Questions From The Field: Reading Intervention Programs & Coaches In The Classroom

A reader writes in with some good questions about reading intervention programs:

"I've been teaching for just under 2
years and haven't really heard or seen anything in Chicago to help
those struggling readers, like Reading Recovery.  Has Chicago ever had
a program like that?  I teach 5th grade and it seems so many readers
get pushed along without intervention, and with 35 kids in my class, I
can't single them out as often as they need it. 

Also, is it city-wide that reading coaches don't do much coaching
other than for extended responses?  In my last school, we had 2 reading
coaches, and neither of them EVER demonstrated how to teach reading
strategies to the teachers, nor did they ever really do anything with
the kids.  Often, they were misused as substitute teachers.  How common
is this?"

Got any advice or experiences to share?  In the spirit of the holidays, let's try and skip the broad generalizations and give this teacher specifics from your own classrooms or schools.


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  • 10:31 may be a special education teacher. The highly individualized reading programs such as Wilson are very expensive, but at least for students with learning disabilities that do not not have full scale IQs below 65 they are often effective. I have reservations about IQ testing in general, but it is used in most serious research. Currently some work is being done with federal funding on reading improvement for students with cognitive disabilities, but none of the more popular reading programs as yet reflect that research.

    Cove School on the North Shore uses these types of highly individualized reading supports and costs $32,330 for this school year.

    But it needs to be understood that no single reading method will be effective for all students with learning disabilities, ADD, or even struggling non-disabled students. Most students with reading problems will benefit from the application of a variety of methods. Teachers need a repertoire of instructional methods. To do this as one poster has correctly stated a teacher needs one on one time with students along with whole class reading instruction.

    One of the reasons upper income parents of CPS students who have learning disabilities go to due process against the district is to get these supports for their children outside of the school district. In general the CPS loses these cases because it can not demonstrate it has highly individualized reading programs for students with learning disabilities. In many cases over the years I have been working in this field CPS has paid the full tution for these kids at Cove School, including transportation to and from Chicago to the North Shore. The CPS has not done this because they are being nice, it has paid out these kind of dollars because as a school system it lacks effective consistent individualized reading programs for students identified with disabilties.

    There are situations where a particular school has an amazing special education teacher with a more limited case load who can efffectively implement a reading program for a student. But with the current staffing cuts these situations are very rare in the school district currently.

    But to win a due process case on the failure of CPS to appropriately address reading deficits for students with LD requires skilled legal support and to tell the truth money to pay for these legal supports. I have been involved in such litigation and the average case can involve 100 hours of work, if there is an appeal to the US District Court we are talking many more hours.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living of Metro Chicago

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