Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Reading Tutoring for Students at Academic and Behavioral Risk: Effects on Time-on-Task in the Classroom

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Reading Tutoring for Students at Academic and Behavioral Risk: Effects on Time-on-Task in the Classroom

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined the effects of individual reading tutoring on the time-on-task and student-teacher interactions of students displaying early signs of academic and behavior problems. Participants were 17 students in Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 who were rated by classroom teachers as below average in academic skills and above average in aggressive-disruptive behavior. Ten of these students were randomly selected to receive individual tutoring from paraprofessionals. Classroom observations indicated that tutoring had generally positive effects on time-on-task in the classroom but no clear effects on patterns of teacher attention. Among tutored students, increases in time-on-task were largest among children whose reading skill gains were largest. Results suggest that for students with the dual risks of reading and behavior problems, individual reading tutoring may enhance reading skills and lead to meaningful increases in engagement in classroom learning tasks. Key Words: Reading Tutoring, Time-On-Task, Behavior Problems

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Behavior problems and poor academic skills in early elementary school are well-documented risk factors for a variety of adjustment problems. Behavior problems frequently have their origins in family interactions in the preschool years, are manifest in the early school years in the form of disruptive behavior and interpersonal conflict, and are associated with more serious forms of antisocial behavior, substance use and school dropout as children move into adolescence (CPPRG, 1992; Kamps & Tankersley, 1996; McEvoy & Welker, 2000; Reid, 1993; Sprague & Walker, 2000). Poor academic skills have their origins in low rates of adult-child language interactions and little exposure to print in early childhood (Adams, 1990), are manifest in the early school years in the form of persistent reading problems (Juel, 1988), and are associated with broad-based achievement problems and eventual school dropout in adolescence (Ensminger & Slusarcick, 1992). Developmental outcomes are worst when behavior and academic problems co-occur. For example, adolescents with the most serious and persistent forms of antisocial behavior are more likely to have displayed a "dual-risk" profile of early behavioral and academic problems (Maguin & Loeber, 1996) and 1st Grade aggression and reading skills each add uniquely to the prediction of high school dropout (Ensminger & Slusarcick, 1992). These findings justify preventive interventions aimed at deflecting the developmental trajectories of dual-risk students in a more positive direction (Kauffman, 1999).

Interventions to prevent serious antisocial behavior typically include efforts to improve children's social skills and enhance adults' socialization skills, but there is widespread recognition that direct attention to children's academic skill development can also be important (Kamps & Tankersely, 1996; Sprague & Walker, 2000). Some multi-modal intervention programs already include components targeting academic skills (e.g., CPPRG, 1992), but such programs could be enhanced through a better understanding of how early academic and behavioral functioning are linked (McEvoy & Welker, 2000). One way to build such understanding is to test whether interventions targeting risk in one domain also reduce risk in the other (Hinshaw, 1992b).

Accordingly, this study will test whether an intervention designed to raise the reading skills of dual-risk students has a positive impact on academic engagement and classroom interactions. Specifically, does individual reading tutoring for dual-risk students increase time-on-task in the classroom and rates of positive interactions with teachers? This question was motivated by the evidence for the effectiveness of individual reading tutoring and by research implicating time-on-task and teacher attention as processes relevant to both behavioral and academic functioning. …

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