A Complete Special Education Reading Program

n2y Staff

Since 2008, Unique Learning System® has been changing the lives of millions of students nationwide. With standards‑aligned lessons across six grade bands, including three levels of differentiation in content to aid teaching, this special education reading program is unparalleled.

All Components of a Reading Program

The National Reading Panel cites five components as evidence of a complete reading program: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. A balanced literacy framework, which includes evidence‑based practices such as read‑aloud, guided reading, shared reading, independent reading, and word study, also contributes to ensuring students learn the fundamentals of the reading process. Unique Learning System includes all vital components of a special education reading program in each grade band from preschool through transition, including robust lesson plans for implementation success.

Let’s take a closer look at the components of a reading program.


Phonics instruction teaches children the relationships between the letters of written language and the individual sounds.


Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and quickly. Fluency bridges the gap between word recognition and comprehending what is read. An important point made by the National Institute for Literacy publication Put Reading First is that fluency changes over time, as it should be based on practice, type of reading material, and level of text. One of the most important ways to teach fluent reading in a special education reading program is to model reading fluently.


Vocabulary refers to the words we must know to communicate effectively. Exposure to new words happens in many different ways, including but not limited to direct and indirect exposure, oral communication, grade‑level texts, and books read aloud. Some students learn a portion of vocabulary by indirect means of exposure, but providing students with specific word meanings, word groupings, and word strategies is also helpful.


Comprehension is the reason for reading. It is our goal as instructors to provide our students with literature that aligns appropriately with their comprehension levels.

Unique Learning System

A Complete Special Education Reading Program

Unique Learning System is a complete special education reading program.

Verified by reading experts, Unique Learning System uses multiple evidence‑based methodologies and provides additional dynamic and robust learning and instructional opportunities for reading success. With detailed lesson plans, a library of leveled readers, and research‑based reading instruction, Unique Learning System provides complete reading instruction. Its balanced literacy framework incorporates built‑in differentiation in teaching, including teaching strategies to meet the needs of all learners.

Detailed Lesson Plans Ensuring Reading Comprehension

Built-in differentiation in teaching ensures all students can learn.

Within Unique Learning System’s scope and sequence, teachers are provided with standards‑aligned reading strategies for special education students, such as activating background knowledge, scaffolding questioning, analyzing text structure, and summarizing, to ensure students can comprehend and apply their newly acquired knowledge.

Unique Learning System’s detailed lesson plans include instructional targets in reading, as well as step‑by‑step instructional routines that incorporate read‑aloud leveled books so that all students can hear the book, providing purposeful listening and reading opportunities for them.

Because differentiation in teaching unique learners is so important to ensure meaningful progress and help meet IEP goals, scaffolded lessons are differentiated for three levels of ability and automatically assigned to students based on their individual needs.

Self‑selected reading opportunities based on interest are also incorporated into Unique Learning System lesson plans. As essential learning experiences in the classroom, self‑selected books give educators a window into the interests, desires, and curiosities of learners who may not be able to articulate their choices by any other means.

Vocabulary, Phonemic Awareness, and Fluency Instruction

Activities incorporate varied reading strategies for special education students.

Our vocabulary instruction capitalizes on natural and repeated exposure to the words and concepts that address phonemic awareness and phonics through age‑appropriate materials. This includes high‑frequency words and key vocabulary found in multiple standards‑aligned activities to build phonemic awareness and fluency. For preschool and elementary level students, the focus is on vowels and consonant sounds, as well as letter‑sound knowledge and patterns for decoding. In the higher grade bands such as middle school, high school, and transition, n2y addresses phonemic awareness and phonics with age‑respectful materials.

Additionally, high‑frequency words and vocabulary have more robust lessons with multiple activities and exposure to key vocabulary words, a valuable connection across settings for both literacy and understanding.

Library of Books

The n2y Library has over 1,000 interactive books for special education students.

Choose from the n2y Library’s collection of over 1,000 online, interactive books, including: classroom, trade, library, leveled, easy read, and chapter books for special education students. Guided reading and supplemental reading opportunities give students new ways to show what they know with a focus on comprehension, so those with various learning styles and strengths can exhibit excellence.

Introduction to Classic Literature

Middle and high school special education students can read world-class chapter books with Inspire Classics.For middle and high school students, Unique Learning System Classics can be added to a special education reading program to introduce classic literature. Through adapted texts; lesson plans that support differentiation in teaching; interactive vocabulary activities; end‑of‑chapter comprehension questions; and end‑of‑book activities, students can access material that their general education peers are reading at their own, unique level of understanding. Titles include The Call of the Wild, Romeo and Juliet, and many more!

Unique Learning System provides both the depth and breadth required of a complete special education reading program, making it a trusted, dynamic, and robust system of learning and instruction for unique learners, who especially benefit from differentiation in teaching materials.

About the Author

n2y’s blog team works closely with our special educators, in‑house experts, and program developers to share the latest topics and timely thought leadership from the field. It’s our goal to help keep you informed and ready to serve your students!