3 strategies we use to turn struggling students into confident readers


The ability to read–and read well–sets kids on a path to success. That’s why at Cambridge School, we focus on helping students with learning differences learn how to read. Students attend Cambridge School because they have been diagnosed with a language-based learning difference, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, auditory processing disorder, or executive function difficulties, and have struggled in traditional academic settings. 

But if you walk into a Cambridge School classroom during one of our reading sessions, you will see engaged students reading both silently and aloud, using devices and books. You will see teachers working one-on-one with students checking their fluency progress and reviewing important comprehension skills and relevant vocabulary. You will see hard-working students becoming more motivated, confident readers. 

Each year our students make notable fluency gains, with many reading at or above grade level by the end of 8th grade or sooner. In the 2021-22 school year, all students in grades 2-8 made fluency gains from the fall to the spring, with a 52 percent average percent increase in words read correctly per minute. How do we accomplish this?

The right tools are key to reading growth

What we’ve found at Cambridge School is that effective, individualized and evidence-based educational instruction is vital to supporting our students’ reading growth. Thus, students have three separate blocks of ELA instruction daily, including direct, explicit phonics instruction, step-by-step guided reading and comprehension instruction, and systemic, hands-on writing instruction. 

We often utilize supporting technology in conjunction with our research-based programs, and studies support this use of complementary edtech tools. A meta-analysis of dozens of rigorous studies of edtech indicated that when education technology is used to help individualize students’ learning, the results overall show “enormous promise.” 

Understanding that our students have learning differences, we work to provide positive educational opportunities that are tailored to each child’s personal strengths and learning styles. The use of evidence-based programs and a variety of supporting edtech tools help our students boost their reading confidence, increase their fluency skills and foster their interest and love of reading.

Effective use of technology in the classroom produces powerful results

At Cambridge School, all of our students have a Chromebook or a tablet. We also use a range of different technologies to help our students access grade-level content, with the focus on improving reading abilities across any and all subject areas. If we use an audiobook in a class, for example, the text will be available online so the students can read while they listen to it. 

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