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ERIC Number: EJ994415
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0009-4056
In Defense of Today's Struggling Reader: What Policymakers Can Learn from Beth
Spencer, Tamara
Childhood Education, v88 n6 p382-387 2012
Beth attends a New York City K-8, dual-language (Spanish/English) public school where 96% of the students qualify as low-income, based on participation in the federally funded lunch program. Early in Beth's 1st-grade year, she was classified as a struggling reader, based on district-wide assessments that identified academic deficits in such skill areas as phonemic awareness, letter/sound identification, and writing development. In Beth's school, teachers and administrators regularly met to discuss how to help young struggling readers--devising intervention plans, curricular modifications, and test preparation courses. Although the high-stakes assessments labeled Beth as needing help with print-related skills, they did not evaluate her desire to read and write, her curiosity and interest in printed text, and her commitment to becoming a successful student. Despite these positive learning traits, Beth's performance on district assessments told another, less encouraging story. In this article, the author questions the way that teachers and administrators intervene with struggling readers in today's early childhood classrooms and suggests that the current, prescriptive approach blinds them from seeing the "whole child"--that is, taking into account capabilities that children such as Beth exhibit in learning environments. While many teachers and administrators might react swiftly to a struggling reader with targeted instructional intervention, the author proposes a different approach. She describes Beth's experience as a struggling reader, sharing the story of a young child who viewed herself to be both a capable reader and writer and a contributing member of her classroom community. In fact, Beth demonstrated resilience and potential while learning to read and write within a linguistically rich and complex social world, despite her status as a struggling reader. When a struggling reader's performance in high-stakes assessments is viewed within a social milieu, a different narrative unfolds.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York