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It did not find evidence to support specific recommendations about which strategies are best at different stages of development. Opportunities for teachers and students to discuss the material students are reading have also been identified as a valuable tool for developing comprehension Applebee et al. Discussions that are largely directed by the teacher—reflecting goals the teacher has identified or challenges the teacher anticipates such as complex or unfamiliar ideas or vocabulary or support features such as maps and graphs that require interpretation —build specific comprehension skills.

We note that there are several approaches to instruction that are designed to build comprehension and that a debate has developed between. Strategy instruction, which entails explicitly teaching the processes used in reading for understanding, has been prominent in the literature, including the National Reading Panel Report National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, This model of instruction is principally based on theories regarding self-regulation. The alternative approach focuses on the way readers continuously build a mental representation of a text, and it calls for a focus on content, rather than processes.

The two approaches have been studied independently, but it is only recently that researchers have investigated their comparative advantages. McKeown, Beck, and Blake compared the effects of each approach and also compared them with the effects of a control approach, instruction guided by a basal reading program. This quasi-experimental study was conducted over 2 years with 5th-grade students in an urban setting. Measures used to assess the effectiveness of instruction included assessments of the understanding of the texts taught and assessments that asked students to go beyond what they had been explicitly taught.

The results of this study were mixed: they showed no difference across the approaches on one measure but more positive results for the content-based approach on others. The volume of available guidance to reading teachers shows that many practitioners and researchers have strong views about the knowledge and skills that are most important for teachers of reading; however, the research has less to offer on this question than on the question of what successful students know. The three summary reports from the National Research Council , the International Reading Association , and the National Reading Panel National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, have put forward summary descriptions of what excellent reading teachers know and can do.

The next section summarizes those three reports on this question; the following two sections cover two special groups, adolescents and English-language learners. Preparing Our Teachers, a report designed to distill from the NRC report practical suggestions for teachers and teacher preparation programs, stresses the importance of a well-rounded education for prospective teachers Strickland et al.

The report advocates that teachers develop knowledge across a range of fields and topics—including the behavioral and cognitive sciences, the social sciences, and language and literature—as well as a detailed understanding of the content of relevant academic standards. Thus, they posit that teachers need to understand and know how to teach the foundational reading skills National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Thus, the NRP asserts that prospective teachers should learn how to apply emerging empirical evidence in making their own judgments about instructional programs or developing instructional approaches for themselves, based on the needs of their students.

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For example, only a handful of studies that met the NRP criteria addressed specific approaches for teaching comprehension—one of the foundational skills. The few studies that were available related to the specific strategies known as the direct explanation approach and the transactional strategy approach support the conclusion that formal instruction is necessary for teachers to implement them effectively. The panel also found that research on the development of reading comprehension skills provided important guidance for effective instruction National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, , p.

First, reading comprehension is a complex process that cannot be understood without a clear description of the role that vocabulary development and vocabulary instruction play in the understanding of what has been read. Second, comprehension is an active process that requires an intentional and thoughtful interaction between the reader and the text.

The panel conducted similar analyses for the elements of alphabetics and fluency and found empirical support for the effectiveness of a number of instructional strategies, such as teaching children to manipulate phonemes in words and guided oral reading, in helping students develop as readers. Nevertheless, the NRP report notes that many specific questions about instructional approaches remain unanswered.

The IRA identifies an array of knowledge that is important for teachers to have. Based on professional judgment and on a review of the literature on reading and reading instruction, the IRA concluded that any preparation program for reading teachers should include six elements International Reading Association, : 3. A foundation in research and theory: Teachers must develop a thorough understanding of language and reading development as well as an understanding of learning theory and motivation in order to ground their instructional decision making effectively.

This includes the study of the phonemic basis for oral language, phonics instruction, and attention to syntax and semantics as support for word recognition and self-monitoring. Text-level comprehension strategies: Teachers must be prepared to teach multiple strategies that readers can use to construct meaning from text and to monitor their comprehension.

They must understand the ways in which vocabulary word meaning and fluency instruction can support comprehension and develop the capacity for critical analysis of texts that considers multiple perspectives. Reading-writing connections: Teachers must be prepared to teach strategies that connect writing to the reading of literary and information texts as a support for comprehension. This includes attention to teaching conventions of writing.


Instructional approaches and materials: Teachers must be prepared to use a variety of instructional strategies and materials selectively, appropriately, and flexibly. Assessment: Teachers must be prepared to use appropriate assessment techniques to support responsive instructional decision making and reflection. These six elements are described on pages 2 through 6 of International Reading Association ; we have paraphrased the descriptions. There is little empirical evidence that directly links particular knowledge and skills that teachers have to outcomes for students.

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However, experts have drawn logical conclusions about what teachers should know and be able to do from research concerning the attributes of successful readers and instructional strategies that have been successful, as well as normative views of the professional knowledge necessary to teach reading. The current working hypothesis is not that teachers need to master particular instructional strategies, but that there is an arsenal of strategies they can use to meet the needs of diverse students.

Common sense suggests that the teaching of reading is different in elementary schools than it is in middle and high schools. Elementary schools have a built-in support system for the development of successful reading.

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That system includes a period of time devoted each day to instruction by a teacher who has special training in reading, and elementary schools often have reading specialists and interventions for struggling readers. Middle and secondary schools, however, less frequently have systems in place to support struggling readers. Recent research has identified instructional strategies that seem to be effective with struggling adolescent readers Kamil, ; Biancarosa and Snow, ; see also Graham and Perin, ; Haynes, ; Heller and Greenleaf, ; Short and Fitzsimmons, The statement recommends that schools provide: ongoing reading instruction across the curriculum for all students; assessment that informs instruction; and ample opportunities to read and discuss reading with others International Reading Association and National Middle School Association, The authors recommend five specific practices, with different levels of evidentiary support: for 1, 2, and 5, the evidence is strong; for 3 and 4, it is moderate.

There is ample evidence that many students have not become successful readers by the time they leave elementary school see, e. Thus, it is important that teachers of middle and high school students understand the importance of helping students continue to build on the foundational reading skills established in elementary school and know how to identify students who are still struggling. Although researchers are now focusing greater attention than previously on the distinct needs of struggling adolescent readers, the literature supplies more promising ideas than settled research on the most effective ways to reach these students.

Although there are teaching specialists trained to work with English-language learners see Chapter 3 , most of those students do not have enough access to specialists, either because they are moved out of language support classes before they are proficient or because they are expected to function in mainstream classes with teachers who have not been prepared to address their needs while extra language support is provided separately Lucas and Grinberg, These students would be best served if their teachers understood the factors that affect their reading development and.

Unfortunately the empirical evidence on what this preparation should consist of is limited. The National Literacy Panel for Language Minority Children and Youth prepared a report similar to that of the National Reading Panel, which summarized the evidence on the development of literacy among English-language learners using similar criteria in identifying high-quality empirical research August and Shanahan, The panel identified the knowledge it views as important for teachers who will work with English-language learners:.

Lucas and Grinberg also summarized the literature available, including the limited number of empirical studies and other materials. They found that it is valuable for teachers of English-language learners, regardless of the subject they are teaching, to have knowledge of p. In terms of second-language development, Lucas and Grinberg cite a range of empirical and other work that indicates that the development of literacy is much smoother for English-language learners if they have already developed strong skills in their native language and that teachers should help students draw on their original language as a support in improving their English.

Lucas and Grinberg also report that it is important that teachers recognize the difference between conversational and academic language. Students cannot succeed at studying academic subjects in a second language until they have sufficient proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Moreover, anxiety, which is more likely if their skills in any of these areas are limited, can impede learning. English language learners may need to be explicitly taught to transfer these skills. All readers comprehend texts on familiar topics more readily than unfamiliar ones, and English-language learners may have difficulty comprehending texts, even if they are proficient readers in terms of their decoding and fluency, if they are unfamiliar with the vocabulary and content of a text.

Adolescent English-language learners who have opportunities to apply comprehension skills to content texts in their native language acquire these skills much faster because they understand the text. Once these skills are acquired in their native languages, they can be transferred to English reading August and Shanahan, English-language learners of middle or high school age present a particular challenge. The integration of second-language and reading development requires specific teacher preparation, particularly for those who teach English-language learners in content areas such as mathematics, science, and social studies August et al.

These students are at a significant disadvantage because they are not generally offered the literacy instruction provided to students in elementary school August et al. Not only are middle and high school English-language learners expected to master complex course content, often with minimal background knowledge or preparation, but they also have fewer years to master the English language.

When English-language learners are promoted from grade to grade on the basis of fluency assessments, they may not receive appropriate instruction on vocabulary and reading comprehension August et al. Thus, these students benefit if their teachers of mathematics, science, and social studies can integrate explicit vocabulary and reading comprehension instruction that focuses on their subject-matter instruction Short and Fitzsimmons, However, according to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics , in only Teachers of any subject or grade may be called on to address the needs of English-language learners, but reading teachers have a particular responsibility to understand the challenges of second-language acquisition.

There is little empirical research to demonstrate that teachers who have been taught particular knowledge and skills have students who learn better than others. However, there is a consensus on the skills and knowledge most useful to teachers of reading, which provides the best available guidance for the preparation of teachers of reading:.

Relatively few empirical studies have been focused on the question of how teachers ought to be prepared to teach reading. The NRP examined this question and identified just 11 studies that addressed preservice education and also met the selection criteria for their report National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, These studies did not address long-term outcomes or outcomes for students, and there were too few of them for the NRP to draw specific conclusions about what should happen in teacher preparation programs. The NRP report noted that many questions—regarding the content, length, and effectiveness of preservice education, and other issues—deserve further research.

Not all of those characteristics are directly relevant to the experiences prospective teachers should have, and they are derived less from empirical research than from an analy-. Content: The programs draw on an integrated body of research focusing on how students become successful readers and how teachers support students with instruction. Faculty and teaching: The faculty is committed to effective instruction that delivers appropriate content and models successful instructional techniques for students.

Apprenticeships, field experiences, and practice: The programs move teachers through systematically arrayed field experiences that are closely coordinated with their coursework and expose them to excellent modes and mentors. Diversity: The programs are saturated with an awareness of diversity, and they produce teachers who know how to teach diverse students in diverse settings. Candidate and program assessment: The programs intentionally and regularly assess their students, graduates, faculty, and curriculum to guide instructional decision making and program development.

Governance, resources, and vision: The programs are centered on a vision of quality teaching that produces a community of future leaders in reading education. The governance gives faculty appropriate control for realizing that vision. Risko and her colleagues also analyzed the research on the education of reading teachers. They identified 82 studies that focused on the preparation of teachers for K classroom reading instruction that met their critieria.

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They selected for review empirical studies that reflected a variety of methodological stances and were published between and in a peer-reviewed journal. The findings in this paper are primarily suggestive of experiences that may be valuable, depending on the goals one identifies for teacher preparation.

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The authors identify a few elements of teacher preparation as likely to be effective:. Although there is very little empirical basis for claims about precisely how prospective reading teachers should be prepared, two elements stand out from the literature as likely to be valuable and should be examined more rigorously:.