When older students Simply. Can't. Read.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Backroads, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. Backroads

    Backroads Connoisseur

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    Apr 14, 2017

    Some recent in-school conversation and some personal research has had me truly wondering about any lack of literacy skills in upper elementary and secondary. I don't mean the kid that gets up there and school and is maybe a year behind in reading, but those kids who get that far in school with reading skills better suited to the primary grade skill sets.

    How is this handled? Any severe cases anyone has personally been involved with?
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2017
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  3. MetalTeacher

    MetalTeacher Companion

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    Apr 14, 2017

    Sorry I don't have an answer, but I also would like to know.
     
  4. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    Our local schools tend to group these students in classrooms with a special education teacher and a regular education teacher along with some general education students to claim it is a regular education class. All novels are read aloud in class. All notes are guided notes. All quizzes are verbatim from information covered in class. Same goes for tests. Most projects have several differentiated options which usually contain some sort of non-reading or writing component to allow the student to access the curriculum. Then any time these students are expected to actually use skills they don't have they are labeled lazy or not trying hard enough. It doesn't matter that their skills are in the low single digit percentiles. "Lead a horse to water..." is a common phrase in the copy room regarding these students whose levels are years behind but are expected to be performing or giving the illusion of performance near grade level. As for writing skills which are always lacking in students with low reading levels, other students "peer review" their papers re-writing major portions of it and teachers will also "work with" the students which often is just a re-write for the student. Special education students also peer-review general education student papers but don't have much to say.

    I know this doesn't happen at all schools. Wish it didn't happen with our students.
     
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  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Maven

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    Sadly, it happens more often than people think.
     
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  6. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Companion

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    The school where I did my student teaching was like that. Most of my 7th & 8th graders were at about a 5th grade reading level. I had a few as bad as 2nd or 3rd. My co-op had to warn me not to ask the kids to read out loud because it had led to violence in the past. Some of mine couldn't read directions without sounding out words syllable by syllable. Because of the low reading ability, we couldn't use the textbook (which was sad because it was a really good gen. music text), and did the curriculum from scratch.

    When I was designing units, I tried to have some sort of language component and tried to support what the ELA teachers were doing. I put lyrics and captions up on everything we listened to or watched just to boost their exposure to printed words. We looked at the rhyme scheme of songs and raps. I had the kids find similes, metaphors, etc in song lyrics. When I taught story-ballads, we graphed the plots verse by verse. I made a list of tween/YA books and a bunch I knew they'd read in class in previous years and had them pick one and create a soundtrack for it. I suggested using plot points to pick songs, or choosing a theme song for a character, or picking songs that shared a theme with the book. That project went well. My lowest readers used "Charlotte's Web" and "The Polar Express", my highest did "Eragon" and "Lord of the Rings". I was teaching lit. skills through a music frame.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I have a LOT of these kinds of students. They were underserved in middle school, dropped out in high school, and are now trying to do credit recovery on a 4th or 5th grade reading level with me. I'm lobbying my school to pay for access to Achieve 3000, which would allow me to assign the same reading to multiple students but know it's adjusted for their Lexile. Right now, I'm using a lot of ReadWorks articles (informational text seems to be a particular weakness for my students) along with skill-building work. Slowly, I will raise the range of the Lexile in the hopes the students will continue their work on the reading.
     
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  8. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    Apr 14, 2017

    I wonder what percentage of these students were ever tested for a learning disability.
     
  9. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    As most of you know, I taught middle school for one school year (the rest of my years as a classroom teacher were spent teaching 2nd grade). I had a 6th grader who was such a low reader that she hadn't even mastered most high frequency words that are taught in grades 1-3. It was really sad for me to see her struggle with reading; I could see the frustration and embarrassment in her face.

    In high school, she landed at the local continuation school. I ran into her a few weeks ago and she let me know that she's working and has two young children. She's no longer in school and she's only 17. Broke my heart.
     
  10. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Companion

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    Anyone else in districts where they won't test or do interventions until 3rd grade? When you've got a 3rd grader with K-1 literacy skills, we've got trouble in River City that's going to take a lot longer to fix than if it had been addressed in 2nd or 1st. Then of course everything snowballs because 3rd is the read-to-learn switchover year.
     
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  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    One of my grade 7 students, who has ADHD and an LD, reads and writes at a grade 2 level on a good day. He's withdrawn from my room during Literacy instruction (100 minutes/day) but his lack of reading skills impact everything. His deficits are not the result of lack of intervention or lack of desire on his part. He wants to be able to read and works very hard. Right now, one of the biggest struggles is his belief that he's "stupid"; that couldn't be further from the truth. He's in the top third of my class in math (I read all questions to him and scribe his explanations of his process) and we have worked out some strategies to help his access the material in Science, Geography, and History. I do worry about how high school will go for him as his reading level and his knowledge and understanding of concepts are so discrepant..
     
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  12. Obadiah

    Obadiah Cohort

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    If a child can't read on "grade level" by 3rd grade, that's a harbinger of low achievement through high school. I'm deeply troubled when I hear the media blaming teachers. I do find one plausible fault with the school system in that sometimes teachers, probably due to high stakes testing, feel pressured to over emphasize skills above actual linguistic experience, segmented instruction that lacks putting the pieces back together. Otherwise, many researchers detect non-school related factors that deter, distract, and destroy linguistic success.

    Many parents are unfortunately hindered from direct communication with their children. The most important time period for communication is from birth through age 3 when the brain is accumulating and dissecting data for future use. I can't totally blame parents, either, because many need to be separated from their children during the day while they try to earn enough money to survive. But modern distractions also prevent communication, distractions such as TV, the Internet, texting, and in some cases, even partying, drinking, and drug abuse. Seriously, I've often wondered why some kids don't start school thinking their name is Jesus Christ; the most intimate conversations they have with a parent would be, "Jesus Christ kid! Can't you behave!"

    Nutrition is another major factor, not just food nutrition, but let's begin there. McDonald's has evolved from a treat (when I was a kid) to a staple. Water has been replaced by Coke. Benadryl has become the new needed nutrient replacing bed-time stories. Some kids are made drunk with alcohol to provide entertainment for the parents; (this is not a new practice, either). These children's brains are starved for proper food nourishment during the formative years of linguistic development. We don't expect our lawn mowers to function on diluted gas without adding Stabol; how can we expect children's brains to function on diluted food?

    Brain cells, however, also require other "nutrition". Lately I've seen a new trend in my town. Driving through town I've seen kids outside playing; no video games, no texting, just playing. OK, one kid was learning to ride a Hoverboard, but still, that's physical outdoor brain stimulation! They were enjoying our early spring weather, but I hope, hope, hope this continues throughout the summer!

    Brain cells require time to think. Zombies in front of a TV screen do not use much of the upper brain. Cyborgs connected to a video game spend hours developing their lower brain and weakening their upper brain. Texting is excellent exercise--for the thumbs. What if a sudden burst of energy from the sun stopped the functioning of all electronics. I'm not advocating getting rid of TVs and computers, they are an important advancement in society, but think of the results of such a catastrophe. Would it really be catastrophic? The kids might discover the ancient artifacts that have been lying around in the local museums called libraries. They might start reading books.

    And when they're not reading, they'd be playing. While they're playing, they'll be exercising. Their bodies will become stronger; a fit brain needs a fit body to function at it's utmost ability. They'll be communicating! "I'll be the spaceman and you be the Martian. We'll be eating lunch together on an asteroid." They'll be exploring visual spatial relationships that can't be found in a living room; that sounds like math development, and it is, but...reading is a math skill. Geometric shapes represent words. The eyes move from one side of the page to the other following a geometric line of words. The words are arranged in patterns called sentences and paragraphs. Play and exercise build math skills that increase reading skills.

    I don't think schools are to blame. I don't totally put the blame on parents, either. Today's society is infecting children with a new disease that weakens their brains' ability to function linguistically. Have you noticed, or is it just me, that throughout history, major societal intrusions, whether humanly derived or naturally occurring, seem to detract from language. Yet without language, what are we? We have the ability to reverse this current illiterate trend against illiteracy, not by complaining about teachers, but by fighting fire with fire, by fighting illiteracy with literacy and emphasizing proper, normal development with our children. Put child development first and they will develop; ignore the garden, and it will grow weeds.
     
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  13. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Apr 15, 2017

    This is part and parcel of the social decay I've described before.

    We are seeing the effects of runaway social decay. The root causes are crime, drugs, neglect, abuse, poverty, a cultural shifting away from community and toward hedonistic narcissism, and a persistently desensitizing media.

    I search for those large, rippling circles of cause and effect, rather than get distracted and bemoan symptoms of overarching issues.

    "Don't waste tax dollars on tax payers" is the guiding principle behind American politics. Your example is indicative of what complacency returns to society: one solitary symptom of overwhelming social decay.

    Beyond defunding schools, the greed pushing most Americans into greater poverty destroys the family unit, encourages lifelong debt, and perpetuates a slave-like dependency on the wealthy elite.

    The popular mechanics for dealing with a child unable to read are laughable. Push-in and pull out? All that does is take time away from other instruction, producing a net gain of zero.

    The only way to effect a measurable change is to attack deficits with additions to the instructional day—which will never happen in the current sociopolitical climate, because no one would pay for it. "Don't waste tax dollars on tax payers."

    Teachers can't fix families. They can't arrange for a parent to be at home to raise children properly. Teachers can't ensure one parent makes a livable wage for a family. Teachers cannot fix the myriad causes of the social decay. Those are all issues for the people in power, who will not work on those issues because those issues put money in their pockets.

    The answer is that there is no answer, because the actual answer requires reweaving the entire tapestry of America. People in power aren't going to give up power to improve the lives of others. Those of us in the trenches aren't equipped to effect paradigm shifts in the socioeconomic underpinnings of a nation of millions.

    A teacher might keep a child after school for intensive one-on-one instruction. This might help one child. Clearly, we would need millions of teachers willing to work for free, without support, every day. This was the traditional roll of parents. Faced with a dystopian reality bereft of parents, are we actually going to task educators with raising everyone else's children in addition to their own?

    I often think that America deserves the hell that is coming its way. A child who cannot read says more about America than it does the child.
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    I disagree with this. Longer days for kids with disabilities and young children will not produce great results because it becomes too much. A closer look at the overall curriculum to determine how to incorporate learning and learning to read and write at the same time would be a better route to go. There are many topics that are taught in inefficient ways.

    I can't see a kid putting in an additional few hours in school beyond the regular day plus the homework they receive.

    I do believe they need much smaller groups when receiving help and more tailored help depending on the student. Our elementary pull outs have almost 20 kids in the class with one teacher and one aide. That is not a solution for helping a student who is behind.
     
  15. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    Actually, public schools were started because many, if not most, parents weren't able to academically educate their children. Many weren't literate yet we now expect all parents whether they are literate or not, speak the language or not, to teach their child at home. I don't mean monitor homework, I mean actually make sure the child is learning what is supposed to be taught in school.
     
  16. Backroads

    Backroads Connoisseur

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    Lengthening the day of schools is only going to further harm families needing more time together.
     
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  17. otterpop

    otterpop Fanatic

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    At my school, we have a few students (not many) who consistently score in the bottom percentiles on standardized and in-class tests. The ones in my room, I've suggested testing but am discouraged (money reasons, although it's not overtly said), and have also said I don't feel comfortable passing them up to the next grade with their current levels. They will get passed up. I am offering all of the support I possibly can, but these kids need more than that.

    I think it's unacceptable to have children passed up at the higher grade levels who cannot read. I have worked in both an alternative school and a reading intervention room; there are programs designed specifically to help older students who are still learning to read. It's my belief that every school should have some type of reading support program; students who are unable to read should be required to receive intensive reading instruction for an extended time each day. This might require them being held back, or it might require a few courses like music and science be waived, but reading is a necessity for adult life.

    Also, I believe that we should offer alternative routes and career education programs for students. They do still need to learn to read, write, and do basic math, but some students should have the option to study auto mechanics or hairdressing or landscaping if that's something that they show more interest in. It's better for students to have some type of future vocation than to drop out at 16 because they're "not good" at school and then have no skills for the future.
     
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  18. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I'm hoping to see some changes here in Ohio as the students who passed the Third Grade Reading Guarantee make their way to high school. Considering how many students I currently have in my high school classes BELOW this level, it will make my job much easier.
     
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  19. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Where I'm from, there are kids who are better off the less time they spend with their families. Lots of kids like that, actually.
     
  20. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    In a roundabout manner, here again we are blaming the teacher for the child's upbringing. I've been doing this long enough to have serious misgivings whenever yet another drive-by education expert introduces yet another strategy, loaded with clever acronyms, guaranteed to improve instruction and raise test scores. It's a racket. And we keep falling for it.

    I had parents who made me read when I did not want to. I remember having to sit on the couch and read to my older cousin. I did not enjoy it.

    Many American children know no such structure. Their families are broken and dysfunctional. The only hope they will ever have is if the state picks up the slack for their ineffective parents.

    I'm not actually advocating increasing the length of the school day, although that is what some would naturally pick up on. I'm actually arguing that there is no hope at all for these kids. My "solution" is pie-in-the-sky idealism at best. In reality, the state will continue blaming teachers, kids will get worse, more acronym-laden programs will be bought into, some people will get rich, and this country will fall apart.

    To say that inefficiency is the root cause of this and many other problems flies in the face of many hard realities I cannot take time to mention. But it is easier and more profitable to tell a teacher that she is doing her job poorly than it is to bring good-paying jobs to a community.

    I see the "better mousetrap" game for what it is.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    No round about way for me. You are absolutely right that I do believe that the school does bear a fair burden of blame when it comes to having high school students 3+ years behind in academics (provided the student isn't developmentally delayed).

    I see how "help" is implemented in a variety of school systems. 18 students, 4 different levels of ability, a variety of different disabilities all together in pull-out receiving "specially-designed" instruction for an hour a day or an hour and a half max at the elementary level. How much real help could those students be getting? How "specially-designed" can it really be if all get the same? No true helpful accommodations are given in the other subjects when the students can't access the texts or write well enough to do the assignments. Instead things are dumbed down. So, yes, Amy, I do blame schools for this. That is not to say that outside factors also hinder progress, but it isn't as if the schools are faultless.

    Also, there are teachers who care and are highly dedicated that aren't effective at what they do and the methods they employ are not helpful for the student. Many times they will express frustration that the student isn't trying, but the method they are using isn't ever going to work with the student.
    For example, our district felt phonics was an evil thing. Most teachers were trained not knowing phonics. So a child who needed a quality phonics component to reading instruction wasn't going to get it no matter how kind, caring, dedicated, and hard working the teacher was. It just wouldn't happen. I guess you think that all parents should be able to provide intensive phonics instructions in proper lessons to their children after school is out, on the weekends, and over the summer. If that is the case, what is a teaching degree worth?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017

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