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Reading Instruction and Students with Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities: Practice Concerns And Students With LD

ISBN: 978-1-78190-427-5, eISBN: 978-1-78190-428-2

ISSN: 0270-4013

Publication date: 2 January 2013


Students with learning disabilities characteristically demonstrate unexpected underachievement and continued learning challenges in spite of appropriate instruction. Because reading is fundamental to competency of all future endeavors, reading interventions have been the focus of considerable public and professional attention. Intensive interventions that reflect students’ cognitive processing challenges, address the need for feedback, and take into consideration the learning environment have been associated with improved student learning outcomes.

While elementary and secondary struggling readers differ, the targeted reading skills are the same. At all levels, fundamental skills such as phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary knowledge, and comprehension are crucial to reading success. At the elementary level, phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle are best taught through direct and explicit instruction; vocabulary instruction emphasizes word recognition. Fluency problems can be addressed through such activities as repeated or timed readings.

As students progress to the secondary levels, vocabulary demands become increasingly related to content acquisition, and a combination of generative and non-generative approaches to vocabulary instruction is recommended. At the secondary level, fluency practice is best coupled with comprehension instruction, which can include the explicit teaching of strategies and opportunities for students to work collaboratively. While there are no simple solutions to the challenges experienced by struggling learners, appropriate, differentiated, and intensive interventions can increase the likelihood of improved learning outcomes for these students.


McCulley, L.V., Katz, S. and Vaughn, S. (2013), "Reading Instruction and Students with Learning Disabilities", Bakken, J.P., Obiakor, F.E. and Rotatori, A.F. (Ed.) Learning Disabilities: Practice Concerns And Students With LD (Advances in Special Education, Vol. 25), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 19-43.



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