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Developing Reading Skills for Healthcare Workers.

by Susan Coulter

by Susan Coulter
Baldwin Park Adult and Career Education
Posted March 2020

Homepage of Healthcare Reading Curriculum showing tabs for Levels 4.5 to 8.5

Reading Skills for Healthcare Workers is a free online literacy curriculum based on CNA and general healthcare content. There are over 200 reading selections between grade levels 4.5 and 8.5, and they are focused on developing academic and content vocabulary. For each reading, in the PreQuestions.pdf, there are some questions that help relate the reading selection to the student's previous knowledge base and introduce the vocabulary and definitions. There are three speeds of recorded texts for students to listen to for fluency development. Students chart their reading speed and record it on a graph. PostQuestions.pdf asks comprehension questions about the article and there are also some writing options centered around the selection. Reading for Healthcare Workers is great to use in an Integrated Education and Training (IET) course or prep course for healthcare workers.

If you are familiar with Marshall Adult Education's Reading Skills for Today's Adults website, the format is very similar; however, Marshall is geared to Adult Basic Education (ABE) and goes between 0.7 to 8.0 grade level.

Sample Selections

Each grade level has twenty-five selections all centered around healthcare.

Level 6.5 Stories. List of 25 stories in Level 6.5. Titles include: A Good Meal, A Pill Bottle, A Possible Case of Abuse, Amina Helps Mrs. Ericson with Her Medications, Answering the Telephone at Work, etc.


In order to place students in the correct reading level, you will need to give a pretest to students. You can use a student's CASAS Reading test score and then convert the score to grade level by using CASAS Scaled Score References for Grade Levels chart. Assign students to half a year above their current functioning level.

Emergency 911 story showing Pre/Post Questions,Story, and three readings. The article has word count to the left of each line.

  1. Pre-Reading Questions and Definitions

    There are several different ways to use the Pre-Questions. The easiest is way is to have the students open the document and then answer the questions on paper. Another way is to have students fill in their answers directly on the form and then print the form. Please Note: The document needs to be opened in Adobe Reader in order to print correctly. You can also go paperless by having students fill out the form, save it to the desktop, and then email it to you. Whichever method you use, be sure to demonstrate to your class how you want it completed. Please note: All selections are best viewed in Google Chrome.

    Pre Reading Questions and vocabulary words with definitions.

  2. Timed Reading

    Students then take a one-minute timed reading noting the number of words read. You will want to show students how to count the number of words read using the numbers at the beginning of each line. There is a timer embedded on the page; however, it is blocked due to copyright issues. You can have students time themselves with their phones or use a web-based timer. I like to time the class as a whole. Make sure your students write down their reading rate.

    Online Timer. Timer set for one minute.

  3. Graph Word Count

    You will need to print a copy of the Word Reading Chart for each student. There are three different charts. Charts are at 165 words, 220 words, and 440 words. Be sure to select a chart that gives your student room to grow.

    Graph. 220 word graph with name and level at the top.

  4. Practice Reading Out Loud with Recording

    There are three practice readings. Each one is a little faster than the one before. The story can also be downloaded and taken home to look up any unfamiliar words and practice reading the selection out loud.

    Left-hand Toolbar. Shows three reading bars recorded at different speeds underneath the timer.

  5. One Minute Timed Reading

    Students take one more timed reading (one-minute) and compare it with their last word count recorded on their graph.

  6. Record Word Count on Graph

    In the next column to the right on graph, students should record their word count.

  7. Post Reading Questions

    There are two parts to the post reading; the comprehension section and the writing section. In the comprehension section, the student is asked questions about the reading and the vocabulary. In the writing section, the student is given two options for a written response. Both the comprehension and the writing section reinforce learning.

    Post Questions Page one. six questions on understanding the article and vocabulary.Post Questions. the second page of the post questions showing 2 writing options.

Sample Activity


  1. Check Internet connection in your classroom or lab and make sure the site is not blocked at your school. Make sure there are headphones for each student.

  2. Determine how you are going to time the one-minute readings. I suggest doing the first few readings altogether as a class. The first time you might want to have the whole class do the same selection.

  3. Determine each student's Reading grade level by giving a CASAS or TABE reading test.

  4. Determine how you want students to respond to Pre-Questions and Post-Questions.

  5. Make copies of the graph.


  1. Introduce the program and how it will help prepare them for their future as a healthcare worker.

  2. Follow steps one through seven above.

  3. After a few lessons, be sure to meet with each student and review their progress. Make adjustments as needed.

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.