Tag Archive for 'reading'

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Willingham making sense of brain research

In what will be his last guest column for the Washington Post education column, “The Answer Sheet,” cognitive psychologist Dan Willingham advises people to be skeptical about the poppycock that masquerades as scientific advice about brain-based education. Under the headline “Willingham: 3 brain facts every educator should know,” Professor Willingham explains clearly and with the force of evidence and plain, ordinary reason why “most of what you see advertised as educational advice rooted in neuroscience is bunkum.”

Professor Willingham contends that there are three facts educators should know.
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ADHD-RD connection confirmed and refined

Writing in Pediatrics, Professor Kouichi Yoshimasu and colleagues reported that the chances of children and youths having reading disabilities is significantly higher among those who have ADHD than it is among the general population of children and youths. Furthermore, although boys are significantly more likely than girls to manifest reading disabilities among the general population, among children and youths with ADHD the chances of reading disabilities are about equal. However, because girls are so much less likely to have reading problems than boys, girls’ risk is much higher in relation to their female peers’ risk.
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DLD fall conference is just around the corner

Check out the fine slate of workshop sessions available to registered guests at the annual “Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice” meeting of the Division for Learning Disabilities, which is to be held in Baltimore (MD, US) 29 and 30 October. Of course, I am biased, but I consider this one of the outstanding professional development opportunities of the year in learning disabilities, including the more specific disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and so forth (as well as related disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder).
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Word reading still predicts comprehension

Justin Wise and colleague examined the reading comprehension of students with differing problems in reading fluency. Some of the students only had difficulty with reading connected text fluently, but others had difficulty in reading connected text and individual words fluently. They found that for both groups the ability to read individual real words fluently was the strongest predictor of reading comprehension.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine whether different measures of oral reading fluency relate differentially to reading comprehension performance in two samples of second grade students: 1) students who evidenced difficulties with nonsense word oral reading fluency, real word oral reading fluency, and oral reading fluency of connected text (ORFD), and 2) students who only evidenced oral reading fluency of connected text difficulties (CTD).
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Chall grants 2010

Over on Spedpro I posted a notice about the opportunity to apply for a Jeanne S. Chall Research Grant. Applications are due by May 14, 2010.

More on IQ and reading disabilities

Deficits in reading performance may differ in etiology depending on the IQ of the individuals who have the deficits. According to an article in Behavior Genetics, Professor Sally Wadsworth and colleagues confirmed previous research showing that there is a stronger genetic element in the reading deficits of children with higher IQs (mean = 108.97 ± 6.71) than those with lower IQ (mean = 82.85 ± 6.40). The heritability for the former group is 0.75 ± 0.12, but for the latter it is 0.50 ± 0.10.
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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.
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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).
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Update: NJ gov. signs law creating dyslexia task force.

As reported earlier on LD Blog under the headline “New Jersey task force on reading disabilities created, seventh-grader Samantha Ravelli, of Ocean City (NJ, US), is having effects on public policy. The Associated Press reported 17 January 2010 that the law she lobbied her legislators to pass has been signed by the Governor of New Jersey.

Legislation inspired by an Ocean City girl who overcame severe dyslexia has been signed into law in New Jersey.
The measure creates a reading disabilities task force, which would help determine the best methods for diagnosing, treating and educating special needs students. The 13-member panel will include the state commissioners of education and human resources, four legislators and seven members of the public.

Now that this panel is law, let’s hope the folks who become members of the panel will take the sensible step of drawing from evidence-based practices in making recommendations for reading instruction in New Jersey. Read the Associated Press story, “ N.J. measure will benefit reading-disabled students.”

New Jersey task force on reading disabilities created

Seventh grader Samantha Ravelli, of Ocean City (NJ, US), is probably one of the youngest lobbyists who ever tasted success. According to Diane D’Amico of the Press of Atlantic City, Sammie (and her team, including her mother and sister) convinced their legislature to form the New Jersey Reading Disabilities Task Force.

Sammie has substantial reading problems, and her contacts with legislators inspired them to draft legislation creating the task force. Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matt Milam and state Senator Jeff Van Drew collaborated to get it passed. It cleared the assembly in February and the senate in December 2009.

As a part of their efforts to promote awareness of dyslexia and to encourage legislators to create the task force, the Ravellis created Sammie’s Mission. Visit it and also read Ms. D’Amico’s blog post How Sammies’s dyslexia inspired a law and her news story, State Senate approves bill to form reading disabilities task force, about the events. Finally, snag a pdf of “An Act establishing the New Jersey Reading Disabilities Task Force.”