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Building Up to Frustration-Level Text

by Tim Shanahan
 | Sep 02, 2014

In the latest print edition of Reading Today, Timothy Shanahan presented a summary of his research address from the IRA 2014 Conference in New Orleans concerning the question of whether or not to teach students at their reading levels.

Shanahan, a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago who serves on IRA’s Literacy Research Panel, cited what he referred to as misused research evidence, concluding that sticking only with student-text matching can result in a scenario in which the learner never really catches up. Instead, he suggested more emphasis on scaffolding to help students better grasp frustration text and not veer away from it.

He concluded by stating he has found more than 20 studies that used scaffolding to allow students to read frustration-level text as if it was at their instructional level. Here are those studies:

Bonfiglio, C. M., Daly, E. J., Persampieri, M., & Andersen, M. (2006). An experimental analysis of the effects of reading interventions in a small group reading instruction context. Journal of Behavioral Education, 15, 93-109. 

Burns, M. K. (2007).  Reading at the instructional level with children identified as learning disabled: Potential implications for Response-to-Intervention. School Psychology Quarterly, 22, 297-313.

Burns, M. K., Dean, V. J., & Foley, S. (2004). Preteaching unknown key words with incremental rehearsal to improve reading fluency and comprehension with children identified as reading disabled. Journal of School Psychology, 42, 303–314.

Carney, J.J., Anderson, D., Blackburn, C., & Blessing, D. (1984). Preteaching vocabulary and the comprehension of social studies materials by elementary school children. Social Education, 48(3), 195-196.

Daly, E., & Martens, B. (1994). A comparison of three interventions for increasing oral reading performance: Application of the instructional hierarchy. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27,459-469.

Eckert, T. L., Ardoin, S. P., Daisey, D. M., & Scarola, M. D. (2000). Empirically evaluating the effectiveness of reading interventions: The use of brief experimental analysis and single-case designs. Psychology in the Schools, 37, 463-474.

Faulkner, H. J., & Levy, B. A. (1999). Fluent and nonfluent forms of transfer in reading: Words and their message. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 6, 111-116.

Gickling, E. E., & Armstrong, D. L. (1978). Levels of instructional difficulty as related to on-task behavior, task completion, and comprehension. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 11,559-566.

Hall, K. M., Sabey, B. L., & McClellan, M. (2005). Expository text comprehension: Helping primary-grade teachers use expository texts to full advantage. Reading Psychology, 26,211-234.

Levy, B. A., Nicholls, A., & Kohen, D. (1993). Repeated readings: Process benefits for good and poor readers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 56, 303-327.

McComas, J. J., Wacker, D. P. & Cooper, L. J. (1996). Experimental analysis of academic performance in an academic setting. Journal of Behavioral Education, 6,191-201.

Neill, K. (1979). Turn kids on with repeated reading. Teaching Exceptional Children, 12, 63-64.

O’Shea, L. J., Sindelar, P. T., & O’Shea, D. J. (1985). The effects of repeated readings and attentional cues on reading fluency and comprehension. Journal of Reading Behavior, 17, 129-142.

Pany, D., & McCoy, K. M. (1988). Effects of corrective feedback on word accuracy and reading comprehension of readers with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 21, 546-550.

Rasinski, T. V. (1990). Effects of repeated reading and listening-while-reading on reading fluency. Journal of Educational Research, 83, 147-150.

Reitsma, P. (1988). Reading practice for beginners: Effects of guided reading, reading-while-listening, and independent reading with computer-based speech feedback. Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 219-235.

Rose, T. L., & Beattie, J. R. (1986). Relative effects of teacher-directed and taped previewing on oral reading. Learning Disability Quarterly, 9, 193-199.

Sanford, A. K., & Horner, R. H. (2013). Effects of matching instruction difficulty to students with escape-maintained problem behavior. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 15,79-89.

Sindelar, P. T., Monda, L. E., & O’Shea, L. J. (1990). Effects of repeated readings on instructional- and mastery-level readers. Journal of Educational Research, 83,220-226.

Smith, D. D. (1979). The improvement of children’s oral reading through the use of teacher modeling. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 12 (3), 39-42.

Stoddard, K., Valcante, G., Sindelar, P., O’Shea, L., & Algozzine, B. (1993). Increasing reading rate and comprehension: The effects of repeated readings, sentence segmentation, and intonation training. Reading Research and Instruction, 32, 53-65.

Taylor, N. E., Wade, M. R., & Yekovich, F. R. (1985). The effects of text manipulation and multiple reading strategies on the reading performance of good and poor readers. Reading Research Quarterly, 20, 566-574.

Turpie, J. J., & Paratore, J. R. (1995). Using repeated reading to promote success in a heterogeneously grouped first grade. In K. A. Hinchman, D.J. Leu, & C.K. Kinzer (Eds.), Perspectives on literacy research and practice: Forty-fourth Yearbook of the National Reading Conference (pp. 255-263). Chicago: The National Reading Conference.

VanWagenen, M. A., Williams, R. L., & McLaughlin, T. F. (1994). Use of assisted reading to improve reading rate, word accuracy, and comprehension with ESL Spanish-speaking students. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 79, 227-230.

Weinstein, G., & Cooke, N. L. (1992). The effects of two repeated reading interventions on generalization of fluency. Learning Disability Quarterly, 15, 21–28.

Wixson, K.K. (1986). Vocabulary instruction and children’s comprehension of basal stories. Reading Research Quarterly, 21(3), 317-329.

IRA members can view the digital issue here to read Shanahan’s piece and more. If you aren’t an IRA member, information about how to join can be found here.

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