Q&A with Dr. Lynn Fuchs
Dr. Lynn Fuchs, Professor of Special Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, answers questions about fluency, progress monitoring, reading intervention, and more.
Lynn Fuchs is the Nicholas Hobbs Professor of Special Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, where she also co-directs the Kennedy Center Reading Clinic. She has conducted programmatic research on assessment methods for enhancing instructional planning and on instructional methods for improving reading and math outcomes for students with learning disabilities. For more information, visit Dr. Fuchs' academic website.
Is regular classroom instruction beneficial to a student that is far below grade level in reading?
If a child has been identified as having a learning disability and is currently receiving special education for reading, math, writing, and language development, how should this be placed within a school wide reading framework? Specifically, should this child in the classroom during core reading time even though the core reading curriculum is far above his instruction level? I believe the child should be given curriculum at his instructional level rather than spending valuable time in a classroom that does not fully address his instructional needs for reading.
Also, what is the best way to measure progress if the child is reading below two grade levels? The classroom teacher and special ed teacher believe that they need to administer the DIBELS progress monitoring passages at his grade level even though these passages are much to difficult for him to read and do not provide much information.
We have research to indicate that when a student is performing below the level of the reading instruction being delivered in the general education program, the classroom program has little effect on the target student. Instead, tutoring accounts for the student's growth. Therefore, when classroom instruction is not aligned to the skill level of the target student, I don't think it's necessary for the student to be in the classroom for reading instruction. It's better to maximize time in tutoring. (If, on the other hand, classroom instruction can be aligned to the student's needs in meaningful ways, there is evidence, at least in math, to suggest that the student benefits from participating both in the general education program as well as tutoring. Even then, however, the tutoring program accounts for the greater amount of progress.)
A student's ongoing progress monitoring (i.e., weekly or biweekly assessment) should be conducted at instruction level, not grade-appropriate material. (For benchmarking [i.e., 3-4 times per year], measurement should occur at both levels.)
How can data from Mazes be used in goal setting for progress monitoring?
Do you have any ideas or information about expected growth in Mazes per grade which could be used in goal setting for progress monitoring?
I recommend Maze fluency for students performing at least at a fourth-grade level. Contact Flora Murray for norms to use in goal setting.
How long should an intervention program be implemented if there is little apparent progress?
How long should an intervention be tried with little or no progress? Also, should two interventions be tried at the same time if both are beneficial and the student is progressing? Isn't the whole point progress?
Based on our research and others' research, we recommend 10-20 weeks of a validated tutoring program. We don't generally recommend two programs at the same time because (a) due to costs, reduces the number of students who can be tutored successfully and (b) it's possible that the two tutoring programs use different sequences/methods, which may be counterproductive.
Are there any progress monitoring tools available for secondary students?
There seem to be few commercial progress monitoring tools available for secondary students. What are the names of any existing tools that progress monitor in the areas of reading and math for grades 9-12? Do you know if any other tools are coming available in the near future for this same population?
You're right. There are few commercial programs for progress monitoring at the secondary level, although a few do go through grade 7 in reading or through algebra and geometry in math. I suggest you go to the tools chart on National Center on Student Progress Monitoring or National Center on Response to Intervention for options. Again, there are not many.
What is the difference between special education and RTI?
My daughter is reading below grade level and she is the second grade. I was told that her reading level will be a level L in June. Her peers will be on level N. She is receiving RTI. What is the difference between special education and RTI? How long does NCLB give a school to get a child on grade for reading and math?
RTI has three distinct levels of services: the general education program, small-group tutoring conducted using the resources and personnel available in general education, and more intensive tutoring usually conducted with the resources available in special education. So, special education is a level of services provided within an RTI prevention system. NCLB provides schools until spring of 2014 for all students to achieve AYP (annual yearly progress) in reading and math.
How important is fluency?
If a child has good comprehension, but is not reading at grade level fluency, should working on fluency be the primary focus? Can any child's reading can be fully remediated regardless of the severity of their disability?
I think it makes sense to work on reading fluency even when a student has strong comprehension because reading fluently can help a student achieve well in the content areas and more learning more efficient.
Research has not established that every student can be taught to read at acceptable levels. Presently, estimates are that, with excellent and highly intensive reading intervention, approximately 98% of the population (not including students with severe cognitive impairment) can be taught to read.
What assessments are the best cocktail for progress monitoring and benchmark assessment?
I am a reading specialist and I teach in an elementary school. We began a 3 tier model of support last year. My question is about assessment. What assessments are the best cocktail for progress monitoring and benchmark assessment? We use DIBELS and CORE.
The tools chart on National Center on Student Progress Monitoring or National Center on Response to Intervention provides technical information, in a consumer report format, on progress monitoring and screening assessments that (a) have been submitted for technical review and (b) for which the authors/vendors agreed to have the results posted.
How can parents and caregivers help prepare children for a Kindergarten Readiness Assessment?
What are the best things that parents and caregivers can do to help prepare their children to succeed on a Kindergarten Readiness Assessment - specifically in terms of early literacy?