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Reading the Oakwood Way

Why Structured Literacy Matters:
Reading the Oakwood Way

Jeanine Cyrwus, M.Ed, Director of Outreach and Literacy

In October, the podcast, Sold A Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong, by Emily Hanford was published. It quickly gained momentum across the country because of its spotlight on reading instruction in the United States. 

Sold a Story claims current instructional practices used in the majority of public (and some private) schools are ineffective at best. The podcast dives into descriptions of how Balanced Literacy has been proven by cognitive scientists to be detrimental to reading instruction for students. If your child does not have a diagnosis of a learning or reading disability, it may be 3rd grade or later before they are identified by their school to receive additional support and resources. 

Why Doesn't Balanced Literacy Work?

According to Lexia Learning and other well-respected sources, only 30-40% of students will become skilled readers using Balanced Literacy. "These approaches (balanced literacy) are especially ineffective for children with dyslexia because they do not focus on the decoding skills these students need to succeed in reading." (International Dyslexia Association) Conversely, implementing explicit reading instruction that adheres to the practices employed by the Science of Reading will result in a 95% success rate for skilled reading. This figure includes students that have a reading or learning disability.

How is Reading Instruction at Oakwood Different?

At Oakwood School, we follow the research and have implemented evidence-based practices since our founding in 1971. We integrate the best practices of the Science of Reading through the elements of Structured Literacy. Understanding the way our students learn and providing the most effective program directly contributes to the development of our students as skilled readers. 

The principles and practices of Structured Literacy are observed in reading, phonics, and written language lessons each day, in every classroom, not just in reading or literature class. Oakwood teachers are trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach and utilize a curriculum accredited by IDA (International Dyslexia Association) and IMSLEC (Institute of Multi-Sensory Language Education). Our teachers take these best practices and multi-sensory approaches and integrate them into lessons across the curriculum. 

The efficacy of Oakwood's program for students with language-based learning disabilities, like dyslexia, is measured using formal and informal assessments. Formal assessments include qualitative reading inventories, diagnostic decoding surveys, and baseline and summative writing assessments to track growth. Some examples of informal assessments include the application of students' skills to daily reading, phonemic awareness activities, language comprehension activities, structured writing practice, and the cross-curricular application of skills with increased independence. 

With every classroom teacher trained in OG (Orton-Gillingham) practices and strategies and an academic team providing support - Oakwood students are surrounded by professionals that have the training and experience to help them learn and grow. 

Concerned About Your Child's Reading Development?

If you have questions about your child's acquisition of letter sounds or reading skills, contact our Director of Outreach and Literacy to set up a call to discuss your concerns. 


Additional Resources

Structured Literacy Sold A Story Podcast Balanced Literacy


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