Brief Summary of Informal Study of the Reading Focus Cards (2007)
An informal study (2007) of the Reading Focus Card (Patent 7,565,759) was conducted in a St. Louis elementary school for a period of 2 weeks with both a general 6th grade population (with no known learning disabilities) and a resource classroom (with all students having special learning needs). This was an informal study as the students themselves reported via a written survey about their experiences using the Reading Focus Cards during that 2-week period. The results of the study were as follows:
1. It was found that 10% of the general population classroom reported increased focus and concentration when using the Reading Focus Cards.
2. In the special needs classroom, approximately 90% of the students reported better focus and great concentration when using the Reading Focus Cards. It was noted at the conclusion of this study that those 10% who did not experience any change had been previously diagnosed with auditory processing disorders.
Abridged Summary of Formal Study of the Reading Focus Cards (2011)
The purpose of the formal study in 2011 was to determine if use of the Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759) could significantly increase reading fluency and comprehension in secondary students with disabilities. This study took place at a rural high-school located in central Missouri. The students involved in this study were 15 to 18 years old in 10th, 11th or 12th grade and enrolled in a program called Rewards Reading. This reading class was a remedial class for students with various disabilities, who were at the time receiving special education services. The areas measured in this project included, comprehension, decoding and fluency. The primary investigator in the study was an experienced reading specialist and a member of the high school faculty where the study was conducted.
Timed Readings were administered to determine the increase in fluency, measuring correct words per minute. On average, the subjects who used the Reading Focus Cards read 7.2 more correct words per minute. Three of the nine participants met the learning goal of increasing correct words per minute read by 25 words. This reading comprehension goal was measured by the STAR Reading Assessment (Renaissance Learning, 2010). Participants increased their comprehension level by twenty-nine hundredths (.29). This data indicated that the learning goal was met by two subjects; the other seven participants did not meet the learning goal. Increasing decoding skills by one grade level was measured by the San Diego Quick informal reading assessment (Scholastic, 2002). All subjects, both the control and the experimental groups, advanced at least one grade level as assessed by the San Diego Quick informal reading assessment (Scholastic, 2002). The researcher concluded that the third learning goal was not appropriately established initially.
The purpose of this study was to determine if Reading Focus Cards significantly impacted reading fluency, comprehension and decoding skills for students with disabilities. The data indicated that not all students showed a significant increase; however, multiple subjects did show a significant increase in all three areas. The data also indicated that fluency was the area in which participants showed a significant gain. Although all of the learning goals were not met by the entire group of participants, several participants met and exceeded the learning goals.
The researcher chose participants on a volunteer basis. All participants, with the exception of one, chose to continue the use of the Reading Focus Cards after the conclusion of the study. The participants had positive reactions to the Reading Focus Cards, and many participants commented on how easy it was to keep their place while reading. In addition, during passage reading, the researcher did notice a decrease in students asking, Where are we? That led the researcher to conclude that participants were more likely to follow the reading while others were reading aloud. This would further increase the comprehension of the passage as well as increase student engagement. At the conclusion of the research period, several students requested to use their Reading Focus Cards in other classes. The researcher did notice that the participants who had the most gain, exhibited intrinsic motivation to learn and were constantly trying to improve their reading. The participants who did not make such gains, typically had a higher absentee rate, lower grades, and did not display intrinsic motivation to learn. The researcher did not consider attendance, grades, or any other factors while selecting participants. The population used in this study was truly diverse.
Student learning was impacted by this study. Participants became more fluent readers and were able to keep their places while reading. The researcher noticed that participants who repeated words or skipped entire lines of the passage significantly decreased. The participants, as well as the researcher; were pleased with their progress. Participants felt more confidence while reading aloud and displayed accuracy with decoding words during and after the research period. The Reading Focus Cards are an addition to the current reading program. The addition of the Reading Focus Cards did not alter the Rewards Reading program. The researcher did not have to remind students to use the Reading Focus Cards. They just became a part of their daily routine.
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