Reading Comprehension Instruction for Ninth Graders with Learning Disabilities: A Reality Check
Ko, Tiffany J.
MetadataShow full item record
Reading comprehension is a significant concern for adolescents with learning disabilities (LD), particularly in secondary schools where content is taught primarily through textbooks (Scruggs, Mastropieri, & McDuffie, 2007). Many students with LD are inactive readers who lack the metacognitive skills that their proficient reading peers have (Gersten et al., 1998; Mastropieri, Scruggs, & Graetz, 2003). Research has shown that students with LD benefit from comprehension instruction that is direct, explicit, and strategic (Gajria, Jitendra, Sood, & Sacks, 2007; Gersten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001; Roberts, Torgesen, Boardman, & Scammacca, 2008). Surprisingly little is known about reading instruction for students with LD in secondary classrooms. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the reading comprehension instruction in special education reading classrooms for ninth grade students with LD. Additionally, teacher interviews were conducted to better understand the factors that special educators identified as influencing their reading comprehension instructional decisions. Eight special education teachers representing six urban high schools were observed and interviewed three times over the course of the study. Data were analyzed using qualitative data analysis methods to code, categorize, and identify emergent themes related to reading comprehension instruction and the factors that influence instruction. Results from classroom observations indicated that special education teachers implemented a number of reading comprehension strategies, practices, and activities. The most frequently observed practices included student and teacher read aloud, questioning, independent seatwork, activating prior knowledge, and using graphic organizers. Explicit instruction in how and when to use reading comprehension strategies, however, was not observed. Additionally, findings from teacher interviews revealed that student, school, and personal factors influenced their instruction, including their students’ abilities and needs, test preparation, and personal interests. Teacher responses conveyed a limited understanding of the components of reading comprehension instruction. This study contributes important descriptive information on the reality of reading comprehension instruction for students with LD in secondary schools. Moreover, it reveals the extent to which evidence-based reading comprehension practices are not making their way into secondary reading classrooms and offers insight into factors that teachers state as influencing their reading comprehension instruction for students with LD. Implications for future research and teacher preparation are discussed.
Subjectreading comprehension instruction