At the beginning of March, I spoke with Amy Seeley and Mike Bergin at the Tests and the Rest podcast about some of the issues involved in helping struggling teenage readers prepare for standardized tests. The interview was originally scheduled for 25 minutes, but our conversation picked up so much steam that Amy and Mike decided to keep going and turn the interview into a two-parter.

The first part aired a few weeks ago, but I’ve been so busy that I actually forgot to post it (whoops!), but now that the second part has aired, I really don’t have an excuse.

Listen to Part 1, and Part 2.

For anyone who’s read my semi-recent articles or watched my webinar on this topic, it’s pretty familiar ground. But we also covered some interesting issues related to vocabulary, and how relatively minor decoding problems can affect comprehension in subtle and insidious ways—even when the overall meaning of a text can be grasped without knowledge of a particular hard-to-decode words.

As I explained to Amy and Mike (whom I’m not sure totally believed me), although reading is an incredibly complex process, a small amount of targeted, age-appropriate phonics can nevertheless make a real difference for some students. But if tutors aren’t aware of how these issues can manifest themselves, and don’t know what steps to take to address them, then the tutoring process essentially becomes focused on workarounds, and the underlying problems persist.

Anyway, it was a great conversation, and on a topic I really can’t say enough about.