The Baratta-Lorton Reading Program, which has come to be called "Dekodiphukan" by the teachers who find the actual title too cumbersome, was created by Mary and Bob Baratta-Lorton. It was first tested in several classrooms in one inner-city school during the 1971-72 school year. In the summer of 1972, eight prototype kits were developed and placed in classrooms in neighboring school districts. All of the classrooms used for testing were in low-income, inner-city areas, where the reading scores of the children were substantially below grade level. The program was judged as highly successful in all of these classrooms.
At the same time the authors of the reading program were creating Dekodiphukan, they were writing the books Mathematics Their Way (published in 1976) and Mathematics a Way of Thinking (published in 1977). The same research that went into these two classic publications formed the foundation for Dekodiphukan.
The process of development for Dekodiphukan consisted of observing it in action in each of the eight classrooms and making modifications deemed necessary as a result of the observations. The changes made were in keeping with the program's goal of teaching every child in each class to read and to write, regardless of the child's previous success or lack of success in school. No child in any of the eight classrooms using the program failed to learn to read or to write. The program’s success rate was 100%
Once the program had been observed over the course of two years with two separate groups of children in each classroom, work on the final version of the program was begun.
In 1985, 2,000 kits of the final version were produced by the Center for Innovation in Education. The 2,000 kits, which sold out immediately, were distributed to teachers throughout the United States and Canada. The 2,000 classrooms using the program ranged from inner-city to wealthy suburban and everything in between.
Teachers who purchased these kits were in constant contact with the Center for support and to provide the Center feedback. Not one teacher in this group of 2,000 reported any learning failures for the children taught. In fact, the most common comment made was that the program was the best the teachers had ever used in permitting children to learn to read and to write with ease, with understanding, and with an actual love of the reading and writing process.
Once the initial 2,000 kits were proven in the classroom, the Center hoped to find a publisher who would market the kits, just as the Center had found a publisher for its Mathematics Their Way and Mathematics a Way of Thinking books. However, despite the tremendous success achieved by the program, traditional publishers in the United States were not willing to produce the program unless it was converted to a more marketable workbook format. The publishers were not interested in a program with so many components. It did not matter that the mix of components was vital to the success of the program.
Since the kits were durably made with no consumable parts, many of the original 2,000 kits are still in use in classrooms throughout the country. Current users are not necessarily the original kit purchasers, as the kits have been passed from teacher to teacher over the years. Retiring teachers have also on occasion returned their kits to the Center for redistribution.
One use of returned kits has been to ship them off to a particular school in India. This one school has a population of thirty-thousand students in one city, spread over twenty campuses. English is required to be spoken by all 30,000 students. While this is not a difficult requirement for students from middle and upper-class homes, where English and Hindi are both in use, it is more difficult for the children from poorer homes where Hindi is often the only language spoken. In this setting, Dekodiphukan is being used to teach five and six-year old Hindi students to speak, read and write English.
Because so many kits are still in use, the Center decided to scan in the entire program and make it available as a free download through its website. The free download makes it possible for teachers who have kits to replace aging pieces. All of the kit’s components continue to be available as free downloads.
When the iPad was first introduced to the public, it was immediately apparent to the Center that the iPad was a perfect platform for making Dekodiphukan available to the public in its originally intended format. If the traditional publishers would not distribute a program with so many pieces, the Center itself could convert it into Apps and self-publish.
The process of preparing the Dekodiphukan iPad Apps is now complete. The full program is now available for parents and teachers to download to their iPads.