How to Evaluate a Reading Program

August 2, 2022

How to Evaluate a Reading Program

Parents might decide to use a reading program at home to help their child gain reading proficiency and confidence. Some children might read below the grade-level benchmarks and need to catch up, and a comprehensive reading program could provide help at home.

For some children, a reading program could be used just to ensure that they don’t fall down the summer slide and lose valuable skills. Not all programs are best for every child, though. Here’s how parents can evaluate a reading program to determine if it is a good choice for their child.

The crucial components of an impactful reading program could include:

  • Leveled reading
  • Built-in assistance
  • Audiobook options
  • Vocabulary enrichment
  • High / Low books
  • Comprehension measurement tools
  • Progress audits

Programs Should Be Designed with Appropriately-Leveled Reading Lessons

One of the primary features of an effective reading program is the focus on a leveled approach to instruction. Ideally, the program should allow parents to set their child’s reading level to ensure that lessons don’t begin with books that are not a good fit for their child.

As a child displays mastery of both fluency and comprehension of the books in the program, the level should slowly increase in difficulty. With Readability, parents can set their child’s reading level or the program can help determine the child’s baseline reading level with the program.

Once the child’s ideal level is set, the child will advance when they display proficiency in both their reading fluency and their reading comprehension.

Children Should Have Access to Built-In Assistance in a Reading Program

A reading program needs to help a struggling reader. However, children struggle with different aspects of reading. Some have trouble decoding, but others have difficulty understanding what they read (i.e. comprehension).

The best reading programs should guide both areas of struggle. Readability includes a built-in AI tutor that is programmed with voice-recognition software. As a child reads aloud, the tutor can understand when the child is struggling to pronounce a word.

Once the AI determines that the child needs help, the tutor will work with the child and help them with the word. The tutor also helps children with comprehension.

At the end of each book, the tutor asks questions to determine if the child understood what they read. If the child answers a question incorrectly, the tutor will show them the section of the story that will help them answer the question. The tutor also reads the section aloud. Readability then gives the child another attempt to correctly answer the question.

Readability helps guide children to ease their struggles and also teaches them how to utilize strategies when they struggle. For example, when a child answers a comprehension quiz question incorrectly, the tutor helps the child understand that the answer can be found by re-reading or going back in the book.

Re-reading is a valuable strategy that children can use when they need to better understand a topic or the action of a story. Even adults re-read to facilitate understanding.

How to Evaluate a Reading Program

A Comprehensive Reading Program Should Offer Audiobook Options

Some children learn best through listening; this is referred to as ‘auditory learning.’ Every child might have a preferred learning style. Some understand best when they can read instructions, while others require a hands-on approach (tactile).

Reading programs should provide resources to accommodate different learning styles. Programs should ideally offer interactive features for tactile learners and audiobook features for auditory learners.

Readability offers a Storytime feature that reads books to children; they can follow along while the narrator reads the story aloud. Children can listen to stories anywhere that offers a wifi signal.

Listening to stories can help children pick up new vocabulary. In addition, children also might be able to better understand emotion or action by hearing the changing voice inflections of the narrator.

Reading Rockets explains that audiobooks also can help children be used for children to enjoy books that are beyond their reading level.

The Best Reading Program Emphasizes Vocabulary Enrichment

Learning new vocabulary opens up more doorways of the reading adventure. As children expand their vocabulary, they grow their understanding of more complex texts and ideas. This allows them to read higher level books and stories.

A dynamic reading program helps enrich a child’s vocabulary by introducing them to new words and help them understand the meaning and context of these words. Readability includes a vocabulary list for every book in a child’s library.

In addition, children can tap on any word in a book to hear the word’s definition or to hear it used in a sentence. The newly discovered words are added to a child’s comprehensive vocabulary list; they can access their list of words anytime to practice these words again and again.

How to Evaluate a Reading Program

Reading Programs Should Include High / Low Books

What are high/low books and why are they important for a reading program? The term refers to books that offer a high interest level but are written for a lower reading level.

High/low books ensure that the story isn’t too juvenile for older readers who struggle to read at grade-level. The stories are exciting and feature topics that are age-appropriate. However, they are still easy for struggling readers to decode and understand.

An older child who struggles to read doesn’t want to feel that they should read a book that is designed for a much younger child. They want to read the same types of books that their friends enjoy.

Readability includes a mix of fiction and nonfiction books that are age-appropriate and written at a level that is conducive to each child’s reading ability, too. Readability offers books with unique new characters and books about favorite sports heroes.

A Reading Program Should Gauge Comprehension

Reading programs shouldn’t simply focus on helping a child decode and reading fluently. Some children only struggle with reading comprehension. A reading program should include tools that assist every aspect of the reading journey.

Readability’s built-in AI tutor asks children questions at the end of each book. These comprehension quizzes help the tutor understand and measure a child’s comprehension of what they read.

If a child is struggling with comprehension, they might need more time at a specific reading level before they advance. Every child is different, and Readability moves children forward when they are ready to advance.

Parents Should Be Able to Review Reading Progress

A parent cannot determine the best program for their child if they have no way of measuring their child’s progress—or lack thereof. The best reading programs should include a portal for parents that provides updates on their child’s reading progress.

Readability provides parents with access to the Progress Dashboard (or Parent Dashboard). This portal is only available to parents and includes the following reading data:

  • Reading level
  • Comprehension
  • Reading fluency (measured in words read per minute)
  • Reading time on Readability (parents can see how long their child has used the program)

This portal helps parents understand their child’s progress. They can review the dashboard at any time to better review their child’s reading data. In addition, parents also can compile the data into a report to email to their child’s teacher; this can help facilitate communication between the classroom and home.

For parents on a budget, the price of a reading program also might be important to consider. Every reading program might include a different price structure or different subscription options. Parents should review the cost of the program.

To evaluate a program, parents also could sign up for a free trial to explore the features of the program. Readability offers a free seven-day trial that provides access to all the program’s features including the AI tutor. Sign up for a free trial today and explore all the tools that Readability can offer.