Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Using an Informal Reading Inventory to Differentiate Instruction: Case Studies of Three Deaf Learners

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Using an Informal Reading Inventory to Differentiate Instruction: Case Studies of Three Deaf Learners

Article excerpt

Despite shifts in communication philosophies and instructional approaches, deaf1 learners continue to lag behind their hearing-age peers in reading achievement, with 50% of deaf learners reportedly graduating from high school with abilities below the fourth-grade level (Allen, 1986; King & Quigley, 1985; Pintner & Patterson, 1916; Qi & Mitchell, 2012; Traxler, 2000). Long-standing and ongoing debates in the field of deaf education have centered on the skills and processes employed in learning to read (Allen et al., 2009; Mayer & Trezek, 2014; Paul, Wang, Trezek, & Luckner, 2009; Wang, Trezek, Luckner, & Paul, 2008). More recently, discussions have focused on determining whether theories and models of literacy development that include an emphasis on skills from both the code-related domain (e.g., print principles, phonological abilities, the alphabetic principle) and the languagerelated domain (i.e., knowledge and use of the structures of English) (Adams, 1990, 1994, 2002; McGuinness, 2004, 2005; National Early Literacy Panel, 2008; Storch & Whitehurst, 2002; Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998) apply to deaf learners.

Consistent with an interactive model of literacy development and instruction, code- and language-related skills are not seen as mutually exclusive;

rather, they are viewed as acting in concert to foster reading comprehension (Adams, 1990; Chali, 1996; National Early Literacy Panel, 2008; National Reading Panel, 2000). According to this theoretical framework, learning to read is a hierarchical, developmental process, and comprehension is driven by the reader's language abilities as well as the phonological information derived from text. When learning to read, children must first master the alphabetic principle, or the understanding of the systematic and predictable relationship between graphemes (i.e., letters) and phonemes (i.e., sounds), and develop automaticity and fluency in applying this knowledge to identify words in isolation and in connected text (i.e., coderelated skills).

Once words, phrases, and sentences have been identified through the application of code-related skills, learners must then relate them to those in their language repertoire (i.e., apply language-related skills) in order to comprehend text. In essence, the construction of meaning requires the development and coordination of both code- and language-related abilities (Adams, 1990; Chali, 1996; Stanovich, 1980; Tierney, 1994). Although language competence is a prerequisite for learning to read, mastery of coderelated, phonological skills is the necessary next step as beginning readers make the links between their language and the text (Bradley & Bryant, 1983; Oakhill & Cain, 2012; Tunmer, Herrima, & Nesclale, 1988; Wagner, Torgensen, & Rashotte, 1994).

The reciprocity between code- and language-related skills is also supported by research findings of the National Reading Panel (2000) indicating that there are five essential elements of effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. We suggest that these requisites from both the code- and language-related domains also apply to the reading skill development of deaf learners, and that assessing these skills and abilities forms the foundation for selecting pedagogical approaches and instructional strategies to address identified needs and improve overall achievement.

Summative Assessments

For more than three decades, the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) has been used to collect reading achievement data on deaf learners (see Qi & Mitchell, 2012, for discussion). As is the case for many group-administered, summative assessments of achievement, assessment of reading performance is based on the results of relatively few subtests, and in the case of the SAT these have typically been Reading Comprehension and Reading Vocabulary. Individually administered, standardized, norm-referenced assessments of reading can provide additional information to facilitate understanding of the nature of reading difficulties. …

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