Buried Treasures from the Vault


Part 1 of a Series

September 1980 – From the QLC Archives – The first published reading data using the Behavior Analysis, Direct Instruction, Precision Teaching amalgamated system now known as Maloney Method.


In January, 1979, Michael Maloney opened Quinte Learning Centre as the first private, for-profit, store-front learning centre in Belleville Ontario, Canada. He was helped by Eric and Elizabeth Haughton, Anne Desjardins and Pam Broad. Within a year, the learning centre morphed into a private school for 19 pupils, most of whom were special needs students.

Maloney and the Haughtons devised this system which they had previously brought to local schools because they were supported by their mentors; B. F. Skinner and his students Carl Binder and Bea Barratt; Zig Engelmann, Doug Carnine and other Direct Instruction (D.I.) Trainers; and Ogden R. Lindsley and his minions like Ray Beck. Maloney also had the steady hand of Hank Pennypacker to guide and challenge him for the past 35 years. Maloney wanted to repay a huge debt of gratitude to these mentors with real results for struggling kids.

From Michael Maloney: Each of the three methods had their special role. Behavior Analysis maintained order. Direct Instruction provided a successful teaching method. Precision Teaching measured success and drove decisions. Data on multiple pinpoints was collected daily by each student. Mandatory pot-luck dinners with all parents, students, siblings and sometimes Grandma, were held monthly. Data for the entire class was compiled and presented by the staff at these meetings. Students walked their parents through their personal set of Standard Celeration Charts (SCCs) explaining their success for the month.


Below is a chart for the students’ decoding frequencies for the first six months.

Standard Celeration Chart from 1980 – See / Say Story Reading

This Standard Celeration Chart (SCC) monthly chart shows frequency scores for 19 students over a 6 month period beginning in September, 1980 and ending in February, 1981. The story is taken from Lesson #11 of the Corrective Reading Program – Decoding Series, Level 1B, a Direct Instruction program.

These data indicate that there was only one fluent performer in September with a frequency score of 200 words/minute and zero errors. The median correct reading frequency across 19 students was 80 words/minute with a median of 7 errors. The poorest reader read 30 words/minute while making 12 errors. By mid-October, one half of the class was fluent with this story and had moved on to the next lessons. The median frequency for the class was 200 words/minute with the weakest student still making 4 errors. Once the student demonstrated fluency, they were advanced to different lessons and new fluency checks. This leaves only the non-fluent students to continue practicing and measuring this story while they were instructed in other reading lessons and were supervised in directed practice.


By combining Behavior Analysis, teaching classroom rules, using praise and encouragement, and ignoring attention-seeking behaviors, we were able to keep students working hard for long periods of time throughout the school day.

By using Direct Instruction, we were able to teach students core curriculum competently.

By adding Precision Teaching both students and teachers could see improvement on specific tasks each day.

This was the first time such an amalgamation of behavioural technologies was introduced to students at risk of school failure in a private school setting. This was the first time that data on a group of challenged students across a variety of basic curriculum became available to our discipline. In the four decades that have passed, this model has been adopted, modified and improved upon by our colleagues like Kent Johnson, Elizabeth Haughton, Anne Desjardins, Richard McManus and Ian and Aileen Spence in their schools and centres.


The improvements and adjustments will continue to perfect these methods, individually as components and collectively as a composite. Recently, Maloney Method created a digital reading program using this system. It delivers this model’s methodologies anywhere that there is a cell phone and stable Internet connection. With the assistance of the Amarok Society and Rotary International, this beginning reading program is being tested with success in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The program teaches children who are too poor to be able to attend public schools to read. Our science, in its various forms, is taking a leading role in the battle against illiteracy. Our history and our combined efforts will serve us well in this struggle.

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