Old School Concept: Know the Stages of Reading Development

November 12, 2015

There are three “old school” concepts in education and psychology that I think still apply, which I hope to discuss over the next few weeks. Probably a day does not go by in my professional practice where I am applying these concepts with the kids I have been asked to consult and evaluate. Sadly, these concepts have fallen into the dustbin of educational practice and seem to be largely forgotten. While RTI and Common Core are front and center, perhaps these forgotten concepts need revisiting.

The first of the old school concepts is The Stages of Reading Development, which comes to us from the late, great researcher, Dr. Jeanne Chall. Chall’s research taught us that all children pass through expected stages of reading development, but some children get stuck in a stage and their progress is delayed.

Young children with a learning disability such as dyslexia, for example, often have difficulty moving out of the first stage, which typically corresponds to the reading skills of a first grader.

I see this all the time with the kids I consult with and evaluate. Take James a nine year old fourth grader. On an informal reading inventory James was barely adequate on a first grade passage on an informal inventory. Total frustration was met at the second grade level. In short, even though James was in fourth grade, he was still in the first stage of reading development.

There are essentially five stages of reading development. Knowing exactly what stage of development is in provides you with a road map for what you need to do next with your child. Armed with the information as to what stage of development your child is in you are in a better position to know what the goals are moving forward.

(In later blogs I will elaborate on all of the stages.)

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

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