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Teaching Teachers Key to Helping Weak Rural Readers

Poor, rural children are more likely to become struggling readers because they lack access to services and resources that could benefit them, but a new study has found classroom teachers can be as effective with those students as non-struggling readers in a regular classroom.

The study, "Targeted Reading Intervention: A Coaching Model to Help Classroom Teachers With Struggling Readers," was published in a May issue of Learning Disability Quarterly. The study is available for purchase online.

The research focused on five schools in poor, rural counties. Its findings are particularly important for rural schools because it's more cost-effective to use regular classroom teachers to help weak readers when few resources are available, according to the study. Trained classroom teachers also can continue providing help to needy students, unlike other programs that rely on specialists who are at schools temporarily.

The study evaluated kindergarten and first-grade classroom teachers who gave individualized instruction in one-on-one sessions (15 minutes a day for four days each week) to struggling readers. These teachers, unlike those in the study's control group, had a trained reading coach who watched them and gave feedback on how to better help students. Struggling readers results were compared to similar students in other schools.

The study showed regular classroom teachers receiving the extra help could get the same results in four to nine weeks as a specialist who works with children for longer periods of time outside that classroom.

Although this kind of arrangement initially requires additional resources (i.e. the specialist training teachers and providing feedback), the study's authors contend their results show this was a "promising classroom teacher intervention to help young struggling readers."

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