All twenty elementary schools and four middle schools in Laredo ISD in Laredo, TX, have incorporated Reading Assistant™ software into their resource classrooms in an effort to improve Special Education students’ reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
“We needed this program because over ninety percent of the students in the district speak Spanish at home,” says Alma Rodriguez, Assistive Technology Coordinator, “so it is challenging for many to practice their English reading skills with their parents. This program is giving them the feedback they need to develop fluency in English. In less than a year of using the program, the students in all grade levels are experiencing significant improvements. They are learning to love reading!”
Special Education students in all of the twenty elementary, four middle and three high schools have used the program an average of three days per week for about 25 minutes per session.
“We are seeing great results,” says Oralia Hinojosa-Cortez, Instructional Specialist at Katherine Tarver Elementary School. “The students are not only learning how to read better, but they are truly enjoying it.”
The four middle schools that have implemented the program into their curricula have experienced similar results. Sixth grade Special Education students at Cigarroa Middle School reading at the first and second grade level, for example, have made so much progress that they have become “Spotlight Readers” in a program which involves middle school students reading to younger students in elementary schools.
“I am extremely proud of my students,” says Rogelio Saucedo, Sixth Grade Special Education Teacher at Cigarroa. “At the beginning of the year, their reading levels were low. They lacked the confidence and motivation to read books. After being introduced to [Reading Assistant] and acquiring the necessary reading skills, students became aware of their potential. This allowed them the opportunity to read to the elementary school students in the Spotlight Readers program. It’s been very rewarding for me to watch their growth.”
“The accomplishments at Cigarroa Middle School are really extraordinary,” adds Rodriguez. “We wish that students all over Texas could have the same opportunity to overcome their limitations and to embrace reading.”
At Martin High School, Reading Assistant has been used in a program intended for students who have behavioral issues. Norma Garza, the teacher in charge of the program, noticed that Reading Assistant has helped students improve their reading skills, which has enhanced their self esteem.
“Often times, kids with learning difficulties are out of control,” says Garza. “If you want to change their behavior, you have to make sure that their learning challenges are being addressed. […] Reading Assistant is helping these students’ behavior improve by bringing them toward their grade level in reading. Also, they truly enjoy the different reading materials.”