Summer program aims to boost struggling readers

  Sunday, May 20, 2018 3:00 PM
  News, Academics

Pittsburg, KS

Secret Codes


Ask any teacher what they hope children do most of over the summer break and chances are good they'll all answer with one word: read. 

But for many children, doing so is a struggle.  

Statistics reflect that. Nationally, 33 percent of children don't read at the basic level, and 58 percent don't read at the proficient level.  

This summer, there is help for area youth in Kindergarten through Grade 5 

Pittsburg State Professor David Hurford, who several years ago developed the "Secret Codes" curriculum based on the science of reading that has helped teachers in public education better help their students, is now offering a summer program on campus to help individual readers improve their skills. 

Hurford heads up PSU's Center for Reading, which is focused on research, science-based evaluations, state-of-the-art interventions, and increasing awareness when it comes to students with dyslexia and other reading challenges.  

His summer program, based on his Secret Codes curriculum, will begin June 4 and run through July. Young readers Kindergarten through Grade 5 sign up for one hour per day, Monday through Thursday, and use Friday as a catch-up day if necessary. They will complete half of a year-long curriculum during that time. 

The cost is $80 for materials and $320 for tuition. Scholarship assistance is possible. Each class size will be 10 or fewer, with two instructors per class. 

"I was hoping to get reading failure down to under 10 percent," he said. "And with Secret Codes, it's been down under 3 percent." 

Kathy Fuss, a first grade teacher at Cleveland Primary School in Cleveland, Oklahoma, said the curriculum is "life changing." 

"Several years ago, I faced some of the biggest battles of my teaching career. I was failing as a teacher...several students struggled with reading every year," she said.  

She heard Hurford speak at a conference and noted that his scientific information and studies coincided with the statistics she observed in the classroom. Hurford agreed to meet with her school's reading specialist, and they began piloting his program.  

"The success rate of our students was 100 percent," she said. "It was humbling to see all children succeed and watch as they recognized that they, too, were brilliant!" 

Blue Valley educator Rebecca Boman has used the curriculum with a second grader she's been working with for two years.  

She had tried several researched based direct instruction programs with him and saw limited progress. 

Then, in December, they began Secret Codes. 

"We are currently on Unit 6 and I have seen tremendous progress both in his ability to sound out words and especially in his writing," Boman said. "He has gone from having someone dictate everything he writes to wanting to write independently on his own. He has become more confident and less frustrated."  

To enroll in the summer program, call Hurford at 620-235-4534.