After the introduction of READ 180, our blended intervention program for students from Grades 4–12, our research revealed that almost 20% of the students identified as needing literacy intervention were below the READ 180 second-grade threshold and did not have basic decoding and encoding skills. We brought together practitioners who had deep experience with well-known foundational reading programs and authors who represented learning science, cognitive science, and the science of teaching reading—bold-faced names like Marilyn Adams, Ted Hasselbring, and Julie Washington. Their work brought a new, breakthrough blended foundational reading program for older students to life.
If you could see the names of everyone who contributed to the program, it would look like the credits at the end-of-a blockbuster movie! Content, research, art and design, learning architecture, and engineering are all represented. There came a point where the program had everything but a name.
There are companies that only focus on naming programs like ours, but that approach didn’t work for us. It took the collective energy and enthusiasm from all those who helped develop the program to name it System 44. This year marks its 10th anniversary.
Here’s the thinking behind the name:
- 44: It’s probably quite apparent that the 44 represents the 44 sounds of the English language. More deeply, it came to remind us of the complexity of the English language and the difficulty of learning the ABCs as an older student because the 44 sounds do not correspond one-to-one with the written 26 letters in the American English alphabet.
- System: This was the most creative element. The research is clear that foundational reading must be both systematic and explicit. There is less understanding of systematicity. This is a way of thinking about systems, like the solar system, for their various components and interactions. For the solar system, these would include the sun and the planets. The alphabet is a system made up of sounds and letters, and it’s the interactions among the different parts that are critical to understanding the deep orthography of the English language. For example, when silent or signal e is positioned at the end of a word, the vowel that proceeds it will be long.
So there’s the story behind the name System 44! Ten years later, it means even more because it represents another opportunity for students to master the foundations of reading, change the trajectory of their literary learning, and be on their way to success in school and beyond.
Learn more about System 44, our foundational program for striving readers in Grades 3–12.