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We could teach vulnerable children to read. Richard L Allington, PhD University of Tennessee.

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Presentation on theme: "We could teach vulnerable children to read. Richard L Allington, PhD University of Tennessee."— Presentation transcript:

1 We could teach vulnerable children to read. Richard L Allington, PhD University of Tennessee

2 Classroom lessons matter… Much evidence indicates that some teachers literally teach every child to read while others are far less successful. Stuhlman & Pianta (2009) report that approximately 20% of 1 st grade teachers offer high-quality reading lessons and 20% offer very low quality lessons.

3 Effective teachers… Sanders (1994) found that 3 consecutive years with effective teachers resulted in reading achievement 50 percentile ranks higher than 3 years with less effective teachers. Effective teachers = 80%ile Less effective teachers= 30%ile

4 Effective teachers or effective schools? Gates (2011) notes that the difference between the most and least effective teachers in a building are twice as large the the difference between the most and least effective schools in the nation. He suggests parents search for effective teachers rather than effective schools.

5 Schools differ… Vellutino, Scanlon, et al (2007) found… In 4 elementary schools 100% of vulnerable readers were reading on or above grade level at the end of 3 rd grade. In 4 schools fewer than 60% of the vulnerable readers were reading grade level at the end of 3 rd grade.

6 Schools matter… Not clear from the study just what teachers do differently in the 4 more successful schools, because classroom instruction was not observed. But which schools these at-risk kids attended mattered in asking how many kids could be reading on grade level. The 4 schools suggest that the answer is all kids could be reading on grade level.

7 Instructional coherence…. "Thus, addressing instructional problems at the classroom level is critically important and would be a vital component of any preventive model…High-quality supplemental instruction should not be a substitute for high-quality classroom instruction and one should complement the other." (Scanlon, et al, p. 211- 212)

8 Coherence or Fragmentation? However, in the majority of schools “planned fragmentation” is the model in place Not a coherent and rich reading plan. So vulnerable children have to learn to deal with incoherent curriculum.

9 Teacher expertise (or not)… The key to effective classroom reading lessons is teacher expertise. Expertise in: ◦Classroom management ◦Effective literacy instruction ◦Managing literate conversations

10 Teachers matter… Scanlon, et al (2010) and McGill-Franzen, et al (1999;2010) both report 30-60 hours of professional development is powerful in changing reading lessons and reading outcomes. Scanlon, et al found PD more effective than expert 1 to 1 tutoring at addressing the needs of struggling readers. McGill-Franzen found PD developed K teachers who brought students to grade level reading skills in high-poverty schools.

11 Improving early literacy lessons… Improving the quality of early literacy instruction is the best way to improve student outcomes. Developing the expertise of every teacher is the best way to improve early literacy instruction.

12 Is PD your school’s intervention? Developing teacher expertise seems to be the only proven strategy for teaching all vulnerable children to read. Few schools have adopted massive and rich professional development for staff as their intervention design.

13 We can do better… Access to high-quality early literacy lessons is critical to school and life success. Four years of struggling damns a child to a lifetime of struggles.

14 Annie Casey Foundation… 90% of children reading on grade level by the end of 3 rd grade graduate high school on time. This regardless of the SES, neighborhood, or parents of the child. Children from low-income families who are not reading on grade level by the end of 3 rd grade are 13 times as likely to drop out as those children who do read on grade level.

15 Four long years… Schools have, then, 4 years (K-3) to teach all children to read proficiently. 4 years is actually a lot of time, same number of years needed to graduate high school or college. What do schools need to do then?

16 Extensive, intensive and expert… Schools need to begin attributing difficulties with learning to read to the school’s failure to provide extensive, intensive, and expert reading instruction. Not all children find learning to read an easy task and it is these children who need the extensive, intensive, and expert reading instruction.

17 Limited opportunities… “There is now considerable evidence, from recent intervention studies, that reading difficulties in most beginning readers are not caused by biologically based cognitive deficits intrinsic to the child, but may in fact be related to the opportunities provided for children learning to read.” p. 378 Vellutino, F. R., & Fletcher, J. M. (2005). Developmental dyslexia. In M. S. C. Hulme (Ed.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp 362-378). Malden, MA: Blackwell

18 Mythologies… No continued reliance on mythological causes of reading problems. By mythological I mean… ◦Learning disability ◦Attention deficit disorder ◦Dyslexia

19 The right to effective lessons… Vulnerable children have a right to experience the same higher quality reading lessons that achieving readers experience. All children have a right to effective reading lessons. Effective lessons from their classroom teachers.

20 The problem may be us… Our beliefs about vulnerable pupils may limit our efforts. We provide those kids with reading lessons very different from the reading lessons our kids get (e.g.,Valli & Chambliss, 2010).

21 What vulnerable children are more likely to get… More oral reading, less silent reading. More hard reading, less high-success reading. More low level questions, less literate conversation. More skills work, less reading activity. More worksheets, less reading activity. More testing, less reading activity.

22 Redesigning reading lessons… What kids do during reading lessons predicts what kids learn during reading lessons. Let’s try a simple but research-based design.

23 Every day every child… Will read texts they have selected. Will read texts accurately. Will read texts they understand. Will talk to peers about their reading. Will write text that is meaningful. Will listen to a fluent adult read aloud.

24 Where to find the time… Eliminate all those activities that research indicates are largely a waste of time. ◦Worksheets ◦Round robin interruptive oral reading ◦Low-level interrogations ◦Isolated skills lessons and skills tests ◦Fluency tests ◦Unit tests ◦Test prep

25 It’s not that we don’t have the money… In too many classrooms such activities make up the bulk of work done during the school day. Eliminating wasteful activities provides hours each day for productive activities. It also provides a source for funding what we need to change ($100,000-$250,000 every year).

26 It isn’t the kids that are the problem… It is the design of lessons where changes need to be made. It is teacher beliefs that need to change. It is the nature of the work that needs improvement. WE can make these changes, kids cannot.

27 It is up to you… Are you up to it? The students are waiting.


29 Access and choice…. Summer reading setback results from students spending the summer without the opportunity to read. It is easy access to books they can read and books that they want to read that is the key.

30 Our latest book…

31 Schools cannot ignore whether kids have books to read during the summers. Schools can and must provide access to books that kids want to read. Not difficult but someone has to take charge.

32 Summer reading… Distributing 15 books self-selected books every summer eliminated summer reading setback. Produced as much, or more, reading growth as attending summer school. At 1/100 th of the cost!

33 We could, but will we? If we provide struggling readers with a sufficient amount of effective reading lessons we can eliminate the rich/poor reading achievement gap. If we ensure all kids from low-income families have easy summer access to books they can read and want to read we can simplify closing the gap.

34 Worry about summers… Once we have the school day in order we can worry about how students spend their summers.

35 Don’t neglect the summer… 80% of the three-year reading achievement gap at 9 th grade comes from summer reading loss (Alexander, et al, 2009) Small annual losses accumulate over time. Giving vulnerable children books they can read and want to read was effective as summer school (and far less expensive).

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