to introduce the programs on the smartboard and watch the students enthusiastically interact at their own pace to the stories and comprehension questions. I also appreciated the vocabulary component to this software. It is challenging to create motivating activities that support the vocabulary. I also felt that having the story experienced twice supported the use of context clues and prior knowledge when addressing the vocabulary skills. I was able to monitor the student's efforts through the Marks Manager program. Often, I would be able to go back over a story all students had interacted with, use the data, and support individually the questions and skills needing assistance.
The Graded Word Recognition Test has also been a wonderful indicator for me. This assessment was non-threatening and engaging for the children. I liked that I was able to move to the next word without the child knowing if the answer was accurate or not. This seemed to take away some pressure for the children, providing more accurate results. This data helped me understand the child's sight word abilities or inadequacies. The choice of data presentation was extremely useful. I was able to show staff and parents the indicated levels of success and failure for the child in this area. I was able to chart the progress through the year as well. The test was swift and concise making it manageable to revisit 3 times a year.
I used the Graded Reading Comprehension Test as an indicator for independent reading comprehension. I would supplement this test with a DRA assessment for an oral reading and comprehension score. The students loved working on the laptops for this activity. It was again a nice change of pace to use the computers and encouraged the children to actively engage in the stories. I used this assessment at the 3rd and 4th grade levels. I liked the ability to manipulate the starting and ending levels for the students. I used the level data as level indicators but did not go by the grade level equivalent. I use this software frequently when asked to demonstrate what level the student comprehends at when working independently.
Both assessments and the leveled reading program helped me tremendously in documenting and charting individual progress. I plan to implement the use of the phonic and decoding programs along with the comprehension and word recognition test to create a well rounded look at my students' abilities, strengths, weaknesses and progress. Thank you for sharing and creating such effective tools that help me reach those students more effectively.