Sheila Harper, adult assistance learning coordinator for Colorado Northwestern Community College, will be starting a new program at the college called Read Right. The program, funded by a Colorado Works Block grant, will help adults learn to read in a different way.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Sheila Harper, adult assistance learning coordinator for Colorado Northwestern Community College, will be starting a new program at the college called Read Right. The program, funded by a Colorado Works Block grant, will help adults learn to read in a different way.

Adult remedial reading program could start in mid-January

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At a glance

• $88,300 grant to bring Read Right program to Craig.

• Program geared toward adults with difficulty reading.

• Read Right workshops estimated to start mid-January.

• Adults eligible for federal Health and Human Services program to be given first priority.

• Other interested adults may sign up for any leftover slots.

• Workshops are free.

• For more information, call 824-1126.

They can read a sentence.

They understand what the words mean.

But when asked to describe what they've just read, some adult readers can't do it.

Students needing remedial reading skills aren't a majority at Colorado Northwestern Community College, said Sheila Harper, full time English faculty member and Adult Learning Assistance Program coordinator at the college.

Still, she added, they're not a small group, either.

Harper recently helped the college secure an $88,300 grant for Read Right, a remedial reading program for adults. Grant funds came from Moffat County Social Services money for Colorado's welfare program, Colorado Works.

Harper hopes Read Right will fill a need in the community that has been left largely unaddressed since the last adult literacy program in Craig ended at least five years ago.

Read Right is tailored for a range of struggling adults, from those who can hardly read to those who have trouble comprehending what they read.

Some adults who have trouble reading may be hard to spot at first. In some cases, they understand what individual words mean but can't put it all together to get the gist of the sentence.

"These are people who can read," Harper said. "But comprehension is really slow for them."

In some cases, they may have to re-read a passage multiple times before understanding what it means.

Harper believes that, in many cases, neither student, nor teacher, is to blame when reading instruction doesn't click. Instead, she said, students form a "faulty neural network" while they are learning to read that sets them up for difficulties later on.

It's not unheard of for students with deficiencies in reading and other subjects to enroll in a community college.

"I think it's fair to say we do have students who come to CNCC who need remediation in reading, writing and arithmetic," Craig Campus Dean Gene Bilodeau said.

Harper, however, believes Read Right will help the college's struggling readers.

Read Right is different from other corrective reading programs, because it teaches reading as an implicit, or unconscious, skill instead of an explicit one.

"Reading is like riding a bicycle," Harper said. "If you had to tell every one of your muscles how to move : you wouldn't be able to do it," she said.

Using a four-step process involving demonstration, coaching, independent reading and critical thinking skills, the program is designed to gradually retrain adults how to read.

Harper and another CNCC literacy tutor will undergo training to teach Read Right workshops, which likely will take place several times a week.

The program is scheduled to start in mid-January, with free reading workshops to take place in the evenings at Moffat County High School.

Harper estimated between 10 and 15 slots would be available through the program this spring. However, she added, program details have yet to be finalized.

Adults who qualify for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program will receive first priority when Read Right starts next semester. These families must have at least one dependent child younger than 19 living in the home, and the family must make less than $75,000 annually to qualify, Harper said, adding that at least one of the dependent children must be a U.S. citizen, a legal permanent resident or lawfully be living in America.

However, any leftover slots will be left open for any area resident who wants to enroll.

Enrollment won't be taken until after Jan. 1. However, residents interested in the program can call Harper at 824-1126 for more information.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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