Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The narrative language performance of three types of at-risk first-grade readers

Allen, M.A., Ukrainetz, T.A., & Carswell, A.L. (2012). The narrative language performance of three types of at-risk first-grade readers. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 43. 205-221.

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a three-tiered approach to identifying and supporting children with reading difficulties. In order to read fluently, a reader must be skilled in both decoding and comprehension.  Decoding involves recognizing letters and their corresponding sounds, while comprehension requires the reader to put words together to understand a whole sentence or text. In this study, Allen, Ukrainetz, and Carswell suggest that current RTI models are mainly focused on the decoding processes required in reading, but pay less attention to the linguistic aspects of reading.

In this study, first grade at-risk readers completed measures of expressive and receptive language at 2 points in the school year and prior to intervention. Early resolvers who demonstrated an improvement of reading skills continued with the Tier 1 classroom program. The remaining children received four-weeks of Tier 2 intervention focusing on either fluency or accuracy.  Those who received the intervention were grouped as good or poor responders based on the intervention outcome. The retrospective analysis revealed that narrative skills as measured in story retelling (story length; number & variety of words) were better for the good responders than either the poor responders or early resolvers. The early resolvers also used less productive language and recounted fewer elements of the narratives compared to the good responders.

            The authors suggested that good responders may have had early reading differences related to experience, but had stronger language skills to support their reading improvement throughout the intervention. The early responders, who demonstrated reading skills expected for their grade, still demonstrated language difficulties on the narrative retell task. Because responses to the code-based RTI model differed based on narrative language skills, the authors argued that RTI models should also consider linguistic aspects of reading difficulty. Including a narrative language component in RTI models would widen the scope of RTI models to identify and support children with language deficits.

Blogger: Alex Cross is completing a combined MClSc and PhD in speech language pathology. Her work focusing on reading will be part of both the Language and Working Memory and the Language, Reading, and Cognitive Neuroscience labs.

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