As the middle of the school year fast approaches, the third-grade demands for independent reading have increased. Mr. Hess, a third-grade teacher at Rosa Parks Elementary, has become more concerned about the lack of reading progress in one of his students. Having tried everything he can think of to help this student, Mr. Hess decides to go to his school’s Support Team, or S-Team, to get some assistance. At a weekly S-Team meeting, Mr. Hess tells the team that the student’s cumulative records indicate that his reading skills have always lagged behind those of his classmates. Because third-grade textbooks are more difficult, he’s struggling to keep up in content areas like social studies and science, and his grades have fallen drastically.
Mrs. Hernandez, an experienced first-grade teacher and lead member of the S-Team, says they see this problem all the time. In fact, she believes that too many first graders struggle with reading, and she wonders how many students there are who end up like Mr. Hess’s third grader, who is now failing because he can’t read well enough. She’s confident that what’s needed is a new approach. Ms. Jacobs, the lead special education teacher, says that most of these struggling readers do not require special education services, but they do need some sort of additional intervention to give their skills a “boost.” Ms. Jacobs stresses that many students who have trouble with reading in the early grades continue to have problems throughout school. She adds her own frustration that the small percentage of students who truly do need special education services are usually not identified until third or fourth grade because their skills must fall significantly behind in order to qualify.
The S-Team members agree that they have seen these two problems over and over again. They decide they need to find a better way to get extra help to their struggling readers. In addition, there must be a better and faster way of getting special education services to students who need them than simply waiting for children’s skills to fall so far behind that the kids are actually failing.
Here’s your Challenge:
What procedures do you think Rosa Parks Elementary is using to provide services to struggling students? Why are school personnel dissatisfied with this process?
What approaches are available to schools to help struggling readers and to efficiently identify students who need special education services?
What other information might a school find helpful when choosing which approach to adopt?
What steps might the S-Team propose to help its struggling readers?