Literacy and Learning: Volume 23


Table of contents

(16 chapters)
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The primary purpose of this chapter is to describe intensive multicomponent reading interventions for use in Response to Intervention (RTI) implementation within elementary and middle schools. In early elementary grades, RTI has a focus on prevention through effective classroom instruction and increasingly powerful early interventions to meet student needs. By contrast, in middle school, the focus of RTI shifts to remediation and the provision of interventions with the power to help more students to be able to read on grade level. First, we provide an overview of RTI and explain the notion of treatment validity within RTI implementation. Next, we describe a kindergarten study that illustrates how the intensity of delivery may impact expected outcomes at Tier 2 and then summarize research on extensive interventions for the primary grades. Then we summarize remedial interventions for older students and examine the percent of older students whose reading could be normalized by focusing on a newly developed intensive middle school remedial intervention that incorporates code- and meaning-focused instruction in a peer-mediated format. Finally, we will discuss RTI challenges and implementation issues.

The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the role of context in the identification of learning disabilities (LD) within the responsiveness-to-intervention (RTI) model. In Study 1, using a sample of students with and without LD (N=167) and data from a reading assessment, we tested whether the decision making regarding literacy disabilities is significantly different if we take into account variability within the schools and school characteristics. Initially a logistic multilevel model was fit to the data to assess prevalence rates of LD identification. The validity of these estimates was substantiated by bootstrapping the sample's parameters using 1,000 replications and by evidencing negligible bias parameters. Subsequently, the relationship between reading ability and LD identification was established by means of a multilevel model including random effects. The significant slopes linking reading to LD identification (i.e., fluency and overall reading ability ratings by teachers) were predicted by cross-level interactions involving schools' location (rural, urban, and suburban). The results of Study 1 demonstrated the moderating role of school context, as the slopes linking fluency and reading achievement to LD placement were moderated by the area in which a school was located. Study 2 was designed to present a relative discrepancy identification model by taking into account information from the school (i.e., district). Using 29 students from one district, whose writing ability was evaluated three times within the semester, comparisons were made between a specific low-ability student and the rest of his/her class. Through fitting a multilevel model in which within-student and between-student variance was assessed, Study 2 demonstrated that the specific pattern of responsiveness of a target student can be tested against the norm of his/her school district in order to have a more sensitive relative criterion of what constitutes both responsiveness and the norm. Thus, by utilizing a multilevel framework that involves school characteristics into our assessment we demonstrated that decision making is much more informative and likely more “accurate” under the RTI model. Certainly more research is needed to verify the usefulness and applicability of the proposed “relative slope-difference discrepancy model.”

In response to the urgent national need to implement evidence-based literacy supports for adolescent struggling readers (ASRs), this chapter provides a framework for addressing reading comprehension instruction. Schools face significant challenges in the education of ASRs including how to address the achievement gap that emerges between proficient readers and a variety of poor reader subgroups predicted by the Simple View of Reading. The authors present current research in the components of reading comprehension (e.g., text structures, vocabulary, prior knowledge, cognitive strategies, and motivation) and explicit pedagogical practices associated with improving outcomes for ASRs, including a school-wide framework called the Content Literacy Continuum. Two specific interventions with supporting research are presented as model practices to improve outcomes for ASRs.

Spanish-speaking children learn to read words written in a relatively transparent orthography. Variations in orthographic transparency may shape the manifestation of reading difficulties. This study was intended to help clarify the nature of developmental dyslexia in Spanish. Developmental dyslexic group (DD) were compared to two control groups, a chronological age-matched control group (CA) and a reading level-matched control group (RL). Measures included naming speed, verbal working memory (WM), phonological short-term memory (STM), phonemic awareness, and different reading subtests (letter, word and pseudoword reading, punctuation mark, reading skills). On the reading subtests, accuracy and reading speed were measured. Results demonstrated that developmental dyslexics show a severe deficit in lexical access on accuracy and speed measures, in addition to reading-related cognitive deficits in areas such as naming speed, verbal WM, phonological STM, and phonemic awareness. Hierarchical cluster analysis demonstrated that a subgroup of children with DD showed lower IQs and more severe reading-related cognitive deficits in naming speed, verbal WM, and phonological STM. Our results are consistent with studies conducted in the Spanish language and in other transparent orthographies.

Literacy demands have changed over the years and for success in society it is necessary to handle a wide range of texts and written information. The school has been criticized for not giving their pupils the necessary abilities to handle the kind of information they are faced with in society. One important dimension of literacy is reading comprehension, but even though much written information has the form of tables, drawings, graphs, etc. such presentations are most often accompanied by written text. This chapter focuses the comprehension of different kinds of written information, and data from different tasks are evaluated in light of the simple view of reading. A total of 132 grade 6 readers were given four reading comprehension tasks concurrently with a decoding task and a listening comprehension task. It was found that the sum of decoding and listening comprehension accounted for a larger part of the variance in all the reading comprehension tasks than the product of decoding and listening comprehension. The pupils' results on a naming task and morphological tasks from preschool accounted for significant parts of the variance in the comprehension of both plain text and text combined with tables and graphs over and above the concurrent decoding and listening comprehension results. Speed of orthographic identification in 2nd grade accounted for an additional, significant part of the variance in the plain text reading tasks. These results show that processing speed and linguistic knowledge, such as morphological knowledge, are important contributors to the comprehension of different kinds of written information. Even if speed of orthographic identification is especially important for comprehending plain texts, a broad linguistic and cognitive perspective seems to be important when preparing pupils to comprehend different kinds of written material.

This study examined literacy instruction in 14 first grade classrooms (9 classrooms in Year One and 5 classrooms in Year Two) of English Language Learners in three schools in Southern California. Pre and posttest measures of reading for 186 first graders across 2 years, representing 11 different native languages yielded outcome data. These data were examined in reference to ratings of the quality of instruction based on the use of the English Learners Classroom Observation Instrument (ELCOI). Students were followed through 6th grade (n=59). Results indicated a moderately strong correlation (r=.65) between teacher rating and oral reading fluency scores of students at the end of 1st grade and a strong correlation (−.83) between teacher rating and number of students reading below end of 1st grade reading thresholds. Descriptive longitudinal data on passage reading comprehension and oral reading fluency yielded moderately strong correlations in 3rd grade. By 6th grade, correlations between 1st grade literacy practices and reading were weak (r=.016). Students who were labeled with learning disabilities were extremely weak readers without exception, however, several students who performed at benchmark in 1st grade were later labeled. Educational implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Young children write to learn the alphabetic code, take notes to help them remember, and provide meaningful text to others. These are cognitively and linguistically complex processes. Reciprocal relationships among the development of writing, the purposes of writing, and the learners of interest impact instructional approaches and student outcomes. Teachers can increase success when they provide explicit and systematic self-regulation and writing instruction, view children as collaborators in the process, provide scaffolding that gradually shifts the responsibility to the children, and adapt instruction to meet the abilities and interests of the children. Effective instructional practices for young children with disabilities or who are at risk, are presented, for example, scaffolded writing, the use of graphic organizers, and self-regulated strategy development.

While weaknesses for students with learning disabilities (LD) may exist in basic reading skills, difficulty understanding text goes beyond reading the words on the page. The complex nature of reading requires educators to provide struggling readers with reading strategies that support active engagement with text, comprehension monitoring, and a means to organize their understanding before, during, and after reading. In this chapter we describe collaborative strategic reading (CSR), a multicomponent model for teaching reading comprehension strategies. CSR has been associated with reading gains for students with LD as well as low- and high-achieving students, and English language learners. We provide information about teaching reading strategies as well as suggestions for overcoming possible stumbling blocks to implementation.

An exploratory study was undertaken to examine the implementation of strategy instruction in persuasive writing with a class of 10 adolescent students with severe emotional/behavioral disabilities (EBD). Several learner characteristics were observed to interact with curriculum and instructional variables. Modifications were made, on an ongoing basis, to respond to these student characteristics. After approximately four months of instruction, findings indicated that all students had mastered the components of effective persuasive essay writing, and performed competently on criterion writing measures, greatly different from performance at the beginning of instruction. Although the design of this investigation does not allow for definitive causal explanations, insights were gained regarding the interaction between EBD characteristics and strategy instruction. Implications for further research are discussed.

This paper examines the role of some basic variables that may be critical in children with difficulties in expressive writing. Preliminary data demonstrating the role of a series of variables are presented. In particular, based on these data, a model was derived using structural equations showing how orthography, neuropsychological functions (idea generation and planning), and revision affect the performance of tasks requiring children to describe the content of pictures. These variables appeared to significantly discriminate between children with good and poor expressive writing skills.

Children's failure to develop proficiency in reading and writing continues to challenge educationalists, parents and carers. In this chapter we argue that the concept of dyslexia as an explanation for failure or as a starting point for intervention is fatally flawed. Our argument is that the concept is a socially constructed category with no scientific basis. Hence quasi-medical differential diagnosis is invalid and educationally divisive. We question this phenomenon that persists despite the protestations of Stanovich (1994, 2005) and others, through a brief survey of work in the fields of social categorisation, cognitive psychology and neuroscience. In summary our view is that whilst there are some ‘natural’ tendencies to categorise, with regard to literacy there is no identified objectively defined and unambiguous discontinuity between skilled and unskilled reader. There is, therefore, no support for the persistence of a distinctive category of dyslexia. Further, the notion of ‘dyslexia’ in itself does not support appropriate intervention.

This chapter describes a number of research experiences of the authors, directed to increasing our understanding of exceptional individuals, most typically those with learning or behavioral disabilities. A number of examples is presented, to demonstrate how a research emphasis on exceptional persons can help to advance our understanding of human learning and cognition, and how such findings can contribute to the development of an overall, adequate theory of learning and instruction. Several general points from these experiences are presented, generally that the study of human exceptionality (a) can help to clarify our understanding of what we learn, and why we should learn it, (b) can enhance our understanding of what is “possible,” (c) demonstrate that what we do is more important than who we are, (d) demonstrate that we learn best by doing, and that our experience informs our understanding, and (e) demonstrate that we are all exceptional cases.

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Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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