It would not only be time consuming and expensive for each classroom teacher to develop an effective basic reading skills curriculum but such a curriculum is also fraught with a high degree of error. There is compelling evidence that supports the use of scripted programs rather than teacher-developed approaches to teach complex skills (Benner, 2005).
Second, apply positive behavioral supports to manage the behaviors of students with behavioral difficulties during reading instruction. Researchers have found that the problem behaviors of students with emotional disturbance are moderately to strongly relate to their responsiveness to reading intervention. Coercion theory offers an important rationale for the use of positive behavioral supports to improve responsiveness. Coercion theory asserts that many students with severe behavioral challenges have learned that arguing; escalation, confrontation, aggression, and noncompliance often lead to escape from undesirable tasks such as homework completion or from compliance with repeated requests to behave appropriately, for example. Escape/avoidance of undesirables becomes the function that drives many of the problem behaviors displayed by these students and their negative interactions with others (Benner, 2005).
Due to the severity and frequency of disruptive behaviors, a student may be allowed to escape or avoid many academic tasks over time while the achievement gap between them and their peers continues to broaden. Teachers should be careful not to allow students to escape/avoid academic tasks that they are capable of completing. Although allowing the student to escape from such tasks may provide teachers a temporary break from the problem behaviors of students such a response actually increases the likelihood that the student will engage in problem behaviors to escape undesirable tasks in the future (Benner, 2005).
Third, the reading skills of students with behavioral challenges will be increased by building automaticity in phonemic awareness, phonics, and reading fluency. In other words, educators should use instructional techniques that enhance students' ability to effortlessly complete foundational academic tasks without conscious thought to step-by-step process. Researchers have found that fluency, or automaticity, appears to be the most influential skill in the development of the academic functioning of students with behavioral challenges (Benner, 2005).
When foundational reading tasks become automatic the brain recognizes these simple and familiar tasks, processes the information, and automatically applies the correct rules to the procedure without immense cognitive effort. Because fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding the words, they can focus their attention on what the text means, whereas less fluent readers must focus their attention on figuring out the words, leaving them little attention for understanding the text. Researchers have found that building automaticity with reading tasks not only improves overall academic functioning, but also increases neurological activity in the area of the brain that deals with automatic retrieval of information (Benner, 2005).
Finally, use Curriculum-Based Measurement to monitor the automaticity of students. Based on over 30 years of scientific research, CBM was designed to assess and build academic fluency or automaticity. A typical CBM requires the student to complete brief, timed exercises using materials drawn directly from the child's academic program. Passage of recent legislation (e.g., Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004) highlights the need to assess educational need, write measurable goals, monitor progress, report progress to parents, and make revisions in the IEP to address any unexpected lack of progress. The use of ongoing progress monitoring may also be a powerful tool addressing the issue of responsiveness to intervention (RTI). CBM not only provides teachers and parents technically adequate assessment data, it also has produced significant results on the performance and motivation of students with behavioral difficulties (Benner, 2005).
As the learning characteristics of children with many types of learning disabilities have been examined, the understanding of how these children learn has lead to the development of more sophisticated instructional interventions. Researchers have observed that students with learning disabilities were, typically, unaware of the tricks of the trade and that proficient learners use problem solving strategies to organize their thoughts or plan an approach to solve complex problems. Building upon these and other studies, as well as on theoretical models, special education researchers have begun to develop and authenticate the use of explicit instructional approaches that teach such strategies to students with disabilities (Evidence Based Instruction, n.d.).
Other research has portrayed a major understanding problem of many students with disabilities and helped provide direction for instructional interventions. When asked to retell or summarize stories, many students with disabilities often added seemingly irrelevant elements. It was found that the elements were based upon their personal feelings and their experiences, rather than being derived from the text. These individual experiences and associations tended to override information presented in the book they were reading. An important objective of instruction is to show students how the academic material studied is related to their lives or the lives of others. When this instructional practice is utilized, retention of material is seen to go up (Evidence Based Instruction, n.d.).
Explicit teaching is an important technique in special education. It gives a clear framework for students with disabilities to use as they write or study or engage in group behaviors. These explicit structures offer a shared language that teachers and students can use as they take on in cognitive behaviors and as they work with one another. The final underlying principle is that by interest in a learning environment that is rich in clear, precise discussions of relationships, and full of a methodical use of relevant examples, students increasingly make connections on their own (Evidence Based Instruction, n.d.).
Special education resources for reading can include supplemental and complete instruction. Among the areas that should be addressed are phonemic awareness, phonics, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, intervention and comprehension. Any program used should be able to sustain students with a wide variety of reading problems. Continued assessment of the students is intended to address the current and long-term needs. Some students may be on target, while others may need more intensive training. Looking at data is also important in determining whether the program being used is the best for the students, as well as evaluating and addressing the needs of the general education staff for additional training and additional resources in the area of reading instruction. When looking for a special education assets for reading, it is important to understand that the end goal is to help a special education student who might be struggling in the area of reading attain greater success in the classroom. In the end this leads to greater success in life. It is not enough to just teach the brain what to learn, it has to be taught how to learn. The result is a mind that is strong, active, and able to keep up, not just for now, but for a lifetime. It is important to get to the root of learning and reading problems. One must work to strengthen weak cognitive skills so that students are able to learn and think effectively (Special Education Resources for Reading, n.d.).
Grouping practices for reading instruction have a critical role in facilitating effective accomplishment of both reading instruction and inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classes. Grouping has been referred to as one of the alterable instructional factors that can powerfully influence positively or negatively the levels of individual student engagement and hence academic progress, as well as a means by which we can address diversity in classrooms. As bigger numbers of students with learning disabilities (LD) are receiving education in the general education classroom, teachers will need to consider grouping practices that are effective for meeting these students' needs as well as all other. Reading instruction is the academic area of greatest need for students with LD. Grouping practices that enhance the reading acquisition skills of students with LD need to be identified and implemented. Until lately, most teachers used homogeneous groups for reading instruction. This existing practice was criticized based on several factors. The first was that of ability grouping which lowers self-esteem and reduces motivation among poor readers. It also restricts friendship choices, and widens the gap between poor readers and good readers. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of ability grouping was the finding that students who were the poorest readers received reading instruction that was below that of higher ability counterparts in terms of instructional time; time reading, discussing, and comprehending text and appropriateness of reading materials. As a result, varied grouping practices now prevail, and substitute grouping practices such as cooperative learning and peer tutoring have been developed. As general education classrooms become more mixed, due in part to the integration of students with LD, both special and general education teachers need to have a variety of instructional techniques designed to meet the individual needs of their students (Special Education Resources for Reading, n.d.).
Scientifically-based reading research has demonstrated that children must learn phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and vocabulary and text comprehension in order to read well (Best Practices in Special Education, n.d.). In a…