Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Impact of Motivation to Read on Reading Gains for Struggling Readers with and without Learning Disabilities

Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Impact of Motivation to Read on Reading Gains for Struggling Readers with and without Learning Disabilities

Article excerpt


This study was an investigation of the impact of motivation to read on reading gains of struggling readers with and without specific learning disabilities (LD) who were exposed to a structured, research- based daily reading program over an 18-week period. Participants included 13 students with LD and 25 students without disabilities from two middle schools and one high school in a U.S. Midwestern state. In this study, motivation to read was assessed by the Adolescent Motivation to Read Survey, and reading achievement was measured by the Scholastic Reading Inventory. The impact of motivation to read on reading gains was evaluated by conducting analyses with the bootstrap method of resampling. The results yielded significant reading gains for all students with and without LD but indicated a significant relationship only between pretest reading scores and improvements in motivation of students without disabilities. In addition, results showed a significant improvement in reading motivation only for students without disabilities.


students with LD, struggling readers, reading gain, motivation to read


A primary objective children are expected to fulfill in the early stages of formal schooling is learning how to read (Strommen & Mates, 2004; Valleley & Shriver, 2003). In fact, having strong reading skills is critically important because good readers tend to succeed in subject areas including mathematics, social studies, and science (Valleley & Shriver, 2003). The importance of early reading instruction has been frequently emphasized because reading proficiency in primary grades is a strong predictor of achievement in upper grades, including postsecondary education (Fuchs, Fuchs, & Kazdan, 1999). However, many students with significant reading problems at younger ages lag behind their peers and continuously struggle with reading difficulties at older ages (Nelson & Manset-Williamson, 2006; Valleley & Shriver, 2003). In addition, the emphasis of reading instruction fades starting in fourth grade, when content area learning (e.g., science, history, and mathematics) becomes the main focus of daily instruction (Torgesen et al., 2007). Consequently, the availability of remedial reading instruction significantly diminishes for struggling readers as they move to the upper grades (Deshler, Palincsar, Biancarosa, & Nair, 2007; Lenz & Deshler, 2004).

Currently, there are approximately 8 million students struggling with reading difficulties in upper-elementary and secondary grades (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). According to National Assessment of Educational Progress results, an average of 69% of students in 4th grade, 71% of adolescents in 8th grade (Lee, Grigg, & Donahue, 2007), and 60% of adolescents in 12th grade (Grigg, Donahue, & Dion, 2007) read below the proficient level, meaning that those students do not demonstrate strong grade-level reading proficiency. The situation is even worse for individuals with disabilities. An average of 87% of fourth grade students and 93% of eighth grade adolescents with disabilities in public schools read below the proficient level (Lee et al., 2007), and the vast majority of adults with disabilities (73%) do not possess even fundamental reading skills (Fuchs et al., 1999). The current reading performance outlook for upper-grade students in the United States--both with and without disabilities--is not encouraging. However, the picture is further disheartening for students with learning disabilities (LD).

Struggling Readers With LD

Many youth with LD in elementary and high school exhibit severe deficiencies in reading and encounter more academic challenges than their peers at the same grade levels (National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities [NJCLD], 2008). Approximately 80% of students with LD exhibit difficulty in reading as the primary manifestation of their disability (Harwell & Jackson, 2008; Lenz & Deshler, 2004), and poor reading performance is a significant contributing factor to the academic achievement gap between struggling readers with LD and proficient readers. …

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