After years of education, the ability to quickly read, digest and comprehend material may still be a struggle for some students. If students find that they are lacking in vocabulary, comprehension or other reading skills, a developmental reading program can prepare the students for the demands of college coursework or for advancing in a chosen trade industry or career field.


A developmental reading program helps students catch up if they are lacking in the basics of comprehension, vocabulary or other reading-based skills.

Definition of a Developmental Reading Program

A quality developmental reading program is a methodical instruction in reading skills and strategies that integrates a positive attitude toward reading in general. It can take a good reader and extend his skills and appreciation for reading, opening brand-new worlds and extending his breadth of knowledge about subjects to which he is drawn. A well-rounded developmental reading program teaches pupils strategies they can use when reading resource books, articles, textbooks and other sources to further their education. It will prepare the student for college coursework or other higher education pursuits.

How a Developmental Reading Program Works

Unfortunately, a number of high school students graduate without the adequate reading, comprehension and vocabulary skills that they need to advance to college or excel in the workforce. Additional reading skills can be quickly obtained through a college course or a community-based supplemental reading program.

The foundation of a good developmental reading program is to help students to recognize and learn to use text features. It will help prepare a student to approach a text by scanning, questioning, reading, reciting and reviewing a passage or chapter. The teacher will educate students on how to first scan a particular text and then thoroughly read titles, subtitles and accompanying photo captions to gain rudimentary knowledge of the text. The student should be better able to understand and remember particular points of the text. Rudimentary reading abilities are necessary before a student begins a developmental reading program, such as basic vocabulary, decoding and phonemic skills.

When to Take a Developmental Reading Course

The additional training and experience that a developmental reading program provides can propel a student into future success in college as well as in her chosen career field. The program should be utilized if a student is even slightly behind in reading comprehension or has low scores on college entrance exams. College courses can require substantial amounts of time digesting information in piles of textbooks. By addressing the issue early, a student can navigate her college career with greater ease.

A college typically requires that a student complete a developmental reading course within the first semester or by the end of the first academic year. They may not count toward the courses needed to complete your degree in your specified major. Discuss compensation or student aid with the admissions office or a guidance counselor if you need to take remedial reading or a developmental reading program that is above and beyond the coursework you need to complete your degree. There may be developmental reading programs offered for free through a church, community-based charity or other local outlet.

Different Levels of Reading

There are four levels of reading: elementary, inspectional, analytical and syntopical. Elementary reading, or rudimentary reading, is the beginning of literacy. Inspectional reading is aimed at getting the most out of a book or text in a given time. This can also be called skimming or prereading. Analytical reading is a more complex level of reading with an emphasis on comprehension. Syntopical reading delves further into a topic and compares different texts to gain a better and more thorough understanding of a subject.

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