Sep
26

Case Study: 2 Grade Levels in 36 Hours

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Introduction: Working With Foster Children

In March, 2008, my learning centre, QLC Educational Services, was contacted by the Highland Shores CAS to determine if we could assist 11 foster children in their care who were thought to have reading problems and as a result, were behind in school.These children were a few of many foster children at risk of school failure as a result of poor literacy skills. Current statistics indicate that almost 60% of foster children never graduate from high school. We agreed to establish a pilot project with 11 students to determine if our Maloney Method system could produce rapid reading gains to assist these children at school.

Method: Direct Instruction & Behavior Management

The students were selected by their caseworkers in cooperation with the foster or kinship parents. Students were interviewed and pre-tested using Form A of the Towre Test of Word Reading Efficiency at QLC Educational Services prior to beginning the project. The students were then assigned to one of two groups for their weekly after-school classes. Students attended for 16 weekly sessions of two hours each. Students were involved in a token economy behavior management system in which they earned points both as a group for appropriate behavior and individually for improved performance on their sounds, words and story fluencies. Earned points were recorded in a bank book and could be exchanged for gift cards to a store of their choice.

Data Collection: Precision Teaching

In each session, staff collected  fluency data on each student’s learning of sounds, words, and stories. These data were recorded and summarized weekly. At the end of the 16 weeks, a post-test using the Towre Test of Word Reading Efficiency was administered to each student.

Reading Curriculum Materials: The Toolbox Series

Students were enrolled in a 60 lesson decoding program using the Maloney Method. The Toolbox Series for Literacy Series, Level 1 was used with all 11 students.

Results

Pre and post test measures of the Towre indicate an average increase of scores equivalent to a two year increase in grade level for reading after 36 hours of small group instructions

We were pleased to partner with Michael Maloney in the pilot project that confirmed our beliefs that with the right approach and support, children in care could develop their educational potential. Following the success of that pilot, we have developed a wonderful working relationship with the Maloney Method staff which allows us to assist many more children in reaching their dreams

– Angus Francis, Highland Shores CAS

Discussion

The results are due to three aspects of the Maloney Method. The behavior analysis component was effective in keeping these students attentive and cooperative. The Direct Instruction method built into the Maloney Method allowed the students to quickly understand the process of decoding and to be successful at improving their reading skills in a very short period of time. The Precision Teaching measurement component provided accurate tracking of progress and of any problems so that students could easily see their progress and be encouraged by it.

The results of the study were presented to the agency and a decision was made to establish the Rising Stars program to assist other foster children associated with Highland Shores who were challenged by literacy issues. The Rising Stars program is now in its fourth year and has successfully assisted almost 200 local foster children with issues in reading, math and secondary school credit courses.



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