Practical, effective, evidence-based reading interventions thatchange students' lives
Essentials of Understanding and Assessing ReadingDifficulties is a practical, accessible, in-depth guide toreading assessment and intervention. It provides a detaileddiscussion of the nature and causes of reading difficulties, whichwill help develop the knowledge and confidence needed to accuratelyassess why a student is struggling. Readers will learn aframework for organizing testing results from current assessmentbatteries such as the WJ-IV, KTEA-3, and CTOPP-2. Case studiesillustrate each of the concepts covered. A thorough discussion isprovided on the assessment of phonics skills, phonologicalawareness, word recognition, reading fluency, and readingcomprehension. Formatted for easy reading as well as quickreference, the text includes bullet points, icons, callout boxes,and other design elements to call attention to importantinformation.
Although a substantial amount of research has shown that mostreading difficulties can be prevented or corrected, standardreading remediation efforts have proven largely ineffective. Schoolpsychologists are routinely called upon to evaluate students withreading difficulties and to make recommendations to address suchdifficulties. This book provides an overview of the best assessmentand intervention techniques, backed by the most current researchfindings.
* Bridge the gap between research and practice
* Accurately assess the reason(s) why a student strugglesin reading
* Improve reading skills using the most highly effectiveevidence-based techniques
Reading may well be the most important thing students are taughtduring their school careers. It is a skill they will use every dayof their lives; one that will dictate, in part, later life success.Struggling students need help now, and Essentials ofUnderstanding and Assessing Reading Difficulties shows how toget these students on track.
DAVID A. KILPATRICK, PHD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York College at Cortland and a New York State Certified School Psychologist with the East Syracuse-Minoa Central School District. An expert and experienced clinician who excels in reading assessment and intervention, Dr. Kilpatrick has conducted over 1000 student evaluations for reading difficulties and disabilities.
The Unfair Race
Picture yourself attending a high school track meet. The athletes are lining up for the 1,600-meter race, which requires four laps around the track. There are six lanes on the track, and you notice that in one lane is a set of high hurdles and in another lane is a set of low hurdles. The other four lanes have no hurdles. When the gun sounds, the runners in the two lanes with the hurdles are soon behind the other runners and continue to get farther behind as the race progresses. The runner in the lane with the high hurdles is the farthest behind. As the race goes on, the gap widens. There is almost no likelihood that either of these runners will catch up with the others. The whole event seems surreal and quite unfair-even painful to watch.
This scenario has close parallels to the development of reading skills among our K-12 students. The top two-thirds of students, as represented by the four lanes without hurdles, take off down the track and have nothing hindering them from running. The bottom third has differing degrees of hindrance based upon how high their hurdles are. Just as one-third of the runners had hurdles, the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicates that each year, about 30% to 34% of fourth graders in the United States read below a basic level.
This volume is not about helping children become more efficient hurdlers. It is about removing the hurdles from the track.
Efforts to help these weaker readers have been geared toward teaching them how to jump more efficiently over their hurdles. This volume is not about helping children become better and more efficient hurdlers. It is about removing the hurdles from the track before the race even starts. It is also about removing hurdles still ahead of the runners once the race has begun.
The goal of this book is to open up the vast and extensive world of empirical research into reading acquisition and reading disabilities in order to capitalize on the most useful findings for assessing reading difficulties and for designing highly effective interventions.
The goal of this book is to open up the vast and extensive world of empirical research into reading acquisition and reading disabilities. Surprisingly, this large and heavily grant-funded scientific endeavor has not had sufficient impact on the fields of general education, literacy education, special education, and school psychology (see more on this later in the chapter). Yet school psychologists, literacy specialists, and special educators play a large role in evaluating children with reading difficulties. They are called upon to make recommendations about how to best address the learning needs of poor readers. This volume will provide educational professionals with the tools and knowledge they need to pinpoint the reasons why a given student is struggling in reading. It will also provide recommendations that result in highly successful interventions.
The Importance of Reading
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of reading for success in school and in life. Reading is essential for all academic subjects. Science and social studies require textbook reading. Many math tests, including state-level assessments, require students to read word problems. Poor reading virtually guarantees poor writing skills. Art, music, health, and physical education classes sometimes require background reading and written projects. As a result, reading affects a student's entire academic experience. How well children succeed in school affects their future endeavors in life (Miller, McCardle, & Hernandez, 2010). While we all know of cases to the contrary, it is normally the students who do well in school who are more likely to go to college and have greater career opportunities.
Poor reading can also affect school behavior (McGee, Prior, Williams, Smart, & Sanson, 2002; Morgan, Farkas, Tufis, & Sperling, 2008; Tomblin, Zhang, Buckwalter, & Catts, 2000; Willcutt et al., 2007). Many children who are poor readers display behavior problems. There appears to be a two-way relationship between poor reading and at least some of the behavior problems we see in schools (Morgan et al., 2008). Significant reading difficulties appear to put students in later elementary school at a higher risk for depression (Maughan, Rowe, Loeber, & Stouthamer-Loeber, 2003). Students who are poor readers in third grade are 4 times more likely to become high school dropouts compared to skilled readers (Hernandez, 2012). At a 30-year follow-up of over 1,300 adults who had been diagnosed with a reading disability at age 7, McLaughlin and colleagues found that these adults were less likely to have obtained post-high school degrees and were more likely to attain lower levels of income than those who were average or better readers at age 7 (McLaughlin, Speirs, & Shenassa, 2014).
School districts are fully aware of the impact reading has on students. Millions of dollars are spent every year on general educational and special educational reading remediation. Despite this, poor readers generally remain poor readers (Jacobson, 1999; Maughan, Hagell, Rutter, & Yule, 1994; Morgan et al., 2008; Protopapas, Sideridis, Mouzaki, & Simos, 2011; Short, Feagans, McKinney, & Appelbaum, 1986; Sparks, Patton, & Murdoch, 2014). Studies of both general and special educational remedial reading indicate that these efforts have not been effective at normalizing reading performance (Bentum & Aaron, 2003; Jacobson, 1999; Moody, Vaughn, Hughes, & Fischer, 2000; Rashotte, McPhee, & Torgesen, 2001; Swanson & Vaughn, 2010; Torgesen, Rashotte, Alexander, Alexander, & MacPhee, 2003).
It would be easy to conclude from this that there is a substantial portion of students, perhaps due to neurodevelopmentally based reading disabilities, who are simply unable to develop normal reading skills, regardless of the nature of the remediation. However, there is ample empirical evidence to challenge such an assumption. For example, in a large study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD), researchers were able to reduce the number of children who require ongoing general or special educational remediation from the national average of about 30% down to 3% (Vellutino et al., 1996). In another NICHD-funded study, researchers showed that a large percentage of third through fifth graders with severe reading disabilities could reach an average reading level, and stay there (Torgesen et al., 2001). In fact, it has been shown in multiple empirical studies that a large proportion of students at risk for reading difficulties, as well as students with severe reading disabilities, can develop and maintain normalized reading skills when provided with the right kind of intervention (Alexander, Andersen, Heilman, Voeller, & Torgesen, 1991; Lennon & Slesinski, 1999; Rashotte et al., 2001; Shapiro & Solity, 2008; Simos et al., 2002; Torgesen, 2004a; Torgesen et al., 2001 2003; Torgesen, Wagner, Rashotte, Herron, & Lindamood, 2010; Truch, 1994, 2003, 2004; Vellutino et al., 1996).
If this is the case, why are we not capitalizing on these findings?
The Gap Between Reading Research and Classroom Practice
There are several reasons why our K-12 schools are not making use of the kinds of encouraging findings described above. In what follows, some of the most important ones are presented.
An Illustration of the Gap Between Research and Practice
Since the release of the Report of the National Reading Panel in 2000, phonological awareness has gained popularity in the literacy-teaching repertoire of early elementary school teachers. Phonological awareness refers to an awareness of the sound structure (syllables, phonemes) of spoken language. There has been an explosion of materials, programs, and opportunities available regarding phonological awareness. One might even consider phonological awareness to be an educational fad. Consider the following quote by Nancy Lewkowicz in the Journal of Educational Psychology:
The ability to perceive a spoken word as a sequence of individual sounds, which has been referred to recently as phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, and auditory analysis skill, is attracting increasing attention among reading researchers. The high correlation between this ability and success in reading is by now well established. (p. 686)
This quote appears to support the emerging interest in phonological awareness in recent years. In reality, this quote does no such thing-the quote is from 1980! It seems there was a lag time of about 20 years from when the scientific findings regarding phonological awareness became "well established" and when it became popular in schools. Actually, phonological awareness training was popular in the 1970s and early 1980s, but ironically it began to decline not long after Lewkowicz's comment just quoted. It fell out of use, apparently as a result of changes in reading philosophies in the 1980s and 1990s, even though researchers continued to study the role of phonological awareness in reading. This example serves to illustrate just how large the gap between research and practice can be. It was well established by 1980 that phonemic awareness was an essential element for successful reading, but there were nearly two decades in which it was not being incorporated into literacy instruction.
The Unfortunate Reality About Reading Research: Nobody Knows About...