Edmark​ Reading Program

"This program gives amazing results in such a short time! Students see themselves as readers from the first lesson! Instruction through the computer is a win-win for kids who are convinced they can't read and only computer/video type games are any fun. The worksheets add a nice review and take home for bragging rights component. I love the Edmark Reading Program."- Elementary Resource Room teacher from Vermont
Team Members: Emily Beatty, Sara Jane Kovalesky, Sarah Randles
Edmark Reading Program by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Learning Technology; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Copyright 1972
Cost: Edmark Reading Program Level 1 $429; Edmark Reading Program Level 2 $429; Edmark Reading Program Bundle Box $799

The Edmark Reading Program is recommended for students with developmental disabilities or learning disabilities, Title I students struggling with phonics approaches, ESL students for experience with oral vocabulary and word meaning, preschool and kindergarten students who are deaf or lack vocabulary development and language awareness. Grade levels where this program will be most helpful are ability level grade K-3 and interest level grades 1-6. However, Edmark is appropriate for students of all ages, readers and non-readers alike.

The Edmark program was developed over a fifteen year period, from 1960 to 1975. Research was funded by The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and was conducted by researchers from the University of Washington led by Sidney Bijou, Ph.D. The theories behind this study were "the principals of behavioral psychology to the education of children with mild and moderate levels of mental retardation." A journal article reviewing of the Edmark Reading Program, "A Review of Validation Studies of the Edmark Reading Program" written by Stephen Sulzbacher, Ph.D. provides a thorough introduction to the development of the program. The principles of behavioral psychology relate to errorless discrimination, response shaping, selective reinforcement and direct instruction.

The literacy skills that are included in the Edmark Reading Program span vocabulary, comprehension and fluencywiki_program_pics.jpg skills, as well as capitalization, punctuation, and left to right reading tracking and thinking and discrimination skills.
Vocabulary: Pre-reading and Word Recognition; first introduced in isolation, words presented to student and student must choose the same word from a row of words- student first must choose word from a selection of non confounding words and, after repeated practice, is then given similar-looking words to choose from- student is soon able to competently read the target word
Comprehension: Picture Phrase Cards, Direction Cards and Short Stories; student is given a large card with a group of pictures and smaller cards with phrases and eventually sentences written on them. Student is asked to read the phrase/sentence and match it with the picture. The Direction Card activity provides the student with a large card containing phrases/sentences with directions that the student must follow by matching toy cards with the correct phrase and by positioning the cards to demonstrate comprehension of the directions. Short Stories transitions student from manipulatives to more tradition reading materials. The stories have themes and provide a systematic review of learned words.
Fluency: practiced throughout all of these activities through guided oral reading. The teacher asks the student to read sentences, phrases and stories out loud and gives corrections and guidance as needed.
Edmark also helps students associate between oral language and print. The Edmark Reading Program can be used in Reponse to Intervention and provides motivation for students by breaking learning into smaller steps. This helps students see themselves as readers, and removes frustration factors by eliminating incorrect responses.

Students with mild to moderate disabilities who struggle with reading will gain confidence in their reading abilities through this program. There are five instructional formats the Edmark uses to instruct reading: 1) Pre-reading, 2) Word wiki_program_pics_2.jpgRecognition, 3) Direction Cards, 4) Picture/Phrase Cards and 5) Story Book. Level I teaches students 150 sight words plus endings (-s, -ed, -ing) and takes a nonreader to approximately a 1.0 reading grade level. Level 2 extends learning by teaching an additional 200 words, plus compound words and students can attain a reading grade level of 2.0 to 3.0. It helps students with severe cognitive disabilities to learn phonics because it breaks those skills down into patterns rather than rule intensive approaches. Edmark helps make these patterns through multiple repetitions of words and phrases in varying formats.

The Edmark Reading Program itself was formed from a fifteen year research based study done by researchers at the University of Washington, as stated above. In addition, a study done in 2000 with economically disadvantaged students who were at risk for reading failure found that o​ne-to-one tutoring using the Edmark Reading Program was successful in increasing sight word vocabulary and comprehension skills of the students. Because reading skills have been broken down into small, manageable steps, these skills are taught in isolation. Similar to the Scope and Sequence Skills list, the Edmark Reading Program breaks reading skills down to incorporate skills in a developmental progression.

wiki_touchwindow.jpgBecause the program is broken down into different sub categories, the Edmark Reading Program allows teachers the opportunity to provide direct instruction to their students. This direct instruction is strictly focused on each of the categories which help the student master one skill at a time. The program not only provides direct instruction but also gives students the opportunity to focus on multisensory interaction. This interaction includes hearing, speaking, seeing and touching. It provides universal access for all students to address a variety of learning styles and abilities. Some of the Universal Access features included in the Edmark Reading Program are TouchWindow and TouchFree Switch. The Ewiki_touchfree_swtich.gifdmark Reading program offers students a variety of opportunities to practice their vocabulary, comprehension skills etc. The program not only gives students the chance to practice with different games and activities but also provides students with supplemental activities and worksheets that they can do independently or at home. These activities include having students match words with pictures as well as having students read stories and answer comprehension questions.

The Edmark Reading Program takes general education literacy curricula normally taught throughout elementary school and breaks them down into smaller steps for students who struggle. What helps make this program so successful is its close tie with general educatiwiki_program_pics_3.jpgon. While general education curricula is often taught in a whole class setting, the Edmark Reading Program allows for one-on-one student interaction with the materials and teacher. This program can also be completed in small groups if the teacher feels that it would better benefit the students involved.

There is no specific professional development for the Edmark Reading Program. However the explicitness of the teacher's guide facilitates the implementation of the program The company provides technical assistance if needed and offers training when requested.

The program utilizes many strategies and materials in helping students master literacy skills. These include: 350 words from the Dolch Word List and basal readers, 345 lessons in three formats including pre-test, reviews and one hundred stories. 10 Student Record Books to track student progress, Teacher's Guide with learning objectives and activity ideas and Comprehensions Questions Book. At ten-word intervals, review and test activities are provided allowing teachers to test student knowledge of learned words. Short instructional steps, repetition, and constant positive reinforcement build self-confidence in the student. These texts, materials, and processes serve as a thorough assessment component and help the teacher monitor student progress.

The Edmark Reading Program is an excellent resource that can be used in an inclusion setting mainly because the program is designed to meet the needs of students with cognitive impairments. The program can be used for continuous progress monitoring, to determine the student's mastery of the program, and to identify targeted reading objectives for the student's IEP. Each lesson is structured to minimize error, which in turn motivates the student to help them gain a better self-concept. The program is founded upon repetition and promotes the independence of the student by gradually fading out the teacher. Lastly, the program is broken up into small steps to better promote correct responses. Therefore, this program can be utilized in an inclusion setting with those students that need extra support and progress monitoring with early reading skills.

Strengths and Weaknesses
The Edmark reading program has positive reinforcement that is consistent throughout the program. As another positive aspect, the program is filled with small steps within the instructional format which minimizes memory demands and the possibility of making errors. Teacher materials are explicit and provide enough information to facilitate the program's use for teachers and para-professions without the need for extensive professional development. Lastly, the programs multisensory approach may assist in holding a student's attention.

A weakness of this program can be found in its lack of vastness that the program encompasses. The Edmark Reading Program is not comprehensive enough to be considered as a core reading program. This is because, the program was designed for students with cognitive impairments.

Video of the Edmark Program being Utilized
Rosalie Learns to Read

Final Reflection
As first year special education teachers, we would highly recommend using this program and would definitely use it ouselves. For developing basic reading and comprehension skills, this program addresses the needs of struggling students. It not only provides students with self confidence in their reading abilities, but it also jumpstarts their vocabulary, allowing them to focus on comprehension, rather than attempting to figure out a word. The small steps that reading skills have been broken down into provides students with easier, more manageable tasks and reduces frustration levels. It provides learning consistency between the student's home life and school by providing the student with ample oppotunity to practice. The use of technology and assisstive technology makes this program perfect not only for special education but for any general education classroom attempting to incorporate newer technology. Also, the program's close ties with general education literacy curricula makes it the perfect tool for helping students learn to read. It is clear from the many product reviews and testimonials , the studies done with this program, and its popularity of the 37 years it has been available that the Edmark Reading Program is a useful tool in helping children acquire the necessary skills to become accomplished readers.


Validation Study
The Edmark Reading Program and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
The Effects of Structured One-on-One Tutoring Journal Article
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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