Read Right® methodology for new and struggling readers was developed more than 40 years ago when Dr. Dee Tadlock’s own son (age 7) developed a severe reading problem. Her son couldn’t read, despite the fact he had well-trained classroom teachers and a mother who had just completed a Ph.D. in education (major: reading). This sent her on a three-year quest: To figure out why all the standard approaches and theories of reading at the time (phonics, decoding, and working with whole text) couldn’t help her bright child become a successful reader.
Dr. Tadlock looked at every field that could possibly influence reading development: information theory, communication theory, language acquisition theory & linguistics, learning theory, cognitive psychology, neuro-psychology, and neuro-biology. She ultimately learned that producing excellent reading is a highly complex process performed implicitly by the brain (see Jean Piaget’s work) via the creation of anticipatory sets relative to the author’s intended meaning (see Robert Rosen’s work).
On the surface, she concluded, it may appear that phonetic decoding is the right path to reading development, because we see readers looking at the words on the page as they read and because the reading field has been telling us for 170 years that this must be the necessary first step for reading. This interpretation also enables educators to explicitly teach reading. But the assumption is likely wrong, as evidenced by the fact that only 1 in 3 children has ever become a successful reader by Grade 4 using the historically popular approach (see National Assessment of Educational Progress reading scores for the past 30 years).
Dr. Tadlock’s theory: Reading excellence can be achieved only through the brain’s implicit experimentation, which is what the brains of very young children do to figure out how to perform complex activity (grasping, crawling, walking, talking, etc.). Evidence that this is correct comes each year from the 1 percent of children ages 5 and 6 who figure out how to read on their own, without ever being asked to decode a single word. Thus, she concluded, reading excellence must grow from the ability to figure out how to use MINIMAL phonetic information (specifically: the 15 stable consonants of the alphabet) in a strategic way, and with anticipatory systems focused on the sole objective of re-constructing an author’s message.
Since her initial discoveries in the early 1980s, Dr. Tadlock’s methods have grown into Read Right® methodology–the FASTEST way for students to improve their ability to read and comprehend text. With Read Right, students are never asked to decode a single word. Instead, they work with a tutor trained in Read Right’s highly structured methods. Dr. Tadlock and Read Right Consultants have trained hundreds of educators in the methods, and these educators have worked with thousands of students across the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Success is documented through pre- and post-program testing, conducted by the dozens of schools that have worked with Read Right through the years. The documentation includes students with mild to severe reading problems and shows that all cohorts of students (Caucasian, Asian, Native American, African American, and Special Education, including students with ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism, etc.) make impressive, permanent progress. Unlike most reading programs, the older the student, the faster the growth.
The problem of far too many children, teens, and adults having reading problems is NOT the fault of teachers, parents, or students. The problem is READING IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE (identifying individual words). READING IS HIGHLY COMPLEX WORK performed by the implicitly functioning human brain. To read excellently, with full comprehension and fluency, the focus of all reading development must be on production of reading excellence, beginning with immediate recall of the sounds made by the 15 stable consonants and the correct purpose and use of punctuation (which contributes to meaning). After that, students are ready to begin with stories and books. Then, as is said: the rest is history. Read Right has documented that rapid reading development and rapid reading improvement ARE POSSIBLE when the right methods are used!
Why Do So Many Children, Teens, and Adults Have Reading Problems?
Answer: The Implicit Nature of Procedural Learning is Not Acknowledged by the Reading Field
The reading field operates on two assumptions with the potential to negatively effect reading development. These are:
- Teachers can explicitly tell students what they need to do to read, placing the emphasis on the teacher’s explicit instruction instead of the student’s excellent performance.
- The main event of reading is identifying individual words, not whatever the brain must do implicitly (below the level of conscious awareness) to construct meaning.
The “assumptions” are wrong. We know with certainty because Read Right methodology transforms struggling readers into excellent readers without ever asking a student to decode a single word.
EXPLICIT TEACHING vs. IMPLICIT PROCEDURAL LEARNING
Neuroscientists have long acknowledged the implicit nature of procedural learning. All processes—anything you can put a “how to” in front of, like how to ride a bicycle or how to read—are learned and operate primarily below the level of conscious awareness. No one has access to or control over what the brain does to make a process happen. That’s why processes cannot be explicitly taught, but must be figured out by the brain for itself. Instead, an environment must be created that enables, or even compels, the brain to figure out all of the complex neural work necessary to make excellent performance happen.
Read Right provides the right environment. That’s why it is impressively effective. Read Right unleashes the power of the brain to do what brains do: make sense of the world—we call this learning.
An iceberg is the perfect metaphor to illustrate the implicit nature of procedural learning: The small portion above the waterline represents the explicit aspects of any process that can and should be explicitly and systematically taught. The gigantic portion beneath the waterline represents the implicit aspects of the process that cannot be explicitly taught.
The brain is a powerful learning machine that, from birth, begins to experiment and learn. It can’t be stopped from learning if the environment is right. The field of education has not quickly and efficiently addressed reading problems for 160-plus years, in part, because the implicit nature of procedural learning was ignored. Rather than apply strategies appropriate for procedural learning, such as methods that support students as they experiment with reading on the road to achieving fluent and fully comprehended reading each and every time they read (when the vocabulary is known), the reading field simply reorganized, renamed, and/or re-emphasized how explicit instruction should be delivered. If explicit instruction has not solved the problem in the past, it cannot solve the problem in the future!
Read Right provides a learning environment that acknowledges the implicit nature of procedural learning. With Read Right methodology, each student’s brain regardless of the nature of the reading problem is compelled to figure out how to make excellent reading happen. The methodology simply unleashes the power of the brain to do what brain’s do—make sense of everything, whether it is simple or more complex. In this way, excellent reading supports the growth of knowledge and neural efficiency.
INDIVIDUAL WORD IDENTIFICATION VS. MEANING
Is word identification the foundational skill for reading? Logic seems to suggest that we read “individual words” on the page because we see the words. However, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) suggests otherwise. In recent neuroimaging studies. when subjects identified individual words on word lists as their brains were scanned, the neural activation pattern was significantly different as compared to the pattern that emerged when subjects read sentences and paragraphs of text. This indicates that identifying individual words and passage reading are separate and distinctly different cognitive acts. This makes perfect sense when the science of procedural learning is understood. Unfortunately, virtually all classroom reading instruction today focuses on individual word identification (decoding and/or sight-word recognition) instead of procedural learning. Fact: the human brain uses anticipatory systems guided by executive function to make all processes happen. Procedural learning focused on quality of performance is what the brain uses to develop excellence. Whereas decoding and sight-word recognition focus on the simplistic act of—identifying—one—word—at—a—time, procedural learning that places the focus on anticipating meaning compels the brain to use executive function to activate and integrate all the neural systems required to create meaning from text.
Successful readers and highly competent learners continuously search for meaning—even when they are directing the process of reading. As a result, individuals who read proficiently do not care what the individual words are. Rather, their brains want to know what the message is. Meaning is the focus, not slow and laborious individual word identification.
Every reader needs to use procedural learning to build neural circuitry for passage reading, not individual word recognition. The years and years of flat reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the dismal reality that two-thirds of our Grade 4, 8, and 12 students read at a basic level or below suggest this is true. Individual word recognition may be more effectively taught through the separate cognitive act of spelling, not reading. We recommend that students learn to read first before they learn to spell so that the brain is free to focus on an author’s message and not on decoding and how words are spelled.
Below, we invite you to compare Main Stream Reading Theory with The Read Right View. Notice how they are significantly different. This difference explains Read Right’s success transforming struggling readers into excellent readers:
Read Right’s methods are rapid and effective. Dozens of educators, school administrators, parents, and students verify its effectiveness in our Written and Video Testimonials.
We all want the same thing: Reading success for every child, teen, and adult. Read Right delivers! Rather than give educators a manual and set them free to figure out the methods on their own, we provide hundreds of hours of training with students present. Each of our Online Tutors has received the same intensive training. For our Online Reading Intervention Program, see our Online Tutoring Guarantee.
Explore this website to learn more:
- Who is Dee Tadlock, Ph.D., and how was Read Right methodology developed?
- More on the differences between main-stream reading instruction and Read Right.
- Quantitative and qualitative results attained by participating in Read Right.
- Learn more about Read Right Online Tutoring for All Ages as well as Read Right On-Site Small Group Instruction for: K-12,
- Corrections, and
- Adult Workforce Programs.
Above: Ten years ago at age 8, Ethan recommended for Special Education classes. Instead, his mother enrolled him in Read Right Online Tutoring. With just 9 months of tutoring, Ethan was reading at grade level. Our reading improvement methods lean on procedural learning associated with complex processes the brain performs, not simplistic decoding and individual word identification. How powerful is this approach? His kindergarten-age sister, Allie, wanted to participate, too–and she was reading chapter books by Grade 1.
Above: This video from our Read Right library will show you the “before” and “after” power of Read Right Tutoring for Reading. Throughout their reading intervention experience, struggling readers focus on comprehension. They are never asked to decode individual words because doing so violates the human brain’s limitations on short-term/working memory.
Excellent Reader at Age 6: Very young children can learn to read excellently from the beginning when the methodology is right. Ray Nunn’s parents followed Read Right methodology for early reading development from the day he was born (see “Read Right! Coaching Your Child to Excellence in Reading” by Dee Tadlock, Ph.D., New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005). Ray, pictured in the upper right corner, became a successful reader before starting kindergarten. In October of his kindergarten year, he tested at an upper first/lower second grade reading level. He spent Grade 1 at home, due to the COVID Pandemic. Then, in October of his Grade 2 year, testing revealed he was reading at a Grade 4 level. Seven-year-old Ray accomplished this without EVER being asked to decode a single word during his early reading development. Read Right methodology is powerful for both early reading development and elimination of reading problems.