Understanding Magic Penny
The Magic Penny Reading Program has been shown to achieve 100% reading proficiency in 3rd grade as measured by an independent measure of reading comprehension (the New York State English Language Arts assessment). Magic Penny Reading is an evidencebased method that can significantly increase reading proficiency in young children. Our data suggest that once children receive this instruction, their reading proficiency is stable and can be demonstrated year after year. For best results, the program should be implemented early...in preK, Kindergarten and first grade.
How Magic Penny Reading Works
- The English language uses an alphabetic writing system based on the phoneme.
- This alphabetic writing system is a human invention that is carefully taught beginning with the phonemes that are the basis for the system.
- All other sound units are minimized (syllables, rimes, word families, etc.). Whole word approaches are avoided.
- The pronunciation of the phonemes is critically important and is carefully modeled by the teacher and in digital applications.
- After teaching the sounds, we teach the letters that represent the sounds, beginning with the simplest.
- A soon as the child begins to decode (read) words, s/he learns to encode and write words. This exposes the child to one of the most important features of the code...reversibility.
- At this point we also begin working on reading comprehension and writing.
- Spelling word lists mirror the sound/letter relationships that the child has mastered in reading.
- As the child progresses, all phonemes of the language are taught. Since the sounds of English can be spelled in different ways; this variation is systematically taught using a probabilitybased method. Rulebased phonics is avoided as these systems do not work well because there are no consistently correct rules to explain the irregularity of English spellings. Conflicting instructional approaches are avoided as they can confuse the beginning reader (especially the atrisk beginning reader).
- Decoding is developed to the point that it is automatic; automatic decoding frees up the child’s cognitive processing to focus on comprehension.
The Magic Penny Reading Program was first implemented in a Western New York public school in the 20022003 school year (30% of these children qualified for the free and reduced rate lunch program). Children in the treatment group received Magic Penny Reading instruction in Kindergarten for 30 minutes each day (The average size of the “Magic Penny” group in 20062009 was n=50). No further instruction in the Magic Penny Reading Program was received in subsequent grades.
New York State (NYS) assesses reading performance in a statewide English Language Arts (ELA) assessment that is first administered in 3rd grade. The children receiving Magic Penny Reading instruction in Kindergarten (20022003) took the 3rd grade ELA in January 2006; their scores on the NYS ELA were tracked though 6th grade in 2009. Figure 1 presents these results as compared to children in the same school who did not receive any Magic Penny Reading instruction. (components of these results were discussed in several national presentations (D Schneider, 2009; S Schneider, 2009; Schneider, 2010; Schneider, 2011).
In 2006, 100% of the children taught with the Magic Penny Reading Program scored at or above grade level on the 3rd grade NYS ELA assessment while only 44% of the children who did not receive instruction with the Magic Penny Reading Program achieved at or above grade level reading proficiency. The performance of the Magic Penny group was remarkably similar over the 4 years that these data were tracked.
These data demonstrate that the Magic Penny Reading Program is a highly effective method for achieving reading proficiency. In addition, the data suggest that once children receive this instruction, their reading proficiency is stable and can be demonstrated year after year.
Figure 1. New York State English Language Arts Assessment (2006 – 2009).