ERIC Identifier: ED434331
Publication Date: 1999-09-00
Author: Quatroche, Diana J.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Reading English and Communication Bloomington IN.
Helping the Underachiever in Reading. ERIC Digest.
Learning to read is a complex process. Most children learn to read and
continue to grow in their mastery of this process. However, there continues to
be a group of children for whom learning to read is a struggle. This group that
continues to struggle presents a challenge to our schools. Thus the development
of effective intervention programs and instructional strategies for the
struggling reader, or the underachiever in reading, continues to be a topic of
concern. This digest will first review the current status of reading
performance, then report on the importance of early reading instruction. A
summary of the components of successful intervention programs will be presented
and the paper will conclude by summarizing the types of instructional activities
present in successful intervention programs.
THE CURRENT STATUS OF READING PERFORMANCE
According to the
results of the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress
(NAEP)(Donahue, Voelhl, Campbell & Mazzeo, 1999), students continue to make
improvements in their acquisition of reading skills, however this progress is
only being made at the basic level of reading. The NAEP reading report card,
which summarizes reading achievement results for grades 4, 8 and 12, reports
results at three reading levels: basic, proficient, and advanced. Achievement at
a basic reading level is partial mastery of the knowledge and skills necessary
to succeed at each grade level, achievement at a proficient level describes
solid academic performance and competence when presented with challenging
material, and achievement at an advanced level indicates superior performance.
Although the average reading scores for all grade levels increased, the
percentages of 4th, 8th and 12th graders who performed at or above the
proficient level were 31, 33, and 40 percent and the percentages who performed
at the highest level were 7, 3, and 6 percent, respectively. In addition, at
grade 4 there were no significant changes since the 1994 and 1992 assessments in
the percentages of students attaining any of the reading achievement levels.
These results demonstrate cause for concern as only one third or less of the
students demonstrated an ability to read above the basic level. A particularly
instructive finding of this study is that 12th grade students who had higher
average reading achievement reported coming from homes where there was a variety
of literacy materials available; they read for fun on their own time; they
discussed their studies; and they watched less than the average amount of
television. Furthermore, these students read each day in school, were asked by
their teachers to explain or support their understanding of what they were
reading, and were asked to explain their interpretations of what they had read.
THE IMPORTANCE OF INITIAL READING INSTRUCTION
There is now
increased interest in preventing reading problems before they develop, and in
engaging young children in activities that will enable them to meet success as
readers at the early grade levels. According to a report of the National
Research Council, the type of instruction children receive in the classroom is
very important in the prevention of reading difficulties (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). It would seem that effective instruction is a key component of
successful acquisition of reading competency and in helping to prevent
underachievement in reading. The Council makes several recommendations designed
to foster instruction that will prevent reading difficulties before they start
and that will allow all children to succeed. The report suggests that initial
Focus on using reading to gain meaning from print
Develop an understanding of the structure of spoken words
Help children understand the nature of the orthographic system
Provide practice of regular spelling-sound relationships
Provide many opportunities for reading and writing
To further ensure success in reading beyond the initial level, children need
many opportunities to develop an understanding of how sounds are represented in
print, to develop fluency through practice reading texts, to develop concepts
and vocabulary, and to develop strategies for monitoring their comprehension.
SUCCESSFUL INTERVENTION PROGRAMS
Reviews of effective
intervention programs have targeted some common characteristics that make these
programs successful (Snow et al.,1998; Pikulski, 1994; Pinnell, 1994; Wasik & Slavin, 1993). One on one and small group tutoring tend to be most
effective for children who are struggling with reading, as these provide the
most individualized attention and extra instructional time these readers need.
The instruction for struggling readers needs to be congruent with the regular
classroom instruction so that the two programs are coordinated. Children who are
struggling to learn to read need excellent instruction provided by highly
skilled personnel. This includes the instruction provided in the regular reading
program and the intervention program. These components would be essential in any
program to help underachievers in reading.
INSTRUCTION FOR UNDERACHIEVERS IN READING
interventions, which have targeted both older and younger underachievers in
reading, have included the following effective instructional practices:
Letter-sound relationships and word identification strategies should be taught
explicitly. Teach phonological awareness, letters, words and word patterns.
These skills are essential for success as a reader (Grossen, 1997).
Provide repeated exposures to words to encourage mastery. Present words in small
practice sets to provide scaffolding for struggling readers (Juel, 1996;
Explicitly teach strategies for understanding text and monitoring comprehension.
Some strategies to teach include K-W-L, self-questioning, visual imagery,
ReQuest, retelling, and Question-Answer relationships. Provide instruction that
will help struggling readers transfer these strategies to other texts (Dole,
1996; Sorrell, 1996).
Provide multiple opportunities for repeated reading of connected texts to
develop fluency. Methods of encouraging repeated reading include paired reading,
modeling, direct instruction, choral reading, neurological impress, and
providing easy reading materials. Repeated reading also helps to increase the
word recognition rate and accuracy of the reader (McCormick, 1994; Reutzel,
1994; Dowhower, 1994). References
Dole, J.A., Brown, K.J., & Trathen, W. (1996). The effects of strategy
instruction on the comprehension performance of at-risk students. "Reading
Research Quarterly, 31" (1) 62-88.
Donahue, P.L., Voelhl, K.E., Campbell, J.R.& Mazzeo, D. Reading Report
Card Executive Summary.[Online] Available
Dowhower, S.L. (1994). Repeated reading revisited: Research into practice.
"Reading and Writing Quarterly, 10" (4) 343-358.
Grossen, B. (1997). 30 years of research: What we now know about how children
learn to read. Santa Cruz, CA: Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.
[ED 415 492]
Juel, C. (1996). What makes literacy tutoring effective? "Reading Research
Quarterly, 31" (3), 268-289.
McCormick, S. (1994). A nonreader becomes a reader: A case study of literacy
acquisition by a severely disabled reader. "Reading Research Quarterly, 29" (2),
Pikulski, J. (1994). Preventing reading failure: A review of five effective
programs. "The Reading Teacher, 48" (1) 30-39.
Pinnell, G.S., Lyons, C.A., DeFord, D.E., Bryk, A.S., & Seltzer, M.
(1994). Comparing instructional models for the literacy education of high-risk
first graders. "Reading Research Quarterly, 29" (1) 8-39.
Reutzel, D.R., Hollingsworth, P.M., & Eldredge, J.L. (1994). Oral reading
instruction: The impact on student reading development. "Reading Research
Quarterly, 29" (1) 40-62.
Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S., & Griffin, P. (Eds.). (1998). "Preventing
reading difficulties in young children." Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Sorrell, A. (1996, October). Triadic approach to reading comprehension
strategy instruction. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Learning
Disabilities Association of Texas, Austin, TX. [ED 400 670]
Wasik, B.A., & Slavin, R.E. (1993). Preventing early reading failure with
one-to-one tutoring: A review of five programs. "Reading Research Quarterly, 28"