“Ten Ways a Parent Can Improve Their Child’s Reading Comprehension at Home During the Coronavirus Crisis”

  1. Turn every lesson into a language lesson.


Pre-teach critical vocabulary. Set the stage. Never use the book to introduce — use the

book to reinforce. Have words for the day, paragraph for the week, passage for the

month, and so on.


  1. Read aloud every day.


Reading aloud is an extremely effective tool for improving reading comprehension.

Discuss what has been read. Explain new terms, figurative speech, and idiomatic

expressions. Read a novel a month orally.


  1. Expand their background knowledge.


Talk about new themes. Discuss new experiences. Bring in new items. Remember: Build

on their base. Never forget that reading is relating.


  1. Say it again.


Learn to be “creatively redundant.” How many times and how many ways can you say

the same thing without going crazy? Teachers remark that it is not uncommon for some students to need 50 to 100 exposures before an idea sinks in.


  1. Set the bar high.


Quite frankly, it is just as easy to teach on grade level or higher, than it is to lower the

bar. Remember: Much of the culprit is the instructional material. Simple modifications

such as oral presentations and paraphrasing can make all the difference between failure

and success.


  1. Use comprehensible materials.


Watch out for fluency and comprehension roadblocks such as multiple meaning words,

use of syntactically complex sentences, poor organization, and/or uncommon names,

dates, and phrases. Pre-teach these daily.


  1. Provide plenty of practice.


Give students an opportunity to practice using comprehensible material. Make sure they

understand. “Praise and Practice” — it’s a great combination!


  1. Review.


Go over what was covered the day before. Tie it into the new day’s work. Give a

summary after every lesson.


  1. Increase their daily engagement time.


The average poor reader spends eight minutes per day actively engaged in reading. Thirty

minutes of teacher read oral reading time is the equivalent of four extra days!


  1. Remember to increase their language exposure.


Language is the key to greater comprehension. Input precedes output. The better their language, the better their comprehension. Take time to improve vocabulary. Talk to your child. Use stories to introduce new words. Remember: Language! Language! Language!

Accelerating the Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary of Inner City High School At-Risk Students – A Special Education Success Story

Here is an interesting question: what do the following five words have in common: lucid, superficial, obscure, scrutinized, acute? The answer is that they are five SAT words successfully taught to 10th grade, inner-city, at-risk students. Even better, close to half of the students have IEPs.

This article documents the significant growth data coming from Proviso East High School in Chicago. Proviso East serves inner-city African American and Hispanic students. Even better, it is involved in a turn-around project led by noted language researcher, Dr. Robert Marzano.

Dr. Marzano reviewed Failure Free Reading (FFR) and decided to place FFR in his school improvement project at Proviso East as its language/literacy intervention run by Proviso’s ELA Department Chair, Dr. Patrice Reiger.

Dr. Reiger chose to use FFR’s Verbal Master Program with a select group of her lowest performing 10th graders.

The 2018-19 growth results are quite exciting.

FFR is a language/literacy acceleration program, based on addressing the core issue pertaining to reading success and future academic achievement – poor language. FFR’s premise is simple: raise language competency and everything else will follow.

One of the unique features of FFR is its ability to have students achieve at significantly higher levels than other interventions. FFR starts students at least one grade level higher than any other national intervention, making it perfect for Proviso’s population – overaged, underachieving, street-wise students reading up to five or more years below grade level.

Performance data was collected on 42 students.

As expected, student knowledge of critical academic vocabulary as measured by their Verbal Master Synonym and Definition pretest scores was quite low. The Verbal Master vocabulary came from the EDL vocabulary list. EDL is the most recognized research-based list comprised of graded vocabulary most generic to science, social studies and basal readers.

The average student Synonym Pretest Score of Graded Academic Vocabulary was 26.13 %. The average student Word Definition Pretest Score of Grade Academic Vocabulary was 28.65%. Combined, the scores indicate that the students suffered from pronounced vocabulary deprivation. The research pertaining to this clear. No student can read for meaning above their vocabulary level. Raise the level and you will raise their reading comprehension, as documented by the following passage now being successfully read by these tenth graders:

“The doctors were amazed at how lucid the patient was during the operation. They knew that this was not a superficial wound caused by an obscure little cut. They scrutinized that it would take at least one hundred stitches to stop the acute bleeding.”

It is important to note that traditional interventions would never attempt to teach these students at such a high instructional level under the guise that the material is far too hard for at-risk and special education high school students. Fortunately, this is not FFR’s practice. Such low vocabulary scores only serve to illustrate that these students can attain success working with much higher than expected content when the curriculum is changed to meet their unique instructional needs. Change the approach and you will change the performance outcomes. That said. All students were placed in one of the four Verbal Master levels based on their reading frustration scores.

Verbal Master teaches 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade academic vocabulary.

14 students with an initial frustration level below 6th grade were placed in Verbal Master I.

4 students with an initial frustration level below 8th grade were placed in Verbal Master II.

11 students with an initial frustration level below10th grade were placed in Verbal Master III.

13 students with an initial frustration level below 12th grade were placed in Verbal Master IV.

40 out of 42 students showed significant post-test growth in all four Verbal Master Levels – a 95% success rate. The average student daily performance score (regardless of level) was above 85%. indicating these students can succeed at significantly higher levels that expected. Perhaps, the following statement from Dr. Reiger helps puts everything achieved in its proper perspective.

“I love Failure Free Reading because it built my students self-confidence to where they were willing to try again. It actually produced self-confidence and grit.” Dr. Patrice Reiger, English Department Chair, Proviso East.

Students with autism can read fluently with expression and with full comprehension!

Sadly, while the recognition of the autism has grown, the recognition of viable alternatives for treating the educational issues caused by autism has been extremely quite slow. This is especially true in teaching students with autism to read for meaning. Sadly, most reading approaches simply attempt to rely on methods that do not easily work for students with autism. When these approaches fail, or are quite slow to demonstrate progress, the unique learning needs of the student with autism is usually seen as the source of the problem. In other words, there is a tendency to blame the victim.


I simply do not believe this. My philosophy is quite simple. I believe we are underestimating the ability of our lowest performing students – regardless of age or label. More importantly, I further believe that all students (those with autism included) carry instructional strengths. The real enemy does not lie within the student or child. The real enemy lies within the inappropriateness of the instructional approach and its corresponding materials.


Thirty years and over 2,000,000 hours of direct hands on instruction have proved this notion to be correct. For the past thirty years, I have traveled across the nation giving live demonstrations showing what can happen to the reading ability of lowest literacy students when you change the instructional approach. I have seen hundreds of students of all ages and labels read with much greater comprehension and fluency right before my very eyes. And I have also seen parents; teachers and administrators cry because they never thought their student or child could read so quickly with expression and comprehension.


Reaching the chronically failing student is my mission. I seek to give hope to those who no longer believe (student, parent and teacher). More importantly, I want you to know that it’s never too late to accelerate the reading ability of all chronically failing students including your student or child with autism.


Students with autism can read fluently with expression and with full comprehension commensurate with their developmental age. Why do I mention developmental age? Autism covers a broad spectrum that includes students ranging from those with Asperger’s to those with significant cognitive disabilities. I firmly believe that students with autism (regardless of chronological age) must have a developmental age of between five to six years old to read for meaning with fluency on their developmental level.


For example, one of my best success stories pertaining to developmental age concerns a young teenage girl with Down syndrome. The girl was a virtual nonreader. She started my program when she was fourteen years old. She was not however fourteen years cognitively. Her cognitive age was closer to that of a seven-year-old. Her mother had tried a variety of different reading approaches from beginning phonics to flashcards.


Sadly, all failed.


Finally, the mother tried my Failure Free Reading approach. She told me that my approach was her last desperate attempt to get her child to read meaning and expression. She felt that she had tried all the other recognized reading approaches and they all failed.


What did she have to lose?


The mother was amazed. The change in the young girl’s expressive fluency and comprehension was dramatic. Her daughter started to read for meaning for the first time in her life right before her very eyes.


Was her daughter reading on her chronological grade level? Absolutely not! Her chronological age simply did not match her developmental age.


However, was she reading with comprehension and expression (as opposed to simply saying words aloud while not pausing at commas or stopping at periods)?


Absolutely yes!


The change in her daughter’s confidence was also dramatic. She couldn’t wait for her reading time. She read to anyone who was within earshot. She was so proud of her reading ability.


This is what you are going to do today. You are going to start to teach your child/student/adult with autism how to read for meaning and expression from actual passages and stories using the very same approach -Failure Free Reading – that is used by hundreds of professionals to serve thousands of previous non-readers daily.


Today you will start to change a life!


Please click here for a free lesson of my home version:





What Parents of Children with Autism Want You to Know

I just read a great article on what parents of children with autism want you to know.

Here are a few of my biggest takeaways from the article.

First, when you refer to their child, please don’t say “he is autistic”. Parents would prefer you to say, “he has autism”. Second, “There’s a difference between a tantrum and a meltdown. It’s not always them not getting what they want; oftentimes, children with autism (see, I didn’t say autistic children) know what they want, but have difficulty telling us. Trying to form the words attached to their thoughts can be challenging. It’s not a tantrum, it’s a meltdown.” And finally, “offer a lending hand even if it’s for a short period of time. It’s music to a parent’s ears when they hear, “how can we help”? … Let parents of children with autism know that they are not alone in the challenges of raising children on the spectrum.”


Finally, and this from me. Never underestimate the reading potential of students with autism. Don’t judge them on word attack or phonics. Many children with autism ( I am just getting better and better using this term) can read with expression and comprehension commensurate to their developmental ability. They don’t need slower, lower and less. You can give them faster, higher and more. This is what Failure Free Reading provides.


Click here to read the complete article:



Common Core’s Biggest Reading Myth – The Five Pillars of Reading Instruction

Did you hear? The Nation’s Report Card has just been released, and, once more, reading comprehension scores of 4th and 8th students still remain basically flat since 1992 based on nationally representative samples of more than 190,000 fourth-graders and 172,000 eighth-graders and 46,000 twelfth-graders that participated in the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading.

This is terrible news considering the vast amount of money, time and energy over the past decade in the use of “scientifically validated research based” programs. Billions of dollars have been invested, teachers trained, schools closed and yet there’s been no significant growth in reading comprehension over the past 30 plus years?

How could the “experts” have been so wrong?

The simple answer is, no one — or single — reading approach works for all students. This is especially true for non-readers – a population that has been virtually untouched for the past 30 plus years. Whether you call them treatment resistors or chronic non-responders, these non-readers are the key to reducing the achievement gap, drop out rate and inappropriate special education placement.

For example, contrary to what you have heard, there really are not five pillars to beginning reading instruction according to many reading researchers such as those involved in the National Reading Panel and others. For example, one of the pillars – the initial teaching of phonics (a way of teaching reading that stresses the acquisition of letter-sound correspondences and their use in reading and spelling) – does not apply to older students especially in the area of reading comprehension. The National Reading Panel found that the comprehension of text was not significantly improved when they received phonics instruction.

This notion of one size failing to fit all was further reinforced by Otaiba and Fuchs (2002) review of the characteristics of children who were unresponsive to early phonics based literacy instruction, in which they state “few researchers have suggested that either phonological awareness training or beginning decoding instruction is a silver-bullet solution that prevents reading disabilities in all children. Indeed, investigators have reported that as many as 30% of children who are at risk for reading difficulties (Blanch, 1994, 1997; Brown & Felton, 1990; Juel, 1994; Mathes, Howard, Allen, & Fuchs, 1998; Shannahan & Barr, 1995; Torgesen, Morgan, & Davis, 1992) and as many as 50% of children who have special needs (Fuchs et al., 2002; O’Connor, 2000; O’Connor, Jenkins, Leicester,& Slocum, 1993; O’Connor, Jenkins, & Slocum, 1995) may not benefit from generally effective phonological and decoding instruction.

I believe that the history of the rise and fall of reading programs continues to clearly document this reasonably consistent 30% failure rate. In fact, it appears to be a universal. In short, history has shown that once selected as the dominant reading approach – whether phonics, whole language, look-say or blended learning – up to 30% of the student body are now doomed to failure simply because of an innate mismatch between the inappropriateness of the approach selected and the students’ deficiencies in the innate skills necessary for success. And while the makeup of the student body will change over the years due to changes in the innate skills needed for success, the 30% failure rate remains consistent.

Confused? Let me be more specific. In the late 40s and 50s the dominant reading approach used in the United States was a sight based, look-say visual reading approach called Dick and Jane. Students were introduced to Dick and Jane and their dog Spot. The words introduced were highly controlled. The stories were extremely repetitious and students learned to instantly recognize the words: “Dick”, “Jane”, “Spot” and others. The program was wildly successful. It was based on the latest scientific research and for those born with strong visual memory skills, life couldn’t be better.

But not for those with limited visual memory skills. For them, life couldn’t get any worse.

Students with a poor visual memory, hated school – especially reading. They were failing miserably and while very bright verbally, they simply couldn’t recognize “Dick”, “Jane” or “Spot. How many failed? You guessed it, about 30%. And they continued to fail, until an author by the name of Rudolph Flesch took up their cause and published, in the late fifties, a wildly popular book entitled: “Why Johnny Can’t Read”.

The premise of Rudolph’s book was quite simple. “Dick” and “Jane” and the entire sight-based approach flew in the face of scientific research. Even worse, it ignored the entire alphabetic principle and the concept of phonics. Change the approach to phonics and you will eliminate reading failure and the 30% failure rate being created by this unscientific approach. These students could then tap into their auditory strengths and no longer have to rely on a sight-based approach. Phonics was the only way to fly.

Fast-forward sixty years. The primary reading approach is now phonics – one of the five pillars of instruction. All students are taught phonics first. And when they have reading difficulty, they are given even more phonics. And it gets worse, guess what the current researchers are now finding? You guessed it again.

“Research suggest that most reading difficulties are associated with core deficits in phonological processing (e.g., Adams, 1990; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998;Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1994).

And this 30% figure never changes. According to Diplomas Count: An Essential Guide to Graduation Policy and Rates (Olson, 2006), the national graduation rate is 69.6 percent. This report estimates that in 2006 more than 1.2 million students—most of them members of minority groups—will not graduate from high school in four years with a regular diploma. Nationally, while close to 30 percent of students do not graduate, only “51.6 percent of Black students, 47.4 percent of American Indian and Alaskan Native students, and 55.6 percent of Hispanic students graduated from high school on time with a standard diploma,” compared with more than three-quarters of non-Hispanic whites and Asians (Olson, 2006, p. 6).

Fortunately, there is help! And the first step centers on your being willing to try something new. Forget the hype about which program is best. All programs work but not for all students. You know your students. Kids who are stuck at skills need a different non-phonic first approach. There really is an alternative to teaching the alphabetic principle. They can and will learn to read for meaning with expressive fluency without phonics. Dick and Jane taught us that sixty years ago. You can see what’s working and importantly, you can see when a particular approach fails to work. And when it fails, you have to try a different approach.

This is when you have to be willing to step out on the instructional ledge and try something new. Remember in 99% of the cases the problem does not lie with you – the teacher or your students or their parents.

The problem is caused by the inappropriateness of the instructional approach as it pertains to the unique instructional needs of that student. In short, change the approach and you will change the student performance! This is why Failure Free Reading non-phonic first approach is so effective for our nation’s current non-readers or chronic non-responders. There is help.

Hyperlexia – The Hidden Condition

Hyperlexia is a condition few in education know about. It is characterized by having the ability to sound words out with little or no meaning. Hyperlexic students do not read with expression. They do not pause at commas or stop at periods. And while they can sound almost every word out with complete accuracy, they cannot tell you what they have just read.

It appears that there are two types of Hyperlexia. The first is developmental. The second is acquired.

Students with developmental Hyperlexia are word callers who attain this skill without being taught and generally before age 5 years. They can recognized almost any text but with the complete absence of meaning. More on this in a later post.

Students with acquired Hyperlexia are taught it through the overemphasis on teaching phonics-based word recognition activities. They start to believe that reading is about getting the words right rather than meaning. They become stuck at skills.

Students with acquired Hyperlexia need to be taken out of a skill-first approach immediately and put into a highly structured meaning-based program such as Failure Free Reading.

This is what we do best.

Fastest Acting RTI Tier II & Tier III is Now WIDA Compatable

Too many reading comprehension interventions are far too slow for these non-readers because they are based on the antiquated notion that phonics must always be taught first.


This is why I created Failure Free Reading – the fastest acting reading comprehension intervention as the following instructional video with an mother and daughter English Language Learner clearly shows:


Failure Free Reading is a non-phonic first, WIDA compatable, reading comprehension intervention that shows what struggling readers students can immediately understand when we tap into the brain’s non-phonic, visually-based reading ability.

Failing students can read for meaning. Failing students can read with expressive fluency. Failing students can do faster higher and more. All they need is something different. Nine published articles and one million hours of instruction show Failure Free Reading does work.

My interventions are extremely reasonable. Give me a call and I will personally tell you how we can help you or try it yourself for free for two weeks with a student of your choice. You will be amazed!


New Hope for Non-Readers

Too many students are crying themselves to sleep because they can’t read. Sadly the problem is not them. it’s also not their parents, their teachers or their administrators. The problem is the approach. Change the approach and you will change their performance outcomes in terms of vocabulary, expressive fluency, comprehension and confidence.

Research Fact #1. Some students just don’t get phonics. They become stuck at skills. They sound words out with little or no comprehension. They are visual learners stuck in an auditory approach.