Students who are non-readers, or those who are reading below a fourth grade level and significantly behind grade level, are enrolled in Oakland’s acclaimed Upward Lift program, which was developed in the early days of the school and refined over the past 60 years.
Offered only during summer camp, this intensive five-week program includes three 50-minute periods of reading daily.
The main objectives are to systematically:
Improve the child’s reading level by up to one year or more, as measured by achievement level and;
Raise the student’s self-esteem and openness to learning by providing a successful experience and measurable growth.
Despite having reading difficulties, most students have average to above average intelligence and come to Oakland with solid comprehension skills. However, these children still need to learn the process of reading to develop comfort and fluency. Upward Lift focuses on making gains in decoding and word recognition, teaching students how to read the words and sentences before working on advanced comprehension skills.
Each day includes a group phonics period where students learn phonics rules, decoding skills, and the structural analysis of words in a telescoped version of a full year’s course. We focus on the vowel sounds in each word, making word division and blending more fluid for the child. Then, using multisensory modalities, students practice hearing and repeating words as well as writing words at chalkboards designed especially for the program.
For the second and third daily reading periods, students receive multiple one-to-one sessions that include a review of phonics lessons, a preview of a reading passage, then practice reading aloud with the teacher. The students also work independently using materials chosen specifically for each child to build, strengthen, and reinforce skills.
The intensity of the Upward Lift program produces dramatic results, often increasing reading levels by a full year in just a matter of weeks. More important than test scores, though, is that students realize they can learn, gaining confidence and motivation to work towards the next academic milestone.