Flexible Literacy Program Approved for California Prisons

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Reading Horizons adopted for use in California state correctional facilities.

They chose Reading Horizons because of our flexibility of approach, our ease of implementation, simplicity, and proven results in correctional facilities.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has adopted Reading Horizons as the literacy curriculum approved for use in ABE I and intervention classes. Initially accessible in 22 correctional computer labs, Reading Horizons is now in 34 correctional facilities across the state, teaching an additional 11,000 inmates to read and training 450 teachers in effective Adult Basic Education and reading intervention.

A review begun in 2012 by the Office of Correctional Education revealed that the curriculum in place at that time was not age-appropriate, didn’t accommodate the open entry/open exit classrooms common in prison schools, and was inadequate for low-ability students. The Academic Education Leadership Council was tasked with reviewing several literacy programs and recommending a replacement curriculum. Reading Horizons was selected as the right fit.

"They chose Reading Horizons because of our flexibility of approach, our ease of implementation, simplicity, and proven results in correctional facilities," said Rob Openshaw, Sales Director for Reading Horizons. "They also liked how our program was tailored to the adult learner with age-appropriate material and offered accessible teacher training and implementation follow up."

Created for ages nine to adult, the Reading Horizons’ program features an explicit, sequential approach to reading instruction and a highly interactive, multi-sensory design. Inmates learn to decode one-syllable and multi-syllabic words by analyzing them and applying simple markings.

Because Reading Horizons offers two modes of instruction — teacher-led or computer-based, correctional facilities that do not have computer labs will now be able to offer literacy instruction to inmates in ABE I and VEP (Volunteer Education Program) classrooms.

Use of Reading Horizons is also growing in prisons equipped with computer labs. The California Health Care Facility adopted the software just this July, purchasing 85 licenses for their computers, while another facility, Avenal State Prison, recently increased the number of licenses from 28 to 150.

The CDCR reports that, based on the results of one study (see link below) involving CDCR inmates, participants in the Reading Horizons program “measured significant reading improvement within two months.” Other literacy programs could only offer comparable gains after 6 months. By choosing Reading Horizons, the CDCR is not only helping inmates achieve reading success quickly but also realizing long-term cost savings for inmate education, and ultimately, reducing recidivism and reincarceration rates in California.

More about the study on CDCR inmates:

About Reading Horizons:

Founded in 1984, Reading Horizons provides teacher training, teacher manuals, and interactive software that empower teachers to effectively teach beginning readers, struggling readers, and English language learners. By teaching students the core of Reading Horizons framework (The 42 Sounds of the Alphabet, Five Phonetic Skills, and Two Decoding Skills), students have all of the skills they need to read the vast majority of words in the English language. The Reading Horizons program is currently offered in over 10,000 schools across the country.

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Angela Stevens
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