Know What You Are Targeting

January 29, 2016

As the landscape of struggling children gets more and more complicated, with parents confused to know where to turn or what to do next, I do my best to simplify things. One area to simplify is the reading remediation your child is receiving.

Presuming you have had your child assessed (whether in school by the special education team or on the outside by a professional who does this type of testing), if you are not clear on the target of the remediation to follow, I encourage you to ask what should be the emphasis of the instruction.

After all of these years of conducting assessments and reading the literature (when I can), I still see two fundamental reading problems.

The first I call, “Type I.”

Type I readers are the ones that make up 80% of the referrals for special education. These kids struggle with internalizing adequate decoding skills. Their oral reading fluency is problematic beyond the level of words that they have memorized. Spelling and writing (open-ended writing) are always an issue. Most of their “comprehension” problems come from the word substitutions (e.g., “pricapinny” for “porcupine”) and the strained style of reading which creates a great deal of interference. The vast majority of kids of the Type I variety, especially those that are more moderate and severe on the continuum fit the definition of “dyslexia.”

Type II children are very different. These kids read fluently, but have difficulty understanding what they read. This group is a much smaller percentage, but they exist.

If you are seeking remediation (tutoring), get clear on what you are targeting; don’t scattershot the remediation. If the teacher doing the tutoring says something like, “I do a little of this and a little of that,” that should raise some red flags of concern.

Good testing should help you get clear on what you need to have emphasized. (In many ways, that is the central point of doing the testing in the first place.)
Be laser-focused in your approach so you can hit the right target.

(Adapted “School Struggles,” (2012), Richard Selznick, Ph.D., Sentient Publications)

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All comments (4)
  • Amy Leitner
    January 30, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    This is a perfect "Down to Earth" description of reading struggles. It can be their ability, or disability, to actually read the words or […] Read MoreThis is a perfect "Down to Earth" description of reading struggles. It can be their ability, or disability, to actually read the words or their understand what they are reading. Two very different problems. Some children have both so have to be targeted separately. In order to discover their comprehension, you can have them listen to the stories at their age appropriate level and see if they understand that. Comprehension can even be tested from a TV show. Understanding what you read and reading (decoding) are almost like two different subjects and skills should be taught separately as skills but together as content. Thanks so much, Dr. Selz! Read Less

    Reply
  • Crystal Abler
    March 09, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Our son is in 4th grade and having problems in Language, Math and Social Studies. He gets most D's and F's on his school papers. […] Read MoreOur son is in 4th grade and having problems in Language, Math and Social Studies. He gets most D's and F's on his school papers. We sit and work with him when he brings homework home, he has a hard time remebering what he is learning. I feel he is a shut down learner, the school keeps brushing it off. This has been going on since beginning of the year and have have four meetings with the teacher and principal. I have talked to another parent who's child was having learning difficulties and she pulled him out of he school an told them she wanted an IEP. He is doing better now. Can some please direct what I need to do to help my son? Read Less

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