- Education & Youth
100 W. 10th Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Reading Assist Institute is dedicated to teaching the foundational sills of reading to children with significant academic challenges empowering them to achieve grade-level proficiency.
About Reading Assist Institute
Reading Assist Institute (RAI) believes that no child should be allowed to fail when success is possible. RAI serves students in grades K-12, although our primary focus is elementary school children in grades 1-3 who suffer from language-based learning disabilities including dyslexia. These students have been identified by the school-based Response to Intervention team as reading at or below the 25th percentile and require intensive, consistent, individualized (one-to-one) instruction.
Most children will master the skills and knowledge needed for reading – mechanics of reading, language and communication and content knowledge – through conventional classroom instruction. However, at least 20% of early elementary students will struggle with the mechanics of reading. They will have difficulty making the connections between symbol, sound and meaning. These students need a more explicit, structured, sequential and cumulative phonics-based approach as supplemental instruction. Without a strong foundation in the mechanics of reading struggling readers will not be able to master accuracy and fluency, two critical skills needed to achieve reading proficiency.
The focus of RAI’s Reading Intervention Program is to teach students the foundational skills of reading. These skills include phonological awareness, knowledge of letters and their corresponding sounds, and the ability to “sound out” or decode words accurately. Phonological awareness is the student’s explicit knowledge of the phonemes or sound segments which make up words. Students who lack phonological awareness have difficulty acquiring knowledge of letters and their associated sounds. Once phonological awareness is in place, the student is prepared to learn about the alphabetic sound-symbol correspondences and the patterns of the English language.
Students need to learn to perform these “mechanics” quickly and automatically enough to be able to comprehend what is read. The ability to read words fluently, with accuracy and automaticity is highly correlated with comprehension, the ultimate goal of reading. If students can’t fluently decode the words on the page there can’t be adequate comprehension.
For more than 25 years, RAI has managed a successful reading intervention program using highly trained community volunteers serving approximately 200 elementary students per year. RAI continues to operate our volunteer tutor program that serves students throughout the State of Delaware and in neighboring counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Our program is highly effective, yet the number of students served by volunteers is limited by the number of volunteers who can make the extensive training and time commitment necessary to provide intensive, consistent intervention.
RAI Reading Corps Pilot Program
In 2015, Reading Assist Institute was awarded a formula fund grant from the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) to establish the RAI Reading Corps using AmeriCorps members.
Reading Corps members will participate in 50 hours of training in RAI’s multi-sensory, phonics-based, explicit, sequential and systematic, supplemental reading curriculum. They will receive supervision and coaching throughout the year to ensure the fidelity of the program. The RAI Reading Corps works exclusively with Tier III students in grades 1-3 to develop the skills necessary for fluent reading, writing and spelling. Tier III students are identified by school-based Response to Intervention teams as students in need of intensive, one-on-one intervention. Schools often lack sufficient resources and the explicit expertise needed to provide consistent individualized instruction to these students. The RAI Reading Corps provides a highly skilled instructional resource to schools for the intensive needs of Tier III students.
In a partnership with the Colonial School District, 13 RAI Reading Corps members were placed full-time in low-income elementary schools beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. Reading Corps members are assigned six students for the school year or for the duration of intervention needed. Students will be tutored individually, on the school property, during the school day, outside of the classroom for 45 minutes every day throughout the school year. The increased frequency along with the consistency of the same tutor working with the same students every day will significantly help to close the achievement gap. As students increase their reading skills enough to be folded back into the general classroom instruction, additional students will be brought into the program, always maintaining the 6:1 student/tutor ratio.
Reading Assist Institute’s Impact
In Delaware, 63% of 4th graders scored below “Proficient” in the 2015 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Children faced with language-based learning disabilities including dyslexia, who are disadvantaged by poverty or are English Language Learners scored even lower on proficiency levels. The Annie E. Casey Foundations KIDS COUNT 2010 report Early Learning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters states, learning to read proficiently by the end of third grade is critical; from 4th grade on children are expected to be reading to learn. After 3rd grade text becomes more complex, subject matter and concepts more difficult. Any student who has not reached proficiency in grade-level reading by the start of 4th grade will begin living the academic struggle.
Research tells us that in a normal distribution of human population 20% of students will struggle with learning to read through conventional classroom instruction. Because of social and organizational factors, the percentage of students in Delaware public schools is significantly higher.
The DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency subtest is used to measure outcomes and is administered at the beginning, middle and end of the year. Two scores are obtained: accuracy and rate (Words Correct per Minute, WCPM). A typical second grader is expected to increase their accuracy by 7.78% and their WCPM by 67.31% from the beginning to the end of second grade. 83% of students in the RAPS Intervention for the 2014-2015 school year in the Volunteer Community Program, increased their accuracy and rate by more than that expected for a typical second grader, accelerating their progress toward the 2nd grade benchmark thus helping them to close the gap.
- Year Founded 1989
- Legal Form 501c3