Academic journal article Education

The Effectiveness of a Balanced Approach to Reading Intervention in a Second Grade Student: A Case Study

Academic journal article Education

The Effectiveness of a Balanced Approach to Reading Intervention in a Second Grade Student: A Case Study

Article excerpt

Introduction

Basic literacy skills, which develop in early childhood, serve as the foundation for reading development throughout children's academic careers. If these skills do not develop properly, life-long reading difficulties can result (Otto, 2008). The early elementary years of schooling, which encompass Kindergarten through third grade, are a crucial window in the development of foundational literacy skills including letter recognition, auditory discrimination among phonemes, and letter-sound relationships (Lerner & Johns, 2012; McGee & Richgels, 2008; Otto, 2008; Piaget, 1964). Consequently, developing children's basic reading skills is a major educational goal for primary school teachers (Otto, 2008). As children begin to master basic reading skills, teachers can integrate higher level reading skills such as fluency and comprehension into their daily instruction.

While many students are able to successfully learn foundational reading skills in elementary school, approximately 17.5% of school-aged children in the United States encounter reading problems during the first three years of school (National Reading Panel, 2000). Several studies have supported common characteristics among children who are at-risk for reading difficulties and would likely benefit from some level of reading intervention. These risk factors include: lack of phonemic awareness (sound principles), lack of familiarity with the letters in the alphabet, and lack of sufficient vocabulary and oral language skills (Dunn, 2010; Lyon, 2003). If not addressed in the elementary school years, reading deficits will continue to negatively impact students' academic performance throughout their educational careers; therefore early identification and intervention for students with reading problems is critical to maximize success as reading is a basic skill needed for all academic subjects in school (Lerner & Johns, 2012).

The five key components to reading, as described by the National Reading Panel (2000), are phonemic awareness, word recognition, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. Phonemic awareness is comprised of the abilities to understand that words are made up of a variety of sounds parts (phonemes) and manipulate those sound parts in oral speech (Nicholson, 2006). Word recognition is defined as the ability to identify words using strategies such as decoding, sight-words, context clues, and structural analysis (National Reading Panel, 2000). Students who have specific learning disabilities in reading often exhibit skill deficits in both phonemic awareness and word recognition.

Best Practices in Instruction and Intervention

Numerous studies have found that the most effective instructional approaches teach reading using a 'balanced' approach. This methodology teaches both phonics skills (i.e., letter recognition, auditory discrimination among phonemes, and letter-sound relationship) and whole-language skills (i.e., the learned associations between visual recognition of words and meaning) (Bradley & Bryant, 1983; Fitzgerald, 1999; Honig, 2001; Karemaker, Pitchford & O'Malley, 2010; Matson, 1996; Reutzel & Cooter, 2004; Slavin, Lake, Davis, & Madden, 2011).

Both phonics- and whole-language approaches ultimately have accurate word identification as their goals. Word identification includes decoding skills; it also involves the ability to identify words using strategies such as sight words, context clues, and structural analysis. Sight word recognition involves the instantaneous recognition of words without further analysis. Teaching sight-word recognition is beneficial in identifying high frequency words and words that do not follow the predictable pattern of letter--sound relationships (Lerner & Johns, 2012).

Because the skills needed for sight word recognition are different from foundational phonics skills, interventions that use balanced instruction to teach both phonics and whole word identification skills are recommended as best practice (Andersen, Licht, & Ullmann, 1979; Foorman & Liberman, 1989; Joseph, 2008; Mayfield, 2000). …

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