Horizons is an innovative program for teaching reading that provides solid, systematic instruction using proven Direct Instruction techniques. Horizons lessons are briskly paced and built around systematic, explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics. Students employ strategies of incrementally increasing difficulty and exit the program with a solid foundation in fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. Horizons has the power to prevent reading problems and to accelerate the skills of students already showing average or above average performance. Traditional orthography (the regular alphabet) is used throughout the program.
Horizons is typically used with young students who possess basic entry level skills, such as letter names. Younger students in Horizons are taught in small, homogeneous groups that allow for optimal opportunities for practice and teacher monitoring. Older elementary readers may be taught in whole-class groups. The Fast Track A-B version of the program collapses two years of instruction into one.
Horizons Fast Track C-D provides the structure and challenging materials that develop a strong vocabulary, multiple decoding skills, and world knowledge that allow students to understand, interpret, and use new information. Horizons C-D Fast Track is the equivalent of the reading components of Reading Mastery Plus, Levels 3 and 4 collapsed into one year of instruction. The program is typically used with students who are getting a later start with reading instruction or whose first language is not English. At the completion of Horizons C-D, students typically place into fifth-grade level material.
Horizons C-D emphasizes reading to learn via high-interest stories and expository passages that incorporate study skills and critical thinking. It includes all the elements that make Direct Instruction programs so effective including explicit strategies, carefully sequenced instruction, frequent teacher feedback, and a high student success rate.