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Celebrating 20 Years of Evidence-Based Education and SpellRead

How is the investment in Halifax Learning different from other programs?

By Halifax Learning on Tue, Nov 01, 2022 @ 11:10 AM

How is the investment in Halifax Learning different from other programs?

This is a great question and one we are often asked. Of course, this makes so much sense. Parents have to make decisions every day to ensure their children are properly taken care of, inside and outside of the home. 

If a parent or caregiver is at the point where they are looking at outside interventions they need to make sure 100% that it’s the right environment for their child.  We encourage reading testimonials, solid reviews, and outcomes!   

At Halifax Learning, how do you measure student progress?

SpellRead provides a clear path for your students to master phonological automaticity, to transfer those skills, and to become efficient readers. Our program is explicit, systematic, multi-sensory, and evidence-driven, and meets the needs of even the most struggling learner.

SpellRead integrates ongoing assessment and evaluation through carefully designed checkpoints for timed reading. This ensures students achieve automatic recognition of the letter-sound relationship. Students work toward realistic goals and receive ongoing review and individualized instruction.

In each class, students participate in reading aloud and independent writing. After each class, our instructors assign a score from our carefully designed rubrics. These scores inform our instructors in their selection of reading material and mini-lessons designed to remediate common errors. 

Finally, Halifax Learning takes pride in communicating student progress with families. We are fortunate to have wonderful instructors who love to celebrate the day’s successes and also highlight things to work on at the end of each class.  We also have a dedicated team of program support specialists who can check in with parents at any time.  

What results can we expect and in what time period? Are they sustainable?

Our goal is to bring skills to the point at, or even above grade level, within one year.

We administer assessments for all new enrollments, at the midway point and upon completion of the recommended registration in the SpellRead program. Our results are sustainable and the research supports it!

What professionals refer to Halifax Learning and SpellRead?

We have a long list of individuals who refer to us, including clinical psychologists, teachers, speech-language pathologists, and community groups, but our number one source of referrals comes from our graduates and their families!

Who are the instructors?  

Our instructors come from all walks of life and backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: a love of reading and student success! Our instructors all come to us with post-secondary education, then we train them in our methodology. 

How are SpellRead instructors trained?

Our instructors go through a comprehensive blended training process that follows best practices principles for UDL (Universal Design for Learning). After the successful completion of the initial training, instructors are regularly observed and submit daily reports after each class. Experienced SpellRead instructors provide bi-weekly feedback to ensure students are meeting outcomes and progressing at the expected rate.

Does your program have independent reviews? If so, can we see the research?

Does it ever! Click here to review our extensive research library.

Did you know SpellRead was rated #1 by What Works Clearing House for small-group reading instruction?  Most recently, SpellRead was recognized for its effectiveness in the Ontario Human Rights Commission Right to Read Inquiry Report released in February 2022.

What will your reading assessment provide?

Our assessment measures the 5 core skills required to become a skilled reader: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Our clients are provided with a digital copy of the initial, progress, and final assessment reports that clearly compare results and show progress.

Click here to book an initial assessment today - it's free of charge with no obligation to enroll. 

Why do you do what you do?

Because reading doesn't just happen. There is a science to it.  We can all do better to ensure children receive reading instruction that we know works. When you know better, you do better and the science is unequivocally clear. It just so happens that Halifax Learning has been delivering this science-based reading instructional method for over twenty years and guess what? The results are clear! We've changed thousands of lives!

Don't wait. Trust the experts.

Our dedicated team of educators and specialists has been delivering SpellRead for over twenty years. We are committed to working with families and troubleshooting any barriers to enrollment. 

As you consider SpellRead, no doubt as a parent you are doing your due diligence and comparing what we do at Halifax Learning with other programs available and you should.  This is an investment in a child's future.

What really makes us different? It’s our results. SpellRead has significant independent research supporting its effectiveness. As you have conversations with other service providers, ask them:

  • How they are aligned with the science of reading?
  • Do they have independent data validating student results? 

At Halifax Learning, we are not offering tutoring; we are providing a curriculum designed to change the way a student’s brain responds to reading. Every child deserves to develop efficient and effective literacy skills and we can help. 


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The journey of a Reading Rockstar.

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Oct 20, 2022 @ 02:33 PM


Welcome to Halifax Learning.

We are so excited to begin this journey with you and your child. At Halifax Learning, we are leaders in evidence-driven, science of reading program delivery and teacher training.  

Our goal is your child’s literacy success. At the end of their time with us, students are confident, efficient readers! Collectively, we have worked with thousands of children, youth, and adults to achieve this outcome. Ensuring equity in literacy skill acquisition is very important to us and it's our privilege to be working with your child. 

We pride ourselves on delivering a program that is responsive and inclusive, and an in-person or online classroom experience that is collaborative, kind, and confidence-building. 

So how do we start?

Let’s start with an assessment

Our free, in-depth literacy skills assessment helps us understand your child’s needs and allows us to place them in a class with other students their age and skill level. We also use this assessment as a benchmark, as your child will be re-assessed at the halfway point and at the end of the program. 

The battery of tests we use is well-known and highly regarded in the academic world. We encourage you to share these with your child’s teacher at school, and we’re available to meet with additional school professionals to share more information.  


If you are keen to skip ahead and have an assessment and consult - please click here! 


What to expect when you start a class?

Whether you are working with one of our teachers in person or online, our goal is to make sure your child is coming into a welcoming and encouraging space.                                                                

  • All of our teachers have post-secondary education, but most importantly, they are excellent coaches, mentors, and cheerleaders! They all participate in SpellRead’s teacher training program and there is a support team behind them all the way to make sure your child is progressing. 

  • You will have brief communication with your child’s instructor at the end of each class, either in person or by way of email. The goal of this communication is to make sure you understand the homework assigned and also to give you any highlights of this class - new sounds learned or how active reading and writing connections went. 

  • Because our teachers are heavily supported by Halifax Learning support specialists, if we feel as though we’re encountering a hiccup, a member of our support team will reach out and set up a time to connect. 

  • You will hear from our Admissions Director a few times within their first month of classes to make sure things are going smoothly, but feel free to reach out to her if you have questions.

Want to see inside a classroom? Take a peek with us now:)


What does the class flow look like?

  • Our classes are typically 60-90 minutes long. During that time, students spend about 55% of the class on linguistic foundations and 45% of the class on active reading and writing connections.   We work in small groups and group students based on age/grade and skill level.  The goal is that one child is never held back or pushed forward before they are ready. 

  • There are three phases to the SpellRead program: A, B, C. All students start in Phase A; depending on the initial assessment and age of a student, sometimes Phase A can take just a few months to complete, or sometimes it takes the better part of a year. 

  • When we meet to discuss your child’s progress assessment, we will be able to talk more about whether or not they will complete all three phases during their full-year program with us and if not, whether or not they need to.

    Age and grade have a lot to do with it - but don’t worry. Our most important goal is to make sure your child is closing their gap and working towards ensuring literacy skills are at or above grade level. 


What are our touchpoints? You can put these on your calendar! 

  • Two-week mark - homework/calendar of events information is sent 
  • Two-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child two months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Five-month mark - your child will have their interim assessment followed by a meeting time with our support team to review the results and programming in general 
  • Eight-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child eight months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Completing the program - most students complete the program in about a year.  At this point you will be contacted about their exit -assessment, a time to review their progress and a time to go over the maintenance package we will be sending home 



  • Parents have direct contact with our support team at any time.  
  • Consistent communication with the instructor. 
  • Upon request - we can facilitate a meeting with a child’s school and meet with a school team to talk about all programming and ways to provide some wrap-around.


Would you like to schedule a 15-minute conversation and just chat? Click here. We would love to talk. 



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Let's talk about the value of efficient literacy skills!

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Oct 20, 2022 @ 02:26 PM

Let’s talk about affordability and value! 

At Halifax Learning, we understand that our program is an investment however we know that the value of secure and efficient literacy skills is priceless!  Our goal is to ensure reading efficiently, maximizing the imaginative potential of each brain and the economic impact of every individual!

At our centre, we celebrate the importance of “human capital.” The most important resource in our world is people and our children. Literacy and poor literacy levels are at the root of many issues. We know we can help change this however it’s challenging for many families to access when we consider the cost of raising children in an inflationary environment.

We’ve created this document to help you better understand what the investment in SpellRead looks like short-term and long-term and some other ways to possibly help offset this cost. 

What do our payment plans look like? 

We offer payment plans designed to work within a family's budget.  This could mean paying over an extended period of time if necessary.

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Our hourly rate is $63 per hour. In general, the majority of students are with us for between 120-140 hours. 

What is the value of this investment? This is a question we are often asked! 

The goal of SpellRead is to ensure that all students’ literacy skills move to a point where they are at or even above grade level, and most importantly, to ensure these skills are sustainable. 

  •  Poor literacy skills should never be a barrier to an individual reaching their potential. 

  • Your child will be working in an inclusive environment with other children of a similar age and skill set (based on our in-depth literacy assessment) with a highly qualified SpellRead instructor.  

  • All of our instructors have a post-secondary education and all come to us with excellent coaching, mentoring, and cheerleading skills! We train them in our methodology with continuous internal program support specialists who are supporting our instructors and your children - RESULTS MATTER! 

  • We are also available to meet with your child’s school and explain our program and explore any opportunities to provide more of a wraparound approach and incorporate homework support during their school day. 

Would you like to hear what other parents are saying or review our results? We publish our student results quarterly and welcome all parent and student feedback. Click here to learn more


What are our touchpoints as your child journeys through our program? 

  • Two-week mark - homework/calendar of events information is sent 
  • Two-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child two months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Five-month mark - your child will have their interim assessment followed by a meeting time with our support team to review the results and programming in general 
  • Eight-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child eight months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Completing the program - most students complete the program in about a year.  At this point, you will be contacted about their exit -assessment, a time to review their progress, and a time to go over the maintenance package we will be sending home 


Communication is very important! 

  • Parents have direct contact with our support team at any time.  
  • Consistent communication with your child's instructor.
  • Upon request - we can facilitate a meeting with a child’s school and meet with a school team to discuss our programming and ways to provide some wrap-around instruction.

Is cost a barrier? It can be and we want to be able to help with this! 

After the assessment, we’ll sit down and discuss our payment plan options with you and answer any questions. Our goal is to work with you so that your child can access the value of our program without it becoming a stressful monthly payment. 

~The payment doesn't last forever but the results do! ~


Here are some helpful tips to explore as you consider affordability: 

Extended Health Benefits

Do you have an EAP (employee assistance plan) through health coverage or through an employer? Be sure to ask:

  • Is a doctor’s referral needed?
  • How much coverage do I have and when is the renewal (most plans are based on a calendar year but this is not always true)?
  • Are there any restrictions?

Tax Credits & Benefits

Your child and/or family may be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit and/or Child Disability Benefit. The CRA website or your accountant/financial advisor can help you determine your eligibility.

If you would like to know more about the disability tax credit, you can watch this webinar by Dyslexia Canada.

Another possible option is to claim your SpellRead tuition as a medical expense when you do your taxes. You can learn more here. To claim a medical expense, you will need a doctor’s referral to the program.  

If you would like to discuss our program results or see if SpellRead is a good fit for your child, please reach out today! 

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Noteworthy Education Conference Coming to Halifax – and our Founder is Presenting!

By Halifax Learning on Wed, Aug 24, 2022 @ 03:15 PM

researchED Twitter

A very exciting event is happening in Halifax on November 12th!  

ResearchEd bridges the gap between research and practice in education. At their events, researchers, teachers, and policymakers come together for a day of information-sharing and myth-busting. Their events are held globally, and the Canadian venue on November 12th is Saint Mary’s University in Halifax from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm ADT.

Our own Sarah Arnold, Halifax Learning’s founder and pioneer of the SpellRead Program, will be speaking at this momentous event. SpellRead was recommended by the Ontario Right to Read Inquiry as an effective, science-based, and driven literacy program. This will be a chance to align with ResearchEd’s mission to raise research literacy in the teaching profession and the education sector more generally.

The Symposium theme is “Shoring Up the Foundations – Student Behaviour and Learning to Read.”

This will be an informative day, with an opportunity to learn from some of the smartest and best voices in education discussing reading and behaviour. Pay rapt attention to the Keynote by Dr. Jamie Metsala, the Gail and Stephen Jarislowsky Chair in Learning Disabilities at Mount Saint Vincent University.  We certainly take a keen interest in her work. Dr. Metsala was one of the subject matter experts and advisors to the Right2Read executive summary inquiry (more information on the inquiry can be found at the link below) and is well known for her research on reading. We are sure you will enjoy listening to her speak.

We encourage your attendance.  With a nominal fee, you will come away with invaluable learnings.

Click for more information and to register

To learn more about Ontario’s Right to Read inquiry, check out our blog post 

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SpellRead, the Gold Standard in Reading Programs: Now Online!

By Halifax Learning on Wed, Aug 24, 2022 @ 03:15 PM


Are you aware that SpellRead is available in both in-person and online formats?

Perhaps you are in a community where in-person programming is not available. Or your children are in many activities, and it’s hard to balance them all. Now you can have access to this valuable resource virtually.

We know that over the past few years people have had mixed experiences with online learning. While we can’t speak for every experience, at Halifax Learning, we strive to make you feel comfortable and at ease with our delivery. In that regard, we schedule shorter, more frequent classes for our students, which has proven very effective.

There are some other methods we use to promote online learning as a viable option. For example, our online teacher-student is the 1:3 ratio — quite different from other online teaching experiences. We have reviewed what works best for different age groups, so we are aware of when our students need to move or have a break, and we accommodate this. We also love the benefit to parents! They enjoy being able to see their child learn and are pleased to be more informed with regard to our teaching methods.

The SpellRead Online programming is based on two years of delivery — continuously studying best practices around online learning specific to certain age groups. So Halifax Learning is well-equipped to provide a great learning experience, in-person or virtually. An online SpellRead class is identical to our clinic delivery model.

You may wonder if you have the proper setup for online study. Well, it frankly isn’t the right fit for every student. You are required to have excellent internet at home, a quiet space and a parent within earshot. This creates a program as rich online as it is in person.

For many families, SpellRead online is a very rich and effective solution. It is also very convenient for parents with children in many activities.

The good news is that we can tell from our assessment if SpellRead online will be effective for your student. So why not get started with a free assessment today? Find out more and book your assessment here:

Book an Assessment with SpellRead


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COVID and the Impact on Childhood Learning and Development

By Halifax Learning on Tue, Jun 21, 2022 @ 12:50 PM

Young boy concentrating on his schoolwork sitting at his desk in the classroom with his head in his hands reading his class notes

Has COVID affected your child's education? It likely has. Not only have reading and numeracy levels been compromised, but communication, life experiences, and students' relationships with each other and those in the education system have also been affected.

Although provincial plans have been created, they don't seem to address some of the critical components involving losses experienced by students overall. Although well-intentioned, the detail required to rectify the learning slide that has taken place is missing.

CBC's investigation into these provincial education initiatives, found at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/learning-curve-catch-up-recovery-plans-1.6472721, is telling. Many interviews shared the same message: provinces need to create more comprehensive, specific strategies to assess student learning levels and utilize additional funding set aside for education to have the maximum effect possible. 

In addition, racialized and marginalized populations have taken even more of a toll, and these students need policies in place to get them up to speed with the levels that are consistent with standardized levels.  

So much has been lost for students during the pandemic. As educators, we must embrace the emerging evidence that our children's needs are not being met.  

As literacy coaches, we knew before the pandemic that many children were being disenfranchised by inadequate literacy instruction. We find that teachers are incredible and sincere in what they are teaching. However, their impact is reduced due to the oversight in their B.Ed. courses of the basics of teaching with a focus on the science of reading. This disparity is becoming even more significant given the development lost due to the pandemic. 

Our enrollment coordinators note that many parents have contacted us over the last two years due to concerns about a COVID slide. However, many others realized just how far behind their child's literacy skills were after watching them participate in online learning at home. 

Of course, at Halifax Learning, we consider each child's needs, ensuring they get the best possible care delivered with understanding and patience. However, the parent conversations have taken a turn. Navigating this pandemic has been an experience for everyone. Not only has the anxiety and stress that this has put on our children and educators been dramatic, but it is frustrating for parents trying to juggle their children's social, emotional, and academic needs. In addition, the emerging issue of life affordability, although not new, is also taking a toll.

The goal is for our delivery of the SpellRead program to live in teachers' classrooms. We've made some inroads in training public teachers in Ontario and with the African Canadian Services Branch in the Nova Scotia Department of Education. We have effectively trained teachers to deliver the program to youth in schools. However, this only targets a small number of students, and the issue is widespread and complex.  

If parents are wondering about their child's literacy skills, we offer a free learning assessment for students. In less than one hour, you will learn more about how you or a member of your family processes language and comprehends text. Our assessment provides a clear understanding of strengths and weaknesses and gives us a picture of how the student reads. The evaluation looks at students' phonological and phonetic skills, reading fluency, word recognition, comprehension, and writing and spelling skills. The results are discussed with you, and suggestions for steps moving forward are made.   

We also have a bursary program. All families can apply, and an amount is determined based on affordability. 

Ultimately, teachers should have access to structured literacy training in teachers' colleges. We recommend that college educators take heed of the alarming pattern emerging and ensure that teachers are learning the basics of teaching with an evidence-based, science of reading focus in their B.Ed. courses. If you are a teacher looking for more information, please visit our website dedicated to teacher training: www.resultsyoucanread.ca 

We are here to help. Reach out and book your free assessment now: 

Book a Free Assessment

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Backyard Fun That Secretly Teaches

By Eryn Steele on Thu, Jun 16, 2022 @ 07:27 PM

Science is everywhere! You don't need to go to a zoo - you can find all kinds of science-related experiences right in your own backyard. Here is a super simple list of science activities that are both fun and full of learning.

Happy kid exploring nature with magnifying glass

What Can We Find? This is pretty straightforward, but probably not as boring as you'd think. Grass and soil are full of worms, ants, and all kinds of little critters that you wouldn't notice every day. Look under rocks, wood, and leaves. For smaller kids, focus on how individual critters use their bodies to get around (for example, having six legs, wings, or no legs at all). For older kids, bring a book to help them formally identify the creatures they find. You can also expand this activity to identify trees, birds, and other elements in the environment.

How Does It Fall? A backyard likely offers some high perches (a deck, for example) where you and your child can investigate how different things fall. Try things like balls, paper, a feather, or leaves. Do they all fall the same way? Which items fall faster? What is gravity?

Shadow Shakers: If it's sunny, encourage your child to experiment with their own shadow. What shapes can they make? Hand animals are always fun. Try incorporating items with interesting shapes and slowly rotate items to see how their shadows change.

Make It Grow: Get your child to observe and record the growth of a plant or animal. This can happen any time of year, especially if you plant something indoors. Depending on where you live, it may be tricky to find an animal to follow, but caterpillars or ducklings are often easy to identify. Growing veggies is also a really educational activity, and yields some delicious rewards!

HotEarth resized 600

Hot/Hotter/Hottest: When the sun is shining bright, different surfaces feel warmer or cooler. Metal slides, for example, are much too hot on a hot summer afternoon. How does the shade of a tree impact the temperature? How does a breeze impact the temperature? Use you hand or an outdoor thermometer to investigate what can impact the heat.

How Does It Slide? Find an array of materials (balls, blocks, toys etc) and see how they all go down the slide. Ask your child to make predictions about items before they slide them. Will the item slide quickly? Will it continue to roll once the slide ends? Why does it roll more effectively than other things? This activity teaches about gravity, momentum, and shapes. This can also be expanded to "How Does It Fly", which is using paper airplanes and other items to test aerodynamics.

Balance Challenge: If your backyard doesn’t have a makeshift balance beam (a plank of wood laid on the grass, for example), head to the nearest park for some balance challenges. Don’t just walk across the beam - make it tricky! Try walking the beam with a book on your head. Try balancing something on the palm of your hand while you walk. Try balancing something (a pencil, for example) on your index finger. How do you stay balanced? What are some tricks to make it easier? How does the speed of movement impact balance?  Try this indoors by balancing on one foot.  Can you balance as long on a cushion as on the floor?  How about with your eyes closed?

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A Family Tree: Use flowers, rocks, or leaves to represent family members. Explain how, just like trees, families branch out. Starting with grandparents, use the materials to map out who is who in a family, and connect them all with branches to demonstrate how they all intersect.

Tap into your child's curiosity to keep their mind active and have fun while you're at it! Your backyard has a lot to offer! These activities are extremely simple, but familiarize your child with many important ideas. Go online to find more backyard activity ideas, or get creative and come up with your own!

If you have concerns about your child's reading levels why not get a true picture of the situation with a free no-obligation reading assessment.

Book a Free Assessment



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Recommended Books for your Reading List

By Halifax Learning on Mon, May 16, 2022 @ 09:08 AM

Looking for reading for your children for the Summer?  We have a special download for you at the end of this post!

Halifax Learning hired our first co-op student, Basel!  This was through a program with Saint Mary’s University.

We hired Basel Elkhalifa to help with our social media content creation.  Aside from helping create relevant content that we could use to explain and elevate our program, we also decided to use this co-op opportunity to do something we've been wanting to do for a long time – research and create a children’s booklist to celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Basel did an excellent job of this by breaking the content up into months, and researching children's literature specific to different cultures.  Basel has included books and authors from across the country, with a primary focus on keeping it local to Nova Scotia. 

We are pleased to offer this curated selection of 39 books that will be educational and informative for young and old alike.  The recommended reading includes:

    • Black History Month
    • Asian Heritage Month
    • Jewish Heritage Month
    • National Indigenous Month
    • Pride Month
    • Women’s History Month
    • Mi’kmaq History Month
    • Universal Human Rights Month

Along with a special mention of a book entitled “Hassan and Aneesa Love Ramadan”.

Click below to see the list and get started on your Summer reading!:

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For more information on the St. Mary’s University Co-op Education Program, 

Contact the Co-operative Education, Career & Experiential Learning department at  

902-410-4626 or visit their website at  www.smu.ca/coop


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Meet our Community Engagement Director:  Shakisha Downey

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Mar 24, 2022 @ 10:01 AM

Staff Images-ROUND_Shakisha Downey

Shakisha Downey's role has evolved at Halifax Learning. Shakisha has been an integral part of our team since 2017 and now takes on the role of Community Engagement Director. Let's get to know Shakisha (she/her).

Graduating from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology, she is now studying for her Bachelor of Social Work with the goal of completing her Masters in Social Work. Shakisha's pursuit of education in this field of social work was spurred on by her personal experience as a former child in care. This educational opportunity has been a professional and personal development experience for her.

She came on board with us to work with families on financing and delivering science-based programming in our in-person and online clinics and in Halifax Regional Centre for Education schools and community centres. She was attracted to Halifax Learning because of their understanding of illiteracy as a social justice issue. Growing up, education was her anchor in a life of many uncertainties, something she could always be proud to be a part of. Shakisha strongly believes literacy can change the path taken by anyone in life, especially for those who have been marginalized or denied access to opportunities. For her, literacy and knowledge are power, and she wanted to be a part of empowering younger generations.

As the Community Engagement Director for Halifax Learning, she works on creating, organizing, and maintaining community-based literacy programs, workshops, and opportunities in Halifax Regional Municipality with the overall theme of Affirmative Action and advancing social justice for marginalized individuals and communities.

Shakisha finds her work with Halifax Learning to be rewarding for the opportunity she has to be a part of creating and maintaining transformative learning journeys for children and youth who have experienced trauma and/or marginalization.

Her favourite reading material includes books that tell real-life stories about additions, abuse, and other personal struggles. It all started for her with "Go ask Alice, Anonymous" and a number of books by Ellen Hopkins she read in Junior High.

What does she do for fun? She loves to take long drives along the coast to admire the adored ocean views of Nova Scotia. Some of her favourite places to visit are the Cape Breton Highlands and Scots Bay. She also loves to take her  Lab-Mastiff out for a good long walk and swim. In fact, what she loves about living in Atlantic Canada is the ocean! In her words, "I'm a sucker for saltwater and rocky or sandy beaches".  

As a favourite 'pump up' song, what will you hear her listening to? Well, anything Justin Bieber and her current song of the moment is "Attention" by Omah.  But this could change any minute!

Make sure to reach out to Shakisha for assistance with funding, scholarships, for working with HLC and much more!

HubSpot Video


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Right to Read Inquiry Uncovers Inequities, Recommendations

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Mar 03, 2022 @ 05:30 PM

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has released their report from the Right to Read Inquiry. At issue was whether learning-disabled and marginalized students were subject to human rights violations during their instruction in Ontario public schools.

The Commission’s findings were released February 28th 2022.

right to read inquiry

How data was collected

Both numerical and qualitative (narrative, descriptive means of data collection) were collected and analyzed. Several key findings emerged:

Learning outcomes for learning-disabled, Black, Indigenous, low-income, students from racialized groups and other marginalized subsets were concerning to the Commission. For example, Indigenous students were less likely to reach provincial reading benchmarks than their white counterparts. Their five-year graduation rates were lower than their white counterparts.

The demand for early intervention programs (Kindergarten through Grade 2) outstripped the supply, and many students’ needs were continuing to go unmet under the current eligibility guidelines.

The main source of the numerical data was EQAO standardized test scores.

Report uncovers limited access, widespread inequity

The Commission found Ontario public schools failed to provide evidence-based instruction to struggling students. Schools are taking a “wait and see” approach for struggling students instead of creating access to reading support and evidence-based intervention. Students must also have a formal diagnosis and a psycho-educational assessment to be eligible for interventions.

These factors disproportionately affect marginalized and lower-income students who historically lack access to diagnostic and evaluation services.

Increasing access, removing barriers

Recommendations from the Commission to remedy this portion of the findings included the implementation of evidence-based, systemic, phonics, and word-reading programs for students who needed them. The Commission also recommended removing inappropriate barriers, such as required psycho-educational assessments, which were costly when privately obtained, and out of reach to limited-income families.

Additionally, the lack of province-wide consistency means uneven access for students, especially those most in need of reading intervention programs. School boards used 16 different programs, only five of which were evidence-based. The board-developed programs were not rigorously evaluated or vetted before implementation.

Additionally, the Commission proposed developing standardized, evidence-based eligibility criteria for students.

The Commission also recommended making evidence-based reading interventions widely available at each grade level.

SpellRead earns high marks for a science-based approach

However, once the evidence-based program, SpellRead, received high praise for its science-backed, age-appropriate, and comprehensive approach to reading instruction. Aimed at students with or without a diagnosis, studies in Newfoundland, Novia Scotia and the U.S. have demonstrated the program’s positive effect on students’ decoding skills, word reading, fluency, and comprehension.

SpellRead has been regarded as the Gold Standard of evidence-based reading programs, and its implementation throughout Canada would benefit struggling students and even the learning playing field.

The implementation of SpellRead fall in line with the Commission’s recommendation to implement standardized, evidence-based reading programs for struggling readers.

To do this, the Commission also recommended the Ministry of Education allocate additional funding to hire and train additional teachers to facilitate the recommended reading programs. Doing so would eliminate the current “wait and see” approach and would increase access for students who would otherwise struggle without intervention.

Furthermore, the Commission encouraged increased accountability and transparent communication at the school board level. Parents and students should be able to receive clear, timely communication regarding the availability of reading intervention programs.

Although the report uncovered inequities within Ontario’s public school system for students from marginalized groups, it did identify concrete solutions to closing the achievement gap that currently exists.

The ability to read fluently is a right all students should have access to, regardless of their socioeconomic standing or group identity. By implementing science-based, standardized reading intervention programs and removing access barriers, more students will be able to succeed not only at reading but life outside of school.


Topics: Right to Read
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