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Why reasons can be unreasonable if we want real reading progress

The theory says it is illogical to think that we need to find the reason for a child’s slow progress. For a psychologist this is a real reality-flip. We’ve been trained to find the reason, people expect us to find the reason for a child not making progress, it’s what we do.


It makes no sense to try to find the reason for a child not making progress if we don’t know what opportunities they have had to make progress. I’ve been asked to write reports for children as part of an applications for an Education Health Care Plan Needs Assessment, but when I have observed them in their reading lessons, they have been ‘reading’ as few as 8, 15, 20 words a day… and I say ‘reading’ because of the words they have looked at, they have said 5 correctly. Their attainment levels are really low; what else could they be? These children are never going to learn to read when they see so few words a day.


The foundation of Total Words is that we will measure what progress a child can make. We’ll do that by having clear measures of the opportunities that they are being given and how much they can learn. Just by collecting these two measures each day we gain a much more relevant and useful understanding of what a child needs in order to make progress.


If you read 50 words a day, how many can you learn over 2 days, 3 days, 5 days? If you read 150 words a day, how many words can you learn?


Being a psychologist changes dramatically, but that’s a different story. The key point is that by having a system that measures both what the child has achieved and also what opportunities are needed for them to achieve, then we can it simple. We can save time. We don’t have to wait and see what progress has been made in the next assessment period. We don’t have to wait for an assessment of the child, we can get on with finding out what they can learn when they are given the opportunities to learn.



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