V.A.K.T. Reading Project
by: Robert Petrie, Special Education

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School: Central Elementary School - Commerce City, CO

Statement of Problem:According to Orton-Gillingham, poor readers appear to need a combination of visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile approaches to enhance their learning of sound/symbol relationships. If this opportunity is given them on a daily basis, using the "Intensive Phonics" program by Charlotte F. Lockhart, will significant gains be made?


1. To improve decoding skills

2. To improve perceptual motor skills

Population: Twenty-four third grade students, 13 boys and 11 girls including five identified students with learning disabilities, received instruction in an integrated classroom served by a special educator and general educator three to four days per week for four months.

Assessment: Reading level scores, obtained from the California Tests of Basic Skills, administered in the spring of 1991, were compared with scores obtained from the PIAT-R Reading Recognition Test, administered in Feb. of 1992.

Procedure: From Sept. 30, 1991, to Feb. 4, 1992 (four months), 24 third grade students received instruction for 35 to 40 minutes three to four days per week by teachers using the "Discover Intensive Phonics" program. Visible, tangible cues and modeling were combined to teach basic symbol sound relationships, word identification skills, sentence structure, spelling and perceptual motor skill development. Newly acquired reading skills were extended to the writing process.

Evaluation: In four months time the following student growth was recorded:

1) 62% six months or more growth

2) 38% less than six months growth.

The scores of students reading at or above grade level at the start of the program showed very strong growth, possibly because they were challenged. Students who started with moderate to severe needs did not exhibit dramatic gains, but did learn and improve basic letter/sound relationships and phoneme awareness.

Implications: Although the third grade level appears to be a good place to start this program, trying it sooner might keep some children from getting so far behind in the first place. Since more successful students appear to do exceptionally well with this approach, it might be introduced to them as an enriching curriculum early on so that they could get the business of reading real literature and reference material sooner. Teachers wanting to try this method need time to learn it well before using it in the classroom.

Note added by Linda Eversole, National Certified Trainer of the Charlotte Lockhart Discover Intensive Phonics for Yourself method:

The "Implications" above are correct. This program is desirable for K through 2nd Grade, when children are first learning to read. It's easy to see that it is effective with upper grades as well, and even with adults, but has the greatest impact in early, developmental years. To my knowledge, the teachers conducting this research had not been trained in the approach. Teacher training is a desirable component.