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Support Services

By: Diane Henry Leipzig
First and foremost, struggling readers need excellent reading instruction from their classroom teachers in order to overcome their difficulties. Many schools are also equipped to provide extra help to the children who need it.

Individual students who are struggling with reading may be eligible to receive supplemental instruction from special educators, ESL teachers, or reading specialists. In addition, individual schools may be eligible for Title I funding, which can be used to provide extra help to struggling students.

Schools are required by law to provide special education to students with disabilities (including learning disabilities), and some form of support for English language learners.

Here is an overview of the support services that may be available at your child's school:

  • Special education

    Children who are struggling to learn to read may have a disability that is causing or exacerbating their struggle. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children who are identified as having a disability are eligible for special education services. Special education teachers can work with classroom teachers to promote reading success for children who have disabilities.

  • Reading specialists

    Many schools have reading specialists who may have obtained advanced degrees and certification in teaching reading. They may assess students, meet with individual students to provide remedial instruction, or work with classroom teachers to provide in-class support. Many reading specialists (sometimes hired as reading coaches or reading coordinators) serve as instructional leaders in their schools, providing professional development, materials, and leadership to classroom teachers.

  • Title I

    Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act offers supplementary instruction and other services to over 6.4 million children in high-poverty schools in more than 14,000 school districts across the United States. High-poverty schools can apply for Title I funds to provide extra help to children who are failing or are at risk of failing.

  • English as a second language

    Under Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, children who are learning English as a second language are eligible for support services. There are many different approaches to ESL instruction, ranging from English-only instruction to bilingual education.

Diane Henry Leipzig (2001)

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