Tag Archive for 'Literacy'

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Does RtI reduce numbers of children in special education?

In an article slated to appear in Remedial and Special Education, Jeanne Wanzek and Sharon Vaughn reported that widely popular three-tiered approach to addressing did not significantly reduce the number and percentage of students identified for special education across seven elementary schools. Their study, which is limited to the response to instruction or intervention in the primary and early elementary grades and focused primarily on academic intervention, revealed no significant reduction in identification of children as having Learning Disabilities, even though this group would be the most likely to benefit from such prevention efforts. Similarly, there were no differences in the proportion of students identified for special education according to ethnic background.
Continue reading ‘Does RtI reduce numbers of children in special education?’

Letter-sound correspondences: New scanning data

A research team in Professor Leo Blomert’s lab at Maastricht University in the Netherlands reported that brain scans of children with and without dyslexia reveal differences when associating letters with sounds. Vera Blau and colleagues studied 34 9-½-year-old children, 18 of whom were identified as having dyslexia. While the children completed tasks under four different conditions (letters presented only visually; speech sounds presented alone; multi-sensory matching letter–sound pairs; and multi-sensory not-matching letter–sound pairs), the researchers obtained scans of brain activity. They found that in the brains of children with dyslexia there were weaker effects when letters and sounds matched than in the brains of children without dyslexia; these effects appeared most clearly in certain areas of the brain related to language function. In addition, the dyslexic readers’ brains showed weaker activation when speech sounds were the only stimulus (i.e., without accompanying letters).
Continue reading ‘Letter-sound correspondences: New scanning data’

Remediation changes brain structures

Writing in the journal Neuron, Timothy Keller and Marcel Just reported that they have found changes in children’s neural anatomy that appear to be a consequence of improved reading performance. Whereas previous studies, many of which I’ve mentioned in these posts, have shown changes in the blood flow in children’s brains as a consequence of reading instruction, the findings from Keller and Marcel showed that there are changes in the physical tissue in the brain following remedial reading instruction.

Continue reading ‘Remediation changes brain structures’

JLD on professional development


JLD cover

The Journal of Learning Disabilities for September-October 2009 features a special series of articles about the teaching of reading teaching. Issue editors R. Malatesha Joshi and Anne E. Cunningham put together a set of articles by stellar authorities in the area of reading to examine “Perceptions and Reality: What We Know About the Quality of Literacy Instruction.”

Moats, L. (2009). Still wanted: Teachers with knowledge of language. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 387-391.

Joshi, R. M., Binks, E., Hougen, M., Dahlgren M. E., Ocker-Dean, E., & Smith, D. L. (2009). Why elementary teachers might be inadequately prepared to teach reading. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 392-402.[Link]

Podhajski, B., Mather, N., Nathan, J., & Sammons, J. (2009). Professional development in scientifically based reading instruction: Teacher knowledge and reading outcomes Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 403-417. [Link]

Cunningham, A. E., Zibulsky, J., Stanovich, K. E., & Stanovich, P. J. (2009). How teachers would spend their time teaching language arts: The mismatch between self-reported and best practices. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 418-430. [Link]

Spear-Swerling, L. (2009). A literacy tutoring experience for prospective special educators and struggling second graders. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 431-443. [Link]

Kaiser, L., Rosenfield, S., & Gravois, T. (2009). Teachers’ perception of satisfaction, skill development, and skill application after instructional consultation services. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 444-457.[Link]

Joshi, R. M., Binks, E., Graham, L., Ocker-Dean, E., Smith, D. L., & Boulware-Gooden, R. (2009). Do textbooks used in university reading education courses conform to the instructional recommendations of the National Reading Panel? Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 458-463. [Link]

Stotsky, S. (2009). Licensure tests for special education teachers: How well they assess knowledge of reading instruction and mathematics. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 464-474. [Link]

Lyon, G. R., & Weiser, B. (2009). Teacher knowledge, instructional expertise, and the development of reading proficiency. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 475-480.[Link]

Phonological core in dyslexia

In Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, Michelle Kibby published the results of a study examining the relationships among measures of short-term memory and dyslexia. In two studies involving children ages 9-13 with and without dyslexia (defined on the basis of discrepancy; > 1 SD difference between IQ and word identification) she found results that are consistent with the theory that the primary problem for children with reading problems is in phonological processing.

The goals of this project were threefold: to determine the nature of the memory deficit in children/adolescents with dyslexia, to utilize clinical memory measures in this endeavor, and to determine the extent to which semantic short-term memory (STM) is related to basic reading performance. Continue reading ‘Phonological core in dyslexia’

Dyslexia in Science

Professor John Gabrieli of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a paper in the current issue of Science discussing dyslexia. Here’s the abstract.

Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2009). Dyslexia: A new synergy between education and cognitive neuroscience. Science, 325, 280 – 283

Reading is essential in modern societies, but many children have dyslexia, a difficulty in learning to read. Dyslexia often arises from impaired phonological awareness, the auditory analysis of spoken language that relates the sounds of language to print. Behavioral remediation, especially at a young age, is effective for many, but not all, children. Neuroimaging in children with dyslexia has revealed reduced engagement of the left temporo-parietal cortex for phonological processing of print, altered white-matter connectivity, and functional plasticity associated with effective intervention. Behavioral and brain measures identify infants and young children at risk for dyslexia, and preventive intervention is often effective. A combination of evidence-based teaching practices and cognitive neuroscience measures could prevent dyslexia from occurring in the majority of children who would otherwise develop dyslexia.

Link to the article

Preschool attention predicts early literacy skills

Christie Walcott and colleagues reported that children whom preschool teachers rated as having attention problems had lower scores later on phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, and rapid naming. Here’s the abstract.

Objective: The link between significant attention problems and reading difficulties among school-age children is clear, but few have examined the impact of early inattention on preliteracy development. This longitudinal study examines this link. Method: A total of 47 children had repeated measures of teacher-rated attention problems and three key preliteracy skills (phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, and rapid naming) in both preschool and kindergarten. Results: Teacher-reported attention problems in preschool significantly and negatively predicted both phonemic awareness and letter naming scores 1 year later, even after controlling for initial language ability and preschool performance on these tasks. Levels of preschool inattention did not significantly predict rapid automatic naming 1 year later. Likewise, preschool preliteracy scores did not predict attention problems in kindergarten. Conclusion: Early attention problems may interfere with the acquisition of certain preliteracy skills. Implications of these findings and directions for future research are presented.

Walcott, C. M., Scheemaker, A., & Bielski, K. (2009). Research brief: A longitudinal investigation of inattention and preliteracy development. Journal of Attention Disorders, 13, [online first, so no page numbers yet]. doi:10.1177/1087054709333330

NJCLD on adolescent literacy

The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) held a symposium regarding the release of “Adolescent Literacy and Students with Learning Disabilities: Building Effective Programs and Partnerships Adolescent.” Invited guests representing various US agencies, organizations, and interest groups joined delegates from the organizations that are members of NJCLD the afternoon of Friday 5 June 2009 for the session.

Mary Beth Klotz, chair of the NJCLD, introduced the session and individual speakers. Froma Roth, a representative of the American Speach-Language-Hearing Association and one of the writing team that prepared the statement, began the session with a brief recapitulation of its contents. Brett Miller followed Professor Roth with an overview of current research supported by the Reading, Writing, and Related Learning Disabilities of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, US Department of Health and Human Services. Nancy Hennesy, of the Council for Learning Disabilities and also a member of the writing group, described the complex and challenging context for addressing deficits in adolescent literacy.

These are the folks who participated in the panel:

  • Mary Beth Klotz (National Association of School Psychologists);
  • Nancy Hennessy (International Dyslexia Association) ;
  • Amanda Karhuse (National Association of Secondary School Principals);
  • Brett Miller (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development);
  • Barbara J. Moore (Anaheim Union High School District, CA);
  • Patti Ralabate (National Education Association);
  • Froma P. Roth (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association); and
  • Kippi Sutphen (Parent Representative).

Link to the NJCLD Web site (maintained by LD Online). Watch for the slides and other materials from the symposium to be posted there. Meanwhile, download a copy of the NJCLD document.

Vaughn on struggling adolescent readers

Sharon Vaughn, a professor at the University of Texas who studies reading problems and instruction, is slated to present a free, telephone-mediated session on reading for adolescents with reading problems. The dial-in conference is sponsored by the Institute for Literacy and Learning, and it occurs 19 August 2008. The slides for the presentation are already available.

The Institute for Literacy and Learning hosts a series of these events. Recently, Randy Sprick presented a session on discipline. Shari, Randy, and the other presenters in the series of sessions are for-real experts, so these are pretty valuable opportunities. Take advantage of them!

Link to the Institute for Literacy and Learning Web site and for the download of the slides. For those with an interest in the topic of adolescent literacy, note that the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities has published a paper on this topic.

Literacy donations

I’ve known about the Literacy Site for a long time, but never thought to link to it from LD Blog until yesterday. If you’ve been around the Internet since it’s first 5 years or so, you probably remember the sound that echoed when the Hunger Site went live. I can remember the desk and the old Mac that I was using when a friend first pointed me to it.

The Literacy Site does for books what the Hunger Site does for food: It uses sponsor-donated revenue to fund purchase and distribution of books. Once a day, users can register their presence by clicking a link on the site, and sponsors (e.g., Phi Beta Kappa) donate.

It seems like an appropriate feature for LD Blog. In fact, I might put an always-present link a sidebar for this one. In the meantime, here’s a link.