Paraprofessionals in Reading

By Ediger, Marlow | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 2003 | Go to article overview

Paraprofessionals in Reading


Ediger, Marlow, Journal of Instructional Psychology


Retired teachers, in particular, can make fine paraprofessionals in the classroom. They can assist the regular teacher to improve reading instruction in the classroom by working with individual pupils who need assistance. Selected retired teachers are willing to volunteer their services part time. They may have an excellent repertoire of skills to use in reading instruction. These skills must be used. Selected pupils do need help in word recognition and comprehension skills. It is difficult for the regular teacher to provide for individual differences in reading, especially when the number of pupils are large in number. Each pupil will be required to read on grade level by the school year 2005- 2006, if not sooner in selected states in the union.

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Paraprofessionals have not been used to the maximum degree in the school setting. For example, there are retired teachers who would like to give a few hours each day to help pupils achieve more optimally. They tend not to be asked for their services. If retired teachers services are used, they have had training and experience to work with children. These teachers have generally passed the test of being good examples for children and their services are needed in school. How might the services of paraprofessionals be used in teaching and learning situations, especially reading instruction?

Assisting Pupils in Reading

Pupils are at different levels of achievement in reading. The child's reading level must be determined so he/she is working on the instructional, not frustrational level of instruction. An informal reading Inventory (IRI) may be taken by the pupil. Here, the teacher may take the basal reading series presently being used in the school setting. The basal needs to be arranged from easiest to gradually more complex, or by graded levels. The child needs to start where he/she is comfortable in reading and progresses until the approximate 95% of words are identified correctly in the sequentially chosen selection of the reader. Thus, if a pupil identifies 95 out of 100 running words correctly from a third grade reader, he/she has met one dimension of determining his/her approximate reading level. The second dimension is to ask questions pertaining to comprehension for these 100 running words. If the child can answer three out of four questions correctly, that book should be on the pupil's present reading level of instruction. From that point on with quality instruction, the pupil should be able to make optimal prioresses with good teaching. These are approximate figures; teachers must always study different approaches and texts to improve reading instruction. The reading curriculum needs to be flexible, not carved in stone. New insights, new information, new research, and new techniques, might well make for changes to be made in the reading curriculum for a child. Teachers need to observe each child and notice if modifications need to be made in teaching reading to children. It becomes quite difficult for the regular teacher to determine reading levels of pupils when he/she is teaching an entire classroom of pupils and the one pupil at a time needs to be consulted pertaining to determining the personal reading level. The paraprofessional may help in doing this. Ideally, other pupils should not listen to the one reading the 100 running words (Ediger, 2000, Chapter Ten). Accurate records need to be kept pertaining to which selection is being read by a child as well as which words were missed during the oral reading. The one assessing pupil achievement in reading the 100 running words might well wish to notice the kinds of errors made In order to do diagnosis and remediation. The kinds of errors made might include the following:

* omitting words.

* substituting words.

* mispronouncing words.

* rereading a word or phrase even though the original response was correct.

* hesitating on a word longer than three seconds. …

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