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Creating Readers One Glyph at a Time at MSD of Warren County

 Melanie Nelson, MSD of Warren County Instructional Coach

*We are happy to share the views of our guest writer, Melanie Nelson, MSD of Warren County District Instructional Coach. Her viewpoint after 2 years of Readable English implementation within her district is greatly appreciated. The district data she shares is a testimony to not only the Readable English program, but also to the dedicated and passionate teachers in MSD of Warren County that believe ALL students CAN learn to read on grade level! Thank you Melanie for allowing us to share this!


Imagine living your entire life with the inability to read. How many missed opportunities would arise due to illiteracy? Unfortunately, all of us know family members or friends that struggle with literacy skills; including the ability to read accurately and/or fluently, comprehend what’s been read, or write effectively. 


I know close family members who have struggled with reading and writing at the basic level their entire lives. They were pushed to the back of the classroom and eventually quit their school journey in the 8th grade.  Both family members developed strategies to live happy successful lives, but this question always popped into my head, what if ? What if they had learned to read and write? What doors would have opened for them with the power of literacy? The fact that they never learned to read breaks my heart.  We must do better. When I began my career thirty years ago, my dream was to help not only those close to me but also touch the lives of students in the classroom by helping them with this much needed skill of literacy.  Yes, I wanted to promote the love of reading, but my main goal was to teach students to read and write to perform the daily tasks required in life.  


Readable English has finally given hope to my goal and is making it happen within our schools! 

What an exciting journey the last few years have been for the Metropolitan School District of Warren County. As the District Coach, I have had the ability to see first hand the difference Readable English is making with our students. I am excited to share our results with you! 

Throughout my career, I have been trained in many different programs to combat the issues of illiteracy.  The focus of training centered around phonological awareness, phonics, and fluency.  Many years have been spent working on these components to create readers within the early grades but with little success.  We continued to push students to the upper grades, with the inability to read on-grade-level text.  Our district has phenomenal administrators and teachers. The inability to create fluent and accurate readers was not from a lack of trying.  We just never found the right tool for success. The lack of accuracy with our students also led to the inability of our teachers to move into vocabulary and comprehension instruction with on-grade-level text.  Readable English has finally reduced the cognitive load allowing our students to read accurately.  


Thinking outside the box and trying something different became a game changer in our quest to create successful readers within the MSD of Warren County.  


What wasn’t working for the students in the Metropolitan School District of Warren County?

  • Teaching the same phonics rules/exceptions year after year with no considerable gains in accuracy or fluency.
  • Teaching students to memorize sight word lists.
  • Teaching students to mark words to help with decoding.
  • Teaching students to memorize spelling words for mastery on weekly tests.
  • Teaching isolated skills without application to new text.

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Our Readable English journey began two years ago.  Our superintendent sent out an email outlining potential professional development through our local educational center, which included a program called Readable English.  Local administrators decided to participate in the grant opportunity, train our teachers, and implement the program with our IEP and tier students throughout the district. Skepticism was high at first, but district teams jumped on board and began implementation in early October of 2021. Notably, having phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, and writing embedded throughout the Readable English curriculum; MSD of Warren County teachers were pleased with the ease of use of the program. 

The following is a list of findings after one year of implementation with Readable English.  Considerable gains were found in classrooms where the program was implemented with fidelity and students were immersed in converted text as often as possible during daily instruction and activities. 

Readable English Findings…

  • Readable English has allowed our teachers to move into vocabulary and comprehension instruction with our lowest readers.  
  • Readable English has dramatically reduced the cognitive load allowing students to retain and apply information.
  • Accuracy rates improved dramatically within two months of implementation.
  • IEP, intensive and strategic students showed gains in growth on ILEARN. Several of these same students moved to different proficiency levels on ILEARN.
  • Students made larger gains in classrooms where Readable English was embraced and taught with fidelity with continued exposure to fluency exercises and the conversion tool.
  • Readable English students can now access grade level curriculum with the use of the conversion tool.
  • Well-below and below-level readers can now participate in novel studies regardless of the grade-level text. 
  • Readable English has created more confident readers throughout the district.
  • Teachers love the ease of implementation.  
  • Readable English can be partnered with programs already being used within the classroom.  Several programs are still being used to teach the Standard English sounds before moving into phase 1 of the Readable English program.

The following is a summary of the sample data collected during the 2021-22 school year to determine the effectiveness of Readable English. (Data collection focused on classrooms with high fidelity to the RE program and conversion tool application.)

District ORF Accuracy (Grade 4) 2021-22 – mClass Amplify

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Elementary ILEARN Growth Data (4th Grade) 2021-22




Yearly Growth

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*Colors represent ILEARN proficiency levels.


Within MSD of Warren County, Readable English has completely changed the overall philosophy of how we teach reading. Administrators and teachers, including myself, have embraced this program and expanded this initiative to include most of our students in grades 2-6 and our lowest readers in grades 7-8. By reducing the cognitive load, Readable English has allowed our students to become accurate and more confident readers. I am so thankful for this program that has allowed my main goal of being able to teach all students to read and write in order to perform the daily tasks required in life, not only a possibility, but a reality that we are working towards every day with our students in the MSD of Warren County district! 

We truly believe that every student can learn to read at grade level.

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