Youth Who Are Neglected Are Acknowledged for Their Achievement With the Reading Is FAME Curriculum
By Leslie Brock | email@example.com
Many students are being recognized at Boys Town, recently renamed Girls and Boys Town, for their quick advancement in reading proficiency levels. The reading advancement is credited to the Reading Is FAME curriculum developed by Dr. Mary Beth Curtis, director of the Girls and Boys Town Reading Center in Nebraska. The Reading Center was established in 1990 with the intent of bringing remedial students up to grade level in reading as quickly as possible. Girls and Boys Town is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization working at multiple sites and in various programs across the country to treat and care for children who are abused, neglected, and abandoned.
To develop the curriculum, Dr. Curtis and her staff applied both hands-on research, using current Girls and Boys Town youths’ test scores, and a sound theoretical foundation, based on Dr. Jeanne S. Chall’s research at Harvard University. In her research, Dr. Curtis found that many of the youth were at least 2 years below their grade level in reading in the areas of word knowledge, comprehension, oral reading, and fluency. From these test results and Dr. Chall’s book, Stages of Reading Development, as part of the theoretical base, Dr. Curtis developed the Reading is FAME curriculum.
The curriculum is divided into four stages, which fall into four semester-long courses. These are as follows:
- Foundations of Reading. This section of the Reading Is FAME curriculum targets students whose reading levels are below the fourth grade and is designed to teach word decoding skills through phonemic awareness. Various activities, from oral reading to use of computers to word activities, are utilized to support the curriculum.
- Adventures in Reading. This course, which follows the Foundations of Reading section of the curriculum, targets students between the fourth- and sixth-grade reading levels. Reading fluency, as well as word recognition and meaning to develop vocabulary, are focused upon in this section. Oral reading, computer activities, and word activities are used to support the curriculum in this area.
- Mastery of Meaning. This section of the curriculum, intended for students between the sixth- and eighth-grade reading levels, concentrates on reading comprehension. To improve comprehension, this section, as does the previous section, works on vocabulary development. Multiple reading, writing, listening, and speaking techniques are used to support the Mastery of Meaning curriculum.
- Explorations. The final course, Explorations, is created for students above the eighth-grade level in reading. This more advanced course helps students combine concepts and themes encountered in text through reading and writing. In addition, students are prepared for higher-level writing courses as they learn how to develop outlines and take notes, among other higher-order skills necessary for academic success.
Although direct teacher instruction is emphasized in this model, use of computers for individual practice and tutoring is also highly recommended. In order to provide maximum benefits, according to the Reading Center, use of the Reading Is FAME curriculum requires intensive teacher training, preparation, and followup with the Reading Center’s consultant team.
Educators have found that reading proficiency outcomes have been substantially increased due to this curriculum. Terry Hyland, a senior writer with the Girls and Boys Town Writing Division, in his research on the curriculum, notes that students who complete about 36 weeks of instruction of the first two courses gain 2 or more years on standardized tests. Over the same amount of instructional time for the two latter courses, students gain about 1.5 years on standardized tests. Schools in Nebraska and Indiana have found similar results. The success of Reading Is FAME is an example of the ongoing commitment of Girls and Boys Town to pursuing its mission statement, “Changing the way America cares for her children and families.”
For more information:
Visit the Web site at www.girlsandboystown.org/pros/training/education/FAME_program.asp
Published May 2005