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The i.t.a. Program at Houston Public Schools
The i.t.a. Program at Houston Public Schools
Submitted by Ms. Shelley Jerviss

Did you know that the sound of K has six different spellings? For example:   bla
ckcook, sarcastic, cabbage, kid, chaos
This is why spelling can be so challenging for some students. This is where i.t.a. can help!
Who uses the i.t.a. Program at Houston Public Schools?
The i.t.a. Program
 is provided to our school in grades K-12 through grants written to the i.t.a. Foundation.
What is the initial teaching alphabet (i.t.a.)?
The initial teaching alphabet (i.t.a.) is a phonemic alphabet that represents the 44  sounds of spoken English. It was designed to give beginning readers a logical and reliable reading and writing system.
When students understand that print is speech written down, that words are made up of speech sounds, that the symbols and the speech sounds agree, they can read anything that they understand. When they know how to form the symbols, they can write anything they can say.
As they become fluent readers and writers in i.t.a., they become aware of the conventional spellings in traditional orthography. They know that they can write one third of the words that are similar and the one third that are slightly different. The rest of the words they know they must learn to spell. They become proficient readers and writers without struggling with complex spelling patterns in the beginning stages of literacy development. (source: 

What do we do?

ROAR – Repeated Oral Assisted Reading
This is a done daily starting with a 1 minute timed reading, which is charted; then practiced reading (I read, We read, You read) for 15 minutes, then one more timed reading which is also charted. Gains are easily seen in the chart and are motivating for students to continue to try harder.

More information about
ROAR can be found here: http://itafoundation.org/reading/reading-2/roar/ 

Students do daily writings for 15 minutes on a variety of topics to increase and improve their writing skills.

By using the i.t.a. alphabet, each symbol
represents each sound in the spoken language and when you write in i.t.a. you write the sounds you hear, thereby improving your symbol sound relationships. When mastery is shown you transition to the traditional alphabet and in the process your spelling improves.


Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary
This is a video from the annual ITA conference held in Winona, MN.  Ms. Shelley Jerviss is presenting on vocabulary and comprehension strategies.

Link to the i.t.a. Foundation (
itafoundation.org) for more photos, presentations and further explanations of the program.

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