Use of Text Maps to Improve the Reading Comprehension Skills among Students in High School with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Article excerpt


The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of text mapping as a strategy for improving the reading comprehension skills, of four high school students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) in a self-contained freshman technical language arts classroom. Using a multiple baseline design across participants, each student received individualized training in the purpose, use, and completion of both the teacher and student-generated text maps. During the first intervention phase, students read a passage and completed a teacher-generated text map, whereas in the second intervention phase, the students created their own text maps for the passages. The study consisted of 20 text passages and was completed over a period of 28 days. Dependent measures included a 10- to 20-item production fill-in-the-blank comprehension test to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Results indicated that both the teacher and student-generated text maps were effective in improving comprehension scores for all four students with EBD. Limitations of the study; implications for secondary classroom teachers, both general and special education; and future research questions are discussed.

* In the education of students, from elementary school to high school, very few skills are equal in importance to the ability to read and comprehend what is read. This ability is one that is generalized from the reading lessons into every academic subject. Reading and understanding what is read is a foundational skill for academic success for all students, which is why this area in particular has received such a broad national legislative effort (e.g., the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002). Research shows that many students with emotional and/or behavioral disorders (EBD) often have reading skill deficits (Babyak, Koorland, & Mathes, 2000; Vaughn, Levy, Coleman, & Bos, 2002) and function 1 or more years below grade level in reading, math, writing, and spelling (Spencer, Scruggs, & Mastorpieri, 2003). Epstein, Kinder, & Barsuck (1989) reported that students with EBD have more difficulty in reading and mathematics instruction than other students of the same age, and these students were more likely to fail courses than were students without disabilities (Wagner, Blackorby & Hebbeler, 1993).

Unfortunately, the focus of attention on students with EBD has been on behavior management, with a minimal focus on reading, math, or content-based instruction (Levy & Chard, 2001). Coleman and Vaughn (2000) reported that only seven studies were identified that examined reading interventions and students with EBD, and only one of those compared the effects of several different instructional methods. Clearly, it is time to refocus our energies if we want to increase the reading skills of students with EBD.

Although research on reading skills among students with EBD is scant, other research has shown that students with various other disabilities often benefit from explicit strategy instruction and practice that promotes reading comprehension (for reviews, see Cersten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001; Mastropieri, Scruggs, Bakken, & Whedon, 1996; Talbott, Lloyd, & Tankersley, 1994). As part of the No Child Left Behind Act, six key comprehension strategies were recommended to address these deficits, including (a) monitoring comprehension, (b) using graphic and semantic organizers, (c) answering questions, (d) generating questions, (e) recognizing story structure (and other text structures), and (d) summarizing. For example, one reading comprehension strategy that has been conducted repeatedly in various types of classrooms, with various ages and many different ability levels, is the use of story mapping (which sometimes may be referred to as instruction on "story components," "story grammar elements," or "text mapping"). This is due to the fact that the story-mapping strategy incorporates all of No Child Left Behind's suggested comprehension strategies. …