Mississippi has already identifies a reason to come up with a reading reform model because of the urgent need to help students know how to read. There was a reform by the Mississippi Board of Education in July 1997 (Thompson et al, 2002). This is when it took the initiative to come up with a Reading Sufficiency Program which was supposed to help children learn how to read at an early age. At a legislative session in 1998, a reading sufficiency program of instruction was created which required each school district to form a reading program which was supposed to facilitate the reading reform (Thompson et al, 2002). Here is a diagram showing Mississippi reading reform model;
Source (Thompson et al, 2002)
After signing up the law and making it compulsory for every school district to have a reading sufficiency program, they came up with the above reform model to guide each school district (Barksdale Reading Institute and Mississippi Department of Education, 2000). For the model to be considered effective it should be well designed to allow students get ready to learn how to read, it should have clear instructions which can be fully utilized consisting of all elements of reading and should be of high quality and professionally developed in such a way that it improves the instructions for reading (Thompson et al, 2002).
State of Mississippi is one which ahs been privileged to have many reading programs being implemented in public schools. This is meant to help those students attending these kinds of schools. It is based on the fact most of the students who attend public schools are poor and their parents may not be able to meet all the reading needs of their children. The reading programs being implemented are meant to help the children/students in public schools get a good reading environment just similar to that their counterparts in private schools (Bound, 2008).
One of these reading programs is dyslexia program which is mostly carried out by the Mississippi department of education office of reading, early childhood and language. This program aims at assisting those children who have difficulties in reading due to dyslexia. Dyslexia is a condition which is believed to originate from neurological condition and the child suffering from it has characteristics like difficulties in accurate word recognition and fluency, and poor spelling and decoding abilities (Bound, 2008). Dyslexia program is a pilot program in which students enrolled in public schools are supposed to be tested of dyslexia and any other related disorders. This will assist in identifying any inabilities to read and write which are unexpected and hence give the chance to provide effective instructions in the classroom (Bound, 2008). This program was first implemented in 1997 and has continued to be implemented up to date.
In 2008, there were many other programs related to multisensory reading programs which were implemented. These programs had the main purpose of helping students who were diagnosed to have characteristics related to dyslexia. Some of the programs under the dyslexia program include; first Orton Gillingham Approach/Alphabetic Phonics which uses the principle of association of how a letter looks sounds and how hands or speech tones feel when producing it (Bound, 2008). The second is Alphabetic Phonics which helps in teaching phonics and structure. While at the same time using Orton Gillingham, it helps students learn how to hand write, spell and read (Bound, 2008). Third is Project Read which normally used for early purposes before the students go to high classes. It main deal with reading and learning the language consisting of three components; phonology, comprehension, and written expression. Fourth is Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Dyslexia Training Program which is normally instructional and videotaped (Bound, 2008). It is used in elementary school consisting not more than six students. Fifth is Texas Scottish Rite Literacy Program which students are supposed to be in high school or adults. It is normally carried out for one year consisting of 160 lessons which are videotaped. Sixth is Earobics which has the aim of making sure that every student has the fundamental skills required for one to be a good reader (Bound, 2008). It is a computer based program and helps students to learning both spoken and written language. Seventh is Lindamood Bell Learning Process which gives the students skills required to decode, comprehend, spell and think critically. Eighth is Academic Language Therapist Instruction which is implemented by a language therapist by use of techniques and strategies which are necessary for students with dyslexia (Bound, 2008).
The dyslexia reading program is one of the best programs as it helps those students who lack the capability to read do it without many problems (Bound, 2008). As far as it is a good program, it has both strengths and weaknesses. The strength of this program is that, it has divided itself in to eight other programs in which it can accommodate everybody despite their age and intensity of the condition. It has the strength in that it assists in identifying a condition which could otherwise not been identified. It gives hope to children whose condition can tamper with their lives. It helps students with dyslexia and other related disorders acquire the fundamental skills required for reading and writing. The other strength is that it carries this activity in public schools where many students are likely to be less privileged. Some of the reading programs under this pilot program can reverse the condition. There is always an assessment to find out or not if the program had been successful or not (Bound, 2008). However, besides all these strengths, it has some weaknesses which include the fact that this program only identifies those students in public schools while there could be other students in private schools who are suffering from the same condition.
This first program is meant to help students who have dyslexia and other related disorders learn how to read. In contrast to this, there is the program of research and evaluation for public schools (PREPS) which is mainly to help all the students irrespective of their conditions whether normal or abnormal (PREPS Inc, 2011). It is a program which helps public schools improves their instructional methods. Both dyslexia program and PREPS are meant to help students improve their reading skills. However dyslexia programs involve the students directly but PREPS helps schools improve their instructional programs which in turn improves the reading skills among students. PREPS benefit only the members but dyslexia program benefits every body provided they are public schools. PREPS offer facilities like PD 360 whose usage has raised the reading score of students in the member schools (PREPS Inc, 2011). This can be clearly seen from a graph comparing reading scores in schools who use PD 360 and those who do not use it.
Source (PREPS Inc, 2011)
PREPS are aimed at benefiting the school, students and the teachers at large (PREPS Inc, 2011). This is in contrast to dyslexia program which mostly target the students. PREPS program targets all the students while dyslexia program targets only those students who have dyslexia and other related conditions. What they have in common is that, both programs are aimed at improving reading skills among students.
Program of research and evaluation for public schools (PREPS) has the strength in that it involves partnership among schools where they are required to be members of this program and hence contribute some fee as a show of commitment and to support the program. When schools and districts are in partnership, they give each other strength required for success. This program also has the strength in that it equips the teachers/instructors with the right skills required for teaching students reading skills. It has the ideology of saving resources in the districts which can help in improving reading skills (PREPS Inc, 2011). It has the strength of encouragement since students and schools are encouraged to achieve high results and receive awards for high achievers. To assess the success of this program, there are programs which have been set aside to evaluate the success of PREPS. Despite all these strengths, this program has its own weakness. The first weakness is that, it only targets public schools and ignores what may happen in private schools. Another weakness is that this program can only benefit those who are members and in partnership (PREPS Inc, 2011). Other wise the schools and districts who are not members do not benefit from this program.
The state of Mississippi has shown progressive improvements in terms of acquisition of reading skills (Mississippi Department of Education, 2011). It has been improving since 2003.
Barksdale Reading Institute and Mississippi Department of Education. (2000). Evaluation of Instrumental Materials. Volume 1
Bound, H. (2008). 2008 Report to the Mississippi Legislature on the Pilot Dyslexia Programs. Mississippi Department of Education
Mississippi Department of Education. (2011). Reading First State Profile Mississippi. Retrieved on June 2, 2011 from http://www2.ed.gov/programs/readingfirst/profilems.pdf
PREPS Inc. (2011). Program of Research and Evaluation for Public Schools. Retrieved on June 2, 2011 from http://www.preps.msstate.edu/pdf/2011_PREPS_Resource_Guide.pdf
Thompson, R et al. (2002). Evaluation of Instructional Materials. Mississippi Department of Education