Presenters

Mandy StrongFollow

First Presenter's Institution

Samford University

Second Presenter's Institution

NA

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Ballroom D

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

The Pathway to Graduation (PTG) project is directly related to student academic and social outcomes to help them be more successful post-school environments. The project is geared toward at-risk students who exhibit academic and behavioral deficits that would prevent them from succeeding in high school if not remediated. This project is a summer reading intervention focused on reading improvement and developing appropriate social/emotional skills needed for school success like self-determination, self-advocacy, and personal responsibility.

Brief Program Description

Usefulness to Practitioners

This presentation will provide an overview of a summer reading intervention program for middle school students who are struggling readers and exhibit behavioral deficits. The purpose of the program was twofold: (1) to intervene with struggling readers; (2) to use a social skills component to develop motivational skills in participants.

Attendees of the presentation can leave with an understanding of ways to implement summer interventions in an effort to enhance the academic performance of struggling students. This presentation is geared toward administrators, teachers, and university partners on ways to develop future programs to impact achievement.

Summary

The demands of general education content, lack of reading training in general education teachers, and special education programming or scheduling needs can prevent struggling readers in the middle school grades from receiving the intensive reading instruction needed to impact their learning during the school year (Santa, 2006). The summer months provide a great opportunity to address remediation of reading skills for struggling readers while providing an engaging and enjoyable environment that is often not possible during the school year. An added benefit of reading instruction during the summer months is the opportunity to avoid the summer reading setback that can cause struggling readers to fall further behind their peers (Allington et al., 2010).

Pathway to Graduation (PTG) was created to improve the reading competency and academic motivation of struggling middle school readers while training future teachers how to implement effective reading practices in their classrooms during the summer months. PTG was created as a collaborative partnership between a university, a local school district, and the local Department of Mental Health.

All learners in this project are considered to be an at-risk group. The majority of participants were on free/reduced lunch and the majority were members of an ethnically diverse group of students. The impact on this program is one last attempt to improve the motivation, long-term goals, and reading skills of middle school children with identified reading and behavioral deficits.

This program has been a part of a 4- year research study. The methodology used for this study is a pre/post test quasi-experimental study. Two research questions were posed by this study (1) Could an intensive 6-week summer reading program impact the reading performance of students with identified reading disabilities? (2) Does the addition of a social skills component of this reading intervention impact student motivation and behavior during the school year?

The presenters will show 4 years of data from this program to review. The outcomes from this program have been promising and have shown growth each year after the implementation of the 6-week reading intervention. Anecdotal outcomes from participants, teachers, and parents will also be included. Strengths and limitations from the research will be outlined.

Evidence

As students move to the upper elementary and middle school grades, the distance between struggling readers and successful readers widens. Stanovich (1986) referred to this phenomenon as the “Matthew Effect” where the successful readers become stronger and are exposed to more challenging text, while the struggling readers become less motivated to read and fall further behind their peers in reading skill and text exposure. Another issue that arises as struggling readers proceed into the middle school years is an increase in the occurrence of challenging behaviors in the classroom (Oakes, Mathur, & Lane, 2010; Wang & Algozzine, 2011). These behaviors are often in place to mask the students reading difficulties and can become a habit if the reading struggles of the student are not addressed.

Oftentimes, the demands of general education content, lack of reading training in general education teachers, and special education programming or scheduling needs can prevent struggling readers in the middle school grades from receiving the intensive reading instruction needed to impact their learning during the school year (Santa, 2006). The summer months provide a great opportunity to address remediation of reading skills for struggling readers while providing an engaging and enjoyable environment that is often not possible during the school year. An added benefit of reading instruction during the summer months is the opportunity to avoid the summer reading setback that can cause struggling readers to fall further behind their peers (Allington et al., 2010).

Summer reading setback refers to the regression of reading skills during the summer months and has been well documented in minority, low-income, and less skilled readers (Allington et al., 2010; Kim & White, 2008). Most schools require students to read selected books during the summer in an attempt to maintain skill levels over the extended summer break. The majority of research on summer reading programs and the summer reading setback has focused on providing books for low-income students to read during the summer months with mixed results (Allington et al., 2010; Kim, 2007; Kim & White, 2008). However, summer reading requirements are often at too high a level to impact any skill development in struggling readers, particularly during the middle school grades.

The summer break can provide a unique opportunity to remediate and expand on learning for students who are struggling, particularly in reading (Allington et al., 2010; Denton, Solari, Ciancio, Hecht, & Swank, 2010). The time during the summer allows the focus to be on the intensive individual reading needs of the student. With the possibilities of summer reading interventions in mind, a pilot project was developed as part of a collaborative partnership to address the reading needs of middle school students identified or at-risk for disabilities with noted behavioral concerns.

The reading instruction in the PTG project was focused on the components of effective reading instruction outlined by the National Reading Panel (2000). The project tutors and certified teachers were responsible for implementing the reading instruction program. The reading instruction focused on decoding, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary development. The students moved through the reading instruction component, counseling, lunch, and recreation in a scheduled rotation to ensure that each group received every component of instruction daily and to keep the students focused and motivated in the project (see Table 1 for daily schedule). The rotations allowed students to be mobile so they would remain engaged in the content and learning tasks.

The Wilson Reading Program (Wilson, 2004) was selected for teaching decoding skills. One of the three certified teachers taught the decoding in small groups based on each participant’s reading skill level. The Wilson Reading Program is a research-based reading program focused on the reading needs of students with language-based reading deficits, such as decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension skills (Guyer, Banks, & Guyer, 1993; Moats, 1998; Wilson, Torgeson et al, 2006; Wilson, 1998; Wilson & O’Connor, 1995). The program is based out of the Orton-Gillingham Method of multisensory teaching (Orton, 1937; Ritchey & Goeke, 2006). Each PTG project tutor and his/her assigned group of 2-4 students attended the decoding session with the certified teacher. To ensure that the proper instruction occurred during the lesson, project tutors assessed treatment fidelity. Decoding instruction included sound drills, explicit modeling of sounds between real and nonsense words, use of word and letter manipulatives and games to practice new skills, text reading, reading in sentences to practice fluency skills, and dictation of sentences using skills learned in the lesson.

The fluency instruction in the project was conducted by the PTG project tutor and consisted of multiple readings of text from Great Leaps (Mercer & Campbell, 1998), a reading fluency program created specifically for middle school students. First, students read aloud a short passage. Then, they were timed rereading the passage for one minute. In order to progress, students had to read at 100% accuracy.

The comprehension component of the PTG project was taught by a certified special education interventionist from the local school district, assisted by the project tutors. Specifically, the comprehension component involved the group reading of a chapter book. The first week focused on expressive language development through visualization and verbalization strategies. The remaining 5 weeks focused on completing the chapter book using best practices for reading comprehension, such as predicting questions, evaluation, summarizing, and questioning the text.

Each week one of the small groups was chosen to present a reader’s theater. Reader’s theater consisted of a brief play/skit using props, technology, and acting skills using a script provided the prior week. Each group presented twice during the 6-week PTG project.

The vocabulary component of the PTG project focused on the training of multiple meaning words and was taught by the project tutors. Students were asked to draw pictures, write sentences, and use graphic organizers to represent the multiple meanings of words. At the end of the vocabulary session, students were given time for independent reading on Nooks purchased by the school district.

In addition to the reading program, a mental health counselor led the students through a social support program focused on long-term goals and academic motivation. The Why Try Curriculum (Moore, 2004) was used in the social support component of the PTG program, and students met daily with the counselor for 30 minutes. In the curriculum, students viewed video vignettes and participated in role-play and group problem solving focused on motivation and academic success.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Mandy Hilsmier is a professor of Special Education that has been at Samford University since the fall of 2004. Dr. Hilsmier is a former special education teacher and school psychometrist/learning specialist prior to pursuing her doctorate. Her areas of research focus on middle and high school students with reading and behavioral challenges, assessment and evaluation of students with disabilities, managing challenging behavior in the classroom, functional behavioral assessment, the transition of students with autism into the higher education environment, and ways to train teachers how to use function-based thinking to improve individual student behavior. Dr. Hilsmier teaches overview of special education, child development, managing challenging behavior, special education assessment, and evidence-based methods of special education instruction at the graduate and undergraduate level at Samford University.

Keyword Descriptors

Reading intervention, Social skills intervention, Special education, Emotional and behavioral disorders

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-7-2017 8:30 AM

End Date

3-7-2017 9:45 AM

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Mar 7th, 8:30 AM Mar 7th, 9:45 AM

Pathway to Graduation: A Summer Reading Intervention Project for Middle School Students

Ballroom D

Usefulness to Practitioners

This presentation will provide an overview of a summer reading intervention program for middle school students who are struggling readers and exhibit behavioral deficits. The purpose of the program was twofold: (1) to intervene with struggling readers; (2) to use a social skills component to develop motivational skills in participants.

Attendees of the presentation can leave with an understanding of ways to implement summer interventions in an effort to enhance the academic performance of struggling students. This presentation is geared toward administrators, teachers, and university partners on ways to develop future programs to impact achievement.