The role of part-time special education supporting students with reading and spelling difficulties from grade 1 to grade 2 in Finland

Leena K. Holopainen et al, The role of part-time special education supporting students with reading and spelling difficulties from grade 1 to grade 2 in Finland (April 25, 2017). European Journal of Special Needs Education (2017). DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2017.1312798

The reading skills of children with reading and spelling difficulties (RSD) lag far behind the age level in the first two school years, despite special education received from special education teachers. Furthermore, the spelling skills of children who in addition to RSD had other learning difficulties also lagged behind their peers in the first two school years. Small group education and a moderate amount of part-time special education (approximately 38 hours per year) predicted faster skill development, whereas individual and a large amount of special education (more than 48 hours per year) were related to slower skill development and broader difficulties.

Dysfunction of Rapid Neural Adaptation in Dyslexia

Perrachione, Tyler K. et al. Dysfunction of Rapid Neural Adaptation in Dyslexia. Neuron, Volume 9 , Issue 6, 1383-1397, December 21, 2016. DOI:

This study suggests that people with the reading disability dyslexia may have brain differences that are surprisingly wide-ranging. Using specialized brain imaging, scientists found that adults and children with dyslexia showed less ability to "adapt" to sensory information compared to people without the disorder. And the differences were seen not only in the brain's response to written words, which would be expected. People with dyslexia also showed less adaptability in response to pictures of faces and objects. That suggests they have "deficits" that are more general, across the whole brain, said study lead author Tyler Perrachione. He's an assistant professor of speech, hearing and language sciences at Boston University. The findings offer clues to the root causes of dyslexia.

Identifying and supporting English learner students with learning disabilities: Key issues in the literature and state practice

Burr, E., Haas, E., and Ferriere, K. (July 2015). Identifying and supporting English learner students with learning disabilities: Key issues in the literature and state practice, U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, Regional Educational Laboratory at WestEd.

This review of research and policy literature — aimed at district and state policymakers — distills several key elements of processes that can help identify and support English learner students with learning disabilities. It also describes current guidelines and protocols used by the 20 states with the largest populations of English learner students. The report informs education leaders who are setting up processes to determine which English learner students may need placement in special education programs as opposed to other assistance. The report acknowledges that the research base in this area is thin.

Achievement Gap in Reading Is Present as Early as First Grade and Persists through Adolescence

Ferrer, E., Shatwitz, B.A., Holahan, J.M., Marchione, K.E., Michaels, R., and Shaywitz, S.E. (2015) Achievement Gap in Reading Is Present as Early as First Grade and Persists through Adolescence, Journal of Pediatrics, November 2015,167 (5):1121-1125.

The subjects were the 414 participants comprising the Connecticut Longitudinal Study, a sample survey cohort, assessed yearly from 1st to 12th grade on measures of reading and IQ. Statistical analysis employed longitudinal models based on growth curves and multiple groups. Results from the study indicated that as early as first grade, compared with typical readers, dyslexic readers had lower reading scores and verbal IQ, and their trajectories over time never converge with those of typical readers. Researchers concluded that the achievement gap between typical and dyslexic readers is evident as early as first grade, and this gap persists into adolescence. These findings provide strong evidence and impetus for early identification of and intervention for young children at risk for dyslexia. Implementing effective reading programs as early as kindergarten or even preschool offers the potential to close the achievement gap.

The State of Learning Disabilities

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) (2014). The State of Learning Disabilities (Third Edition). New York: NCLD

This report summarizes the latest facts, figures, and information about individuals with learning disabilities in the U.S. The report details basic statistics about learning disabilities, public perceptions, LD in schools and beyond school, and much more. The report also addresses several important issues for which more reliable data are urgently needed, including: Response to Intervention (RTI), Common Core State Standards and Assessments, online learning, Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM), charter schools, school vouchers and juvenile justice.

Improving Reading Outcomes for Students with or at Risk for Reading Disabilities

Connor, C., Alberto, P.A., Compton, D.L., and O'Connor, R.E. (February 2014) Improving Reading Outcomes for Students with or at Risk for Reading Disabilities: A Synthesis of the Contributions from the Institute of Education Sciences Research Centers, U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Special Education Research.

This report describes what has been learned about the improvement of reading outcomes for children with or at risk for reading disabilities through published research funded by the Institute of Education Science (IES). The report describes contributions to the knowledge base across four focal areas: assessment, basic cognitive and linguistic processes that support successful reading, intervention, and professional development.

On the Importance of Listening Comprehension

Hogan TP1, Adlof SM, Alonzo CN. (2014) On the importance of listening comprehension, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology June 16 (3):199-207.

The simple view of reading highlights the importance of two primary components which account for individual differences in reading comprehension across development: word recognition (i.e., decoding) and listening comprehension. This paper reviews evidence showing that listening comprehension becomes the dominating influence on reading comprehension starting even in the elementary grades. It also highlights a growing number of children who fail to develop adequate reading comprehension skills, primarily due to deficient listening comprehension skills (i.e., poor comprehenders). Finally we discuss key language influences on listening comprehension for consideration during assessment and treatment of reading disabilities.

Intact but Less Accessible Phonetic Representations in Adults with Dyslexia

Bart Boets et al. (2013) Intact But Less Accessible Phonetic Representations in Adults with Dyslexia. Science 6 December 2013: 342 (6163), 1251-1254. [DOI:10.1126/science.1244333]

People with dyslexia seem to have difficulty identifying and manipulating the speech sounds to be linked to written symbols. Researchers have long debated whether the underlying representations of these sounds are disrupted in the dyslexic brain, or whether they are intact but language-processing centers are simply unable to access them properly. This study indicates that dyslexia may be caused by impaired connections between auditory and speech centers of the brain. The researchers analyzed whether for adult readers with dyslexia the internal references for word sounds are poorly constructed or whether accessing those references is abnormally difficult. Brain imaging during phonetic discrimination tasks suggested that the internal dictionary for word sounds was correct, but accessing the dictionary was more difficult than normal.

Don't DYS Our Kids: Dyslexia and the Quest for Grade-Level Reading Proficiency

Fiester, L. (2012). Don't DYS Our Kids: Dyslexia and the Quest for Grade-Level Reading Proficiency. Commissioned by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation in partnership with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

About 2.4 million children across the nation have been diagnosed with learning disabilities — but how successful is the U.S. education system in teaching these students to read? This new report provides a far-reaching overview of the history and progress in understanding and meeting the needs of children with dyslexia, as well as the persisting challenges that must be overcome, to ensure that all students can read proficiently by the third grade. The report also highlights best practices and examples of solutions that are already working in communities. Based on interviews with nearly 30 experts, the report includes a collection of recommended actions for advancing this movement.

Human Voice Recognition Depends on Language Ability

Perrachione, T., Stephanie Del Tufo, S., Gabrieli, J. Human Voice Recognition Depends on Language Ability. Science 29 July 2011: 595.

The ability to recognize people by their voice is an important social behavior. Individuals differ in how they pronounce words, and listeners may take advantage of language-specific knowledge of speech phonology to facilitate recognizing voices. Impaired phonological processing is characteristic of dyslexia and thought to be a basis for difficulty in learning to read. The researchers tested voice-recognition abilities of dyslexic and control listeners for voices speaking listeners’ native language or an unfamiliar language. Individuals with dyslexia exhibited impaired voice-recognition abilities compared with controls only for voices speaking their native language. These results demonstrate the importance of linguistic representations for voice recognition. Humans appear to identify voices by making comparisons between talkers' pronunciations of words and listeners' stored abstract representations of the sounds in those words. Related article: Study Sheds Light on Auditory Role in Dyslexia.

Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision

American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Ophthalmology, Council on Children with Disabilities et al. (2009). Pediatrics 2009;124;837-844; originally published online Jul 27, 2009. Retrieved January 7, 2010 from

This joint statement of pediatric ophthalmologists and pediatricians concerned with learning disabilities states: most experts believe that dyslexia is a language based disorder. Vision problems can interfere with the process of learning; however, vision problems are not the cause of primary dyslexia or learning disabilities. Scientific evidence does not support the efficacy of eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses for improving the long-term educational performance in these complex pediatric neurocognitive conditions. Diagnostic and treatment approaches that lack scientific evidence of efficacy, including eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses, are not endorsed and should not be recommended.

Dissecting Dyslexia

May, T.S. (2006). Dissecting Dyslexia. BrainWork, the Neuroscience Newsletter from the Dana Foundation.

Genetic differences in the brain make learning to read a struggle for children with dyslexia. Luckily, most of our brain development occurs after we're born, when we interact with our environment. This means that the right teaching techniques can actually re-train the brain, especially when they happen early.

Remediation Training Improves Reading Ability of Dyslexic Children

Trei, L. Remediation Training Improves Reading Ability of Dyslexic Children. Stanford Report, 25 May 2003.
For the first time, researchers have shown that the brains of dyslexic children can be rewired — after undergoing intensive remediation training — to function more like those found in normal readers.

Progress in Understanding Reading: Scientific Foundations and New Frontiers

Stanovich, Keith E. (2000). Progress in understanding reading: Scientific foundations and new frontiers. New York: Guilford Press.

From a nationally known expert, this volume summarizes the gains that have been made in key areas of reading research and provides authoritative insights on current controversies and debates. Each section begins with up-to-date findings followed by one or more classic papers from the author's research program. Significant issues covered include phonological processes and context effects in reading, the "reading wars" and how they should be resolved, the meaning of the term "dyslexia," and the cognitive effects and benefits of reading.

Repeated Reading and Reading Fluency in Learning Disabled Children

Rashotte, C. & Torgesen, J. (1985). Repeated reading and reading fluency in learning disabled children. Reading Research Quarterly, 20, 180-188.

This study investigated whether improved fluency and comprehension across different stories in repeated reading depend on the degree of word overlap among passages and whether repeated reading is more effective than an equivalent amount of nonrepetitive reading. Non-fluent, learning disabled students read passages presented and timed by a computer under three different conditions. Results suggest that over short periods of time, increases in reading speed with the repeated reading method depend on the amount of shared words among stories, and that if stories have few shared words, repeated reading is not more effective for improving speed than an equivalent amount of nonrepetitive reading.

"A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom" —

Robert Frost