I have never been a fan of Reading Milestones, a highly structured reading program designed for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. I thought they were too simplistic, too structured, showed unnatural language, and demonstrated low expectations for our Deaf kids. I've seen many DHH children succeed in this program but never able to confidently read literature.
Last year, my principal and special education director wanted me to try out this program since it is research-based and all the laws, regulations, and best teaching practices say to use research-based reading programs. So I borrowed the program from a colleague who has been using the new 4th edition with her DHH students with success.
While looking at the stories and the workbooks in this new edition, I thought "Wait a minute. This isn't the Reading Milestones that I knew from years back." I could see current reading standards being addressed. I saw that in the Red Books the sentence was all on one page. I saw a lot of informational text. Hmmm....maybe.
So I started using the series last February. Within a few weeks I saw a dramatic change in my students' reading confidence and independent work habits. Within a few months I was sold. The kids would bring home their book, which includes 6 stories, to read for homework only to come back and tell me they read all 6 stories. The kids were excited to get to the next story. I even saw their vocabulary retention, ability to determine context clues for multiple meanings and better translate from English to ASL. The students improved on their spring MAP tests, especially in the area of language usage.
This year their new teacher has pushed them even harder by challenging them with more higher reading level and they are excelling at the challenge.
I decided to use Reading Milestones with 3 of my middle school students, 2 of them have cognitive disabilities. In 1 semester's time, 1 student's reading has increased at least 1 year and 1 child whose reading was too low to test on the STAR reading test now is reading in the range of 0.9 to 1.9. The 3rd student hasn't been tested yet.
I see these kids wanting to read picture and chapter books like I've never seen before.!
I have shared with other people that sometimes I feel like I short changed my students' education by not introducing them to Reading Milestones sooner. But then I realized (with colleague's help) that they probably wouldn't have flourished with the old editions.
In a separate post I'll share as to how I use Reading Milestones with my signing kids, incorporating all those bilingual techniques that have made me a great teacher and have always given Deaf students best access to reading any piece of text.