Let us tell you the story of how E.G.G.S. was hatched.
Dr. Patricia Frawley, who developed the E.G.G.S. Learning Program, has worked as a learning consultant in New Jersey public school systems for over 20 years. She was disheartened to hear an overwhelming number of students tell her that they didn’t enjoy reading and didn’t read anything for themselves, not comics, the sports pages, let alone novels.
At the same time, an increasing number of students were referred to Dr. Frawley for assessment, yet only 7 to 10 percent of these students truly had learning disabilities. They simply hadn’t acquired the skills they needed to progress at a grade and age appropriate pace.
Not one to remain idle, Dr. Frawley took it upon herself to create a better reading acquisition program. The fates smiled upon her for at about the same time, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) published their report on the skills necessary to learn how to read. They looked at over 100,000 research reports and determined that there are 5 basic skills every child needs in order to become a competent reader. The basis of The E.G.G.S. Learning Program is to teach these five skills.
And what are they? Well…
The Five Skills Necessary for Reading Acquisition are:
PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS – a grasp or recognition of the basic sounds that make up language. For example, when you say “bug,” there are three sounds present: /b/, /u/, and /g/. The ability to detect, grasp, and manipulate different sounds is essential to language and reading acquisition.
- PHONICS – in its most basic form is the ability to match sounds with their appropriate symbols/letters.
- FLUENCY – is the ability to recall information quickly, accurately, and with little mental effort. Fluent readers do not concentrate on decoding or matching sounds to letters in a conscious effort to figure out a word. They just know it when they see it so that they are more likely to comprehend the meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or story.
- VOCABULARY – is not necessarily an ability but a repertoire of words that will make phonic-competence, or alphabetic principle, click. For it doesn’t really matter if you can decode a word and sound it out, if you cannot recognize the meaning of the word.
- COMPREHENSION – is the ability to understand the meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or story. As vocabulary is the ability to understand the meaning of a string of sounds and their respective letters that make up a word, so comprehension is the ability to understand the meaning of a string of word that make a simple sentence or an entire story.
Dr. Frawley decided to develop her own reading acquisition program that would focus upon teaching young students these five skills. She did not follow the common rule of teaching the skills chronologically. In other words, she did not focus upon one skill and then move onto another two weeks or a month later.
She knew that reading, like riding a bike, is a coordinated effort combing many skills. And just as learning to ride a bike requires you to learn how to balance, pedal, and steer at the same time, so learning how to read is best done by teaching phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension together in every lesson.
This unique approach to reading acquisition, combined with previous experience as a Montessori teacher and her incredible sensitivity to her students, has made her program, called STAR, an overwhelming success in her school district.
To date over 350 kindergarten students identified as at-risk for reading difficulty have completed the program with very few needing further intervention.
While most students graduate from the program on grade level, the true success of the program is the sense of self-confidence these students developed through their actual progress in reading acquisition.
If you want to be truly amazed, check out the 2005-2006 School Year Assessment Results…
The 2005-2006 School Year Assessment Results
Orthographic knowledge, or familiarity with the letters of language, is a key indicator of success or difficulty with reading acquisition. Dr. Frawley administers an assessment test to the kindergarten students in her school district and puts the students at risk for reading difficulty in her STAR, or E.G.G.S., program. As you can see from the chart, the E.G.G.S./STAR students began the year over 12 points behind the students who were not considered at risk. By the end of the school year, the E.G.G.S./STAR students were, on average, less than one point behind. That’s a decrease of over 98%!
The E.G.G.S. Learning Program is an excellent program for Response to Intervention and for any pre-K, kindergarten, and even first grade class dedicated to ensuring that Everyone Gets a Great Start.