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The PCI Reading Program for Special Education Reading Program for Special Education - Overview Level One PCI Reading Program Level Two PCI Reading Program Level Three Reading Program

The PCI Reading Program is a Research-Based, Evidence-Based Reading Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities:

    • Built for Student Success
    • Features 62 Engaging, Age-Appropriate Student Books
    • Provides Continuous Progress Monitoring
    • Integrates Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies in Easy-to-Follow Lesson Cycles

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Designed as a three-level system, the PCI Reading Program helps nonreaders learn to read step by step, first through whole-word visual discrimination and then through basic decoding using onsets and rimes. As students progress through the three levels, they learn to read 405 words and become more and more independent in their ability to decode unknown words.

Each level of the PCI Reading Program has been carefully designed to guide students step by step to reading success and independence. Students begin Level One focused on learning high-frequency sight words and real-world nouns and verbs through visual discrimination. Phonemic awareness and phonics skills are slowly layered in so that by Level Three students can use the words they know to identify 23 onsets and 20 rimes for word building and decoding.

(Click Each Level Below for Details)

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What Educators Are Saying About The PCI Reading Program

"The PCI Reading program has, in only 5 short weeks, turned several of my non-reading students into readers! I look forward to the remainder of the year and seeing my students' confidence and reading abilities soar."
Erica R. Teacher

"I love the repetition that the program offers, along with the supplemental activities – it is a great way for students with autism to learn to read."
Amanda B. Autism Program Asst. Director

"The PCI Reading Program is very systematic and sequential with lots of reinforcement for kids that need repetition."
Margie G. Reading Specialist

"I was so excited to find a program like the PCI Reading Program to bring to our school. The program components are very thorough and I love the fact that after learning only 5 essential words that the students are actually reading mini-books!"
Dale F. Curriculum Coordinator

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Click below to see more detail and downloads!
Click to Learn More about Level OneClick for Level Two Reading ProgramClick for Reading Level Three


This three-level program incorporates high-frequency words and real-world words within a comprehensive program of instruction, practice, and assessment. Nonreaders become readers through a system of repetition, hands-on practice, errorless discrimination, controlled reading, and high-interest activities.

Level One of the PCI Reading Program teaches nonreaders to automatically recognize Child Learning to Read140 sight words and common nouns and verbs through visual discrimination. Several sight word lists were used to compile the words, including the Dolch and Fry word lists.

All Level One materials are carefully controlled to include only words students have learned, thereby promoting early reading success. Students read a book after every five words they learn, for a total of 28 books.


Level Two teaches 140 additional words, advancing students from a 1.0 reading level to a 2.0-2.5 reading level. While Level Two’s focus is still on teaching words through visual discrimination, it also introduces students to wrapped text, common inflectional endings, such as –s, -ing, and –ed, and compound words. Level Two uses the same lesson cycle that students became familiar with in Level One, but it teaches the words in groups of ten rather than five.


In Level Three,  the 280 words students have learned in Levels One and Two are linked together by phonetic patterns to develop students' basic decoding strategies and word-attack skills. The Level Three skills are the final links in the bridge toward reading independence beyond the program.


The PCI Reading Program Software (Currently available for Levels One and Two) is a multimedia presentation of the print program. The software includes all of the lessons and can be used alone or in conjunction with the print program.

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Student Prerequisites
To begin Level One of the Program, students need to be able to follow simple, one-sentence directions and demonstrate their understanding of a teacher’s request by either pointing or responding verbally. Students must also be able to see words on a page and somehow point to or otherwise indicate identification of those words. They need to be able to communicate a response to a question or directive. Students do not need to know the alphabet, although they must be able to visually discriminate between words and letters. For students who need additional practice in visual discrimination before beginning the program, teachers should use the lesson plans in Unit One of the Building Reading Skills binder.

It is important to note that Level One of the PCI Reading Program is a systematic, whole-word approach to reading with a large amount of built-in repetition and review. This program is not intended for general education.

It was developed for students with special needs who have not learned to read in traditional or multisensory phonics curriculums. In general, the students who begin Level One will be true nonreaders, regardless of age. At the start of the program, they may not be able to read or recognize a single word.

Why Repetition and Review?
One of the keys to the success of the PCI Reading Program is the thoughtful use of repetition and review to ensure both short- and long-term retention of the words taught. Many basal and other mainstream reading programs provide only 8 to 12 repetitions of a sight word or other vocabulary word to be learned. Quality intervention reading programs often provide 30 or more repetitions. But for students with developmental disabilities and significant learning differences, short- and long-term memory is often one of the problems that make it difficult to learn and retain skills.

With these students in mind, the authors carefully constructed the activities to include over 100 practice and review opportunities for every word taught. Words are introduced and reviewed continually in every step of the program. This repetition is varied, involving every major learning modality, including visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic. As a result, short- and long-term retention is virtually assured. When a student does demonstrate a lack of retention, teachers can remediate this immediately by having a student redo the appropriate Word Building or Guided Word Practice Lesson. The included software version of the Word Building Lessons also provides an excellent means of additional review.

For Nonreaders of All Ages
The authors developed the PCI Reading Program with nonreaders of all ages in mind. All three levels of the program are supported by realistic illustrations of everyday objects and settings. The books provided in each leveled kit feature contemporary adolescent characters and age-appropriate story lines. Ultimately, the program is appropriate for students ages 5 to adult.

While this program was specifically created for students with special needs, it is also appropriate for English-language learners who have a learning disability. It is important to note, however, that the high level of repetition and review in the program is not appropriate for some English-language learners.

An Individualized Program
The PCI Reading Program is intended for use as a one-on-one program. All of the lessons and materials are structured for an adult facilitator to use with one student at the student’s own pace. This facilitator can be a teacher, paraeducator, parent, or any other adult working under the direction of a certified teacher. Scripts and cues are provided in the various lesson books to make the program easy to administer. In general, a facilitator can be trained to administer all of the elements of the program in one-half day or less.

Because of the one-on-one nature of the program, students can complete the program at their own pace. As a result, it is not uncommon for a classroom using the PCI Reading Program to have every student at a different point in the curriculum, even if all of the students started the program on the same day.

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Click below to see more detail and downloads!
Click to Learn More about Level OneClick for Level Two Reading ProgramClick for Reading Level Three

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