Precision Teaching Case Study Series Part 1 of 5: Teaching Sounds and Sound Combinations to a Developmentally Delayed Adolescent


This is the first of a series of 5 blogs on teaching reading skills to a developmentally delayed adolescent:

  1. Teaching Sounds and Sound Combinations to a Developmentally Delayed Adolescent
  2. Teaching Word Lists to a Developmentally Delayed Adolescent
  3. Teaching Story Reading to a Developmentally Delayed Adolescent
  4. Teaching Word Meanings to a Developmentally Delayed Adolescent
  5. So Why Don’t Schools Use Precision Teaching???

The Student

The student is a twelve year old diagnosed as being developmentally delayed. He lives in the U.S., although his first language is not English. He was enrolled in an academic tutorial program to prepare him for school entry. His program includes language, reading (decoding), reading comprehension, math, spelling, cursive and creative writing. In the beginning, attention was focused on developing fluent language skills, basic decoding skills and counting skills as a starting point for arithmetic.

The Tutor(s)

This student has had two tutors so far. His first tutor was a beginning primary elementary school teacher just about to start her first job. She taught him through June, July and part of August. His second tutor was a homeschooling mother who had successfully y homeschooled her four children.

Both tutors were trained in the Maloney Method by me using Skype, email and fax. I have yet to meet face to face with the tutors, the student or the parents involved.

The Program

The program includes:

  • All three levels of the Direct Instruction Language program created by Engelmann and Osborne. (450 lessons @ approximately 20 min./lesson)
  • Both levels of the ToolBox Series for Literacy and the final 2 levels of Teach Your Children To Read Well series created by Maloney, Brearley & Preece. (240 lessons @ 30 min/lesson)
  • Counting Skills created by Michael Maloney (50 lessons @ 15-20 min/day)
  • All 8 modules of the Corrective Mathematics program created by Engelmann and Silbert (500 lessons @ 30 minutes /lesson)
  • Corrective Spelling through Morphographs created by Engelmann and Dixon (140 lessons @ 30 min./lesson)
  • All 4 levels of the Corrective Reading (Comprehension) Series created by Engelmann and (335 lessons @ 30 minutes /lesson)
  • Quickwrite for creating a creative story draft in 8 minutes (daily lessons).

The Results

Since June, this student has completed:

  • All 450 lessons of the Distar Language programs
  • All 50 lessons of the Counting Skills program.
  • All 120 lessons of the Toolbox Series for Literacy.
  • 130 lessons of the Addition and Subtraction modules of Corrective Mathematics

He is about to begin

The Measurement Process

At the end of each lesson the student does a series of timed measurements. Four of these measurements relate to his decoding skills, These fluency checks test the student’s fluency with:

  • Sounds and sound combinations up to and including that lesson.
  • Word lists of words taught to that point in the program.
  • Story reading of a story constructed completely of words taught in the program to this point.
  • Vocabulary meanings of words already learned.

The Standard Celeration Chart Data

The first set of data describes the fluency checks for sounds and sound combinations. Beginning with Lesson 6, the student does a 30 second fluency check on sounds taught to that point in the program. A new fluency check is introduced after each block of 5 lessons. The new fluency check will contain all of the sounds and sound combinations of the last five lessons plus a random sample of all previously taught sounds and sound combinations. There are 11 fluency checks for sounds and sound combinations in the first level of the Toolbox Series for Literacy

To move to the next fluency check, the student must correctly identify 25-30 sounds or sound combinations in 30 seconds while making 2 or fewer errors. The chart below provides the scores for each attempt and the total number of days for the student to complete the 60 lesson program with fluent performances on all sounds and sound combinations.

Below the chart are copies of the actual fluency checks from Fluency Check #1 and Fluency Check #11, the final measure. You can see the changes in the degree of complexity that occurs between the first and the last fluency check.

This student completed all 60 lessons of the program in 9 weeks, usually working for three hours, 4-5 times per week. Approximately one hour of each session was dedicated to reading. He reached levels of fluent performance on a growing group of sounds and sound combinations during period of forty hours of instruction. By Lesson 60 he had mastered all of the sounds and sound combinations required to decode phonetically regular words.

In the next installment, I will present his data for reading word lists. The materials used in this case study are available on this website. Free training on the system and the first 10 lessons of each of the levels of reading program are available for free.

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