As we saw in Reading Defined, two core elements of accomplished reading are decoding and comprehension.
If a child cannot decode fluently, their mental energy is absorbed with the task of figuring out words, at the expense of comprehension. We’ve all seen this: a child works so hard at individual words that by the time they reach the end of the sentence, the overall meaning is lost. The problem can usually be traced to one or more aspects of phonological awareness.
There are of course children who can decode fluently, but still the meaning of the text eludes them. Whereas decoding is about the sounds of speech and their representations in print, comprehension is a linguistic skill, the ability to think in language, in words. It requires the use of appropriate strategies, and verbal memory and the ability to manipulate verbal information.
As with decoding, the break down can be in one or more areas. Some children have a very good memory for a passage they have read, but are unable to summarise or draw conclusions: they can remember but not process language at an appropriate level. Others simply cannot hold onto the information contained in a single sentence.
When a child fails to learn to read, the break down will be in the underlying skills of decoding or comprehension, or both.
For some children, the problem is solved once they have learnt to isolate the sounds of speech, and realise that decoding is about these sounds.
Others can do this, but have a particular problem with putting the sounds together at a speed that allows them to read.
Yet others can decode fluently, but are unable to process the information they have decoded.
For some, it is all of the above.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The Agility With Sound assessment determines which aspects of the reading process are failing, pinpoints exactly what this child’s needs are. It then tells the administrator what to do, which part of the programme addresses those needs, and where to start with this child. The specific needs of individual children can then be met within the general programme.