What characteristics might Mrs. Nash look for in a reading approach?
Page 2: The Benefits of PALS
Like most teachers, Mrs. Nash has a class of students with diverse learning needs. Because of this, she was excited to discover that PALS is effective for students with learning disabilities, low-performing students without learning disabilities, average-achieving readers, and English learners (ELs). In addition to improving the reading performance of students, PALS:
Allows all students—those with and without learning difficulties—to be actively involved in peer-mediated sessions
Makes it possible for students with disabilities to spend more time in the least-restrictive environment, thus increasing their access to the general education curriculum
Can be used as a research-validated reading approach in schools implementing response to intervention
Students with learning disabilities, low-achieving students, and average-achieving students in grades 2–6 who participated in PALS scored higher on a measure of reading skills than did members of the control group. (Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathes, & Simmons, 1997)
One study of English Learners in grades 3–6 indicated that students in the PALS condition performed better on several measures of reading ability than did students in the control group. (Saenz, Fuchs, & Fuchs, 2005)
Listen as Devin Kearns discusses the benefits of PALS for grades 2–6 (time: 1:02).
Devin Kearns, MA PALS trainer Vanderbilt University
I think that PALS has lots of benefits for grades 2–6. The key to PALS is that students first get a lot of time reading, and they get a lot of practice with important reading comprehension strategies, and those are the two main benefits. The third benefit of PALS is it’s a great program for teachers who have really diverse classrooms, because it allows them to help all their students at a variety of levels. So in a class that has kids who range from really super high and really needing a lot of reading help, she doesn’t always, or he doesn’t always have time to help all those kids, and PALS allows that teacher to have the kids work in pairs, and they can support each other. PALS really helps teachers when there’s a great diversity of kids in the classroom. So we’ve found that teachers are really happy with it because they find they’re able to help their kids a lot better, because they can actually focus on the lowest kids.
Besides accommodating the needs of students of various academic abilities and actively including all students in reading activities, PALS boasts a number of additional benefits for teachers and students. Specifically, the approach:
Is easily implemented
Accelerates student achievement in reading
Encourages on-task behavior and student participation
Allows students more opportunities to read
Allows opportunities for students to receive corrective feedback
Is enjoyable for students
Promotes collaboration and positive social interactions among students
Devin Kearns explains why PALS is beneficial for English learners (ELs). Next, Patti Kremer discusses her experience using PALS with ELs.
Devin Kearns, MA PALS trainer Vanderbilt University
For students who are English learners, the evidence is actually really exciting because PALS has actually been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a practice that works for English learners. We do the study partly in a part of Texas that is very close to Mexico. Almost all of the students there are English learners, and we found that the program was actually very effective for them because they use the English that they have to build their responses to the questions, so the teachers explain these prompts to them—for example during paragraphing shrinking the students have to say…name the “who or what,” tell the most important thing about the “who or what,” and then say the main idea in ten words or less. Another reason that PALS works really well for English learners is that it gives them a lot of opportunity to practice so that, unlike in a whole class lesson where the teacher is only giving the students an opportunity to respond every couple of minutes, students are constantly getting the opportunity to practice their English. In addition to that, they are working with someone who has more advanced English skills or maybe someone who isn’t an English learner, and getting that fluent model of English from someone who is higher in ability is also really great for those students.
Transcript: Patti Kremer
My ELL kids benefited because they could hear how the words were said if they were paired with an English speaking partner. It also helped with the socializing, and I saw some real beautiful interchanges. They were following the protocol so well. It was just wonderful. It was like they wanted a predictable procedure to follow. And they used it very well. They felt real confident and I think had a new command over some phrases to use when working with somebody.
For Your Information
Because PALS is easy for teachers to use and improves students’ reading skills, the U.S. Department of Education Program Effectiveness Panel has deemed it a “best practice.”
A distinction granted by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), a research division within the U.S. Department of Education, and similar organizations to teaching practices that research has proven to be effective.