The research and science we considered
in the development of CAPIT Reading. 

Research has established that the development of reading comprehension is highly dependent on a student’s ability to read written words accurately and fluently. Moreover, research shows that automaticity of word reading is directly related to cognitive resources devoted to constructing meaning from text (e.g., Jenkins, Fuchs, van den Broek, Espin, & Deno, 2003; Walczyk, 2000). Therefore, reading researchers view word reading and listening comprehension as the essential skills required to comprehend written text. This view is the central tenet in the Simple View of Reading framework (Gough, Hoover, & Peterson, 1996; Hoover & Gough, 1990), wherein reading ability (i.e., reading comprehension) is the product of a reader’s decoding (or word reading) skill and linguistic (or listening) comprehension.

As decoding skills are best taught through an organized synthetic phonics program, it should come as no surprise that:

Findings have provided solid support for the conclusion that systematic phonics instruction makes a bigger contribution to children’s growth in reading than alternative programs providing unsystematic or no phonics instruction. (NRP, 2000, 2-92)

Students taught phonics systematically outperformed students who were taught a variety of non-systematic or non-phonics programs, including basal programs, whole language approaches, and whole-word programs. (NRP, 2000, 2-95)

And wherein reading comprehension is the product of a reader’s decoding skill and linguistic (or listening) comprehension, it should not surprise that:

Growth in reading comprehension is also boosted by systematic phonics instruction for younger students and reading disabled students. These findings should dispel any belief that teaching phonics systematically to young children interferes with their ability to read and comprehend text. Quite the opposite is the case. (NRP, 2000, 2-94)

Given these conclusions, CAPIT Reading’s PK-2 approach to learning to read is a phonics based approach, which is based on the English sound system. For example, the word “cat” has three sounds, /c/ /a/ /t/. Each “Sound” in English can be spelled in multiple ways. For example, the sound /r/ can be “r” as in rake, “R” as in Run, “wr” as in wrench, and “rh” as in rhino (see Figure 1). No other language in the world has so many “Spelling Patterns” for its Sounds of speech. This is why the English writing system is harder to learn than almost any other.

Level 2, Lesson 13

Level 2, Lesson 36

Level 3, Lesson 11

Level 4, Lesson 11

Figure 1. The /r/ Sound and its four Spelling Patterns in CAPIT Reading.

A comprehensive curriculum for English would, by necessity, teach each and every “Sound” of the English language—all 46 phonemes—and then teach how each of these “Sounds” are spelled. The work of reading researchers and in particular Dr. Diane McGuinness guided our instructional design decisions. But to our knowledge, no comprehensive effort has ever been made to properly categorize the entire English sound system, and to layer-and-stack these spelling patterns into a coherent curriculum. In our estimation, the 46 Sounds of English can be spelled in about 180 Spelling Patterns. The CAPIT Reading curriculum teaches students to read English by first teaching the 46 Sounds, and then teaches them how to spell those sounds, one spelling at a time, one lesson at a time.

The CAPIT Reading curriculum puts into practice the recommendations from the NRP (2000) Report and does what no other English curriculum has attempted before: a synthetic phonics program that teaches the entire English alphabetic code, without omitting a single Sound or Spelling Pattern. To our knowledge, no other reading product does this.

Additionally, to help facilitate Sound to Symbol correspondence, CAPIT Reading provides a “visual mnemonic” for every single letter in the English alphabet, both lowercase and uppercase. These visual mnemonics (see Figure 2 for two examples) help establish an objective association in the student’s mind between the Sound and Spelling, unburdening the student’s memory, and easing the learning process.

Aside from the visual component, CAPIT Reading provides physical toys, so the students can physically touch the sounds and hold them in their hand. Each letter comes with a corresponding toy. We call them: Tactile Visual Mnemonics™ (CAPIT Toys). The NRP (2000; see also Ehri, Deffner, & Wilce, 1984; Mastropieri, Sweda, & Scruggs, 2000; Scruggs Mastropieri, & Berkeley, 2010) extols the virtue of visual mnemonics, which it believes helps children with the difficult task of memorizing “arbitrary and meaningless” relations between “shapes and sounds.” In order to help kids learn to read, it is important to help them establish an “objective” (as opposed to “arbitrary”) relationship between the Sound and the Spelling. This is best done by using an “object” that looks like the letter, and has a name that begins with the same “sound” that the letter represents. For example, /L/ and Laptop (the “Laptop” looks like the letter “L” and starts with the phoneme /l/).


Researchers have reported that in their 1st and 2nd grade cohorts, oral language (i.e. listening or linguistic comprehension) and decoding skill figure about equally in their contributions to reading comprehension (see Foorman, 2015). Others (see Tunmer and Chapman, 2012) found that decoding skill weighed somewhat more heavily than language comprehension in their study of 3rd grade students. In regards to adult readers, researchers have found that the reading comprehension of better readers seems to be more constrained by limits on their oral language comprehension than on decoding skill, whereas limits on decoding figure more prominently in less skilled readers (see Braze, Katz, Magnuson, Mencl, Tabor, Van Dyke, Gong, Johns and Shankweiler, 2015).

A systematic phonics program that employs a consistent and singular approach in the teaching of Sound to Spelling associations can help fill the decoding gaps in student’s reading ability.

Figure 2. Example of the use of Visual Mnemonics in establishing sound to symbol correspondence.