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Kirstie Dela Cruz

HTH 103A: Theory of Reading


November 6, 2014
Case Study
For my final project, I chose Gina, an 11th grade student diagnosed with ADHD and
exhibits struggles in reading fluency and comprehension. Every Monday for the past few weeks,
I have been working with Gina within a small reading group, where we have been working on
creating an interest in reading, as well as improving reading comprehension, especially for
students with learning differences and English Learners. I chose to study this particular student,
not only because she is on my case load, but because her challenges are interesting to me.
When I was first introduced to Ginas case, I believed that her low ELA test scores were due to
the fact that she was an English Learner. But since observing her and her work in her Spanish
class, she also exhibits the same comprehension struggles in Spanish. She has not been
diagnosed with a specific learning disability, but since having seen her work and her low
performance in reading, I feel that she would be the best study for this project.

The presenting problem is her low reading fluency in English and, therefore, low
comprehension. After conducting an initial interview with Gina, she had admitted that she
believes Humanities to be her most difficult subject because of all the reading and her low
fluency and comprehension skills. However, I have also observed that she struggles with the
expository text in her science classes and her grade had dropped a bit due to having failed a
test. After asking her about the test, she admitted that maybe she had not read the questions
thoroughly or had not understood the questions. Without intervention for Gina, she will continue
to fail assignments and tests because of her struggles in reading. Reading is a big part of both
of these subjects and she will continue to perform poorly if she cannot comprehend the text. As
it is, she is in danger of having to repeat a grade if she does not keep her grades up, as her
previous grades are very low and she has had to make up classes every summer since she
began high school.

In regards to data, I have the results from her recent STAR Reading Test, taken via the
Renaissance Learning website. Her score was 2.8, meaning that as a student in her second
month of eleventh grade, she is currently reading at the equivalent of a student in the eighth

month of second grade. While this does not describe her overall ability in fluency and
comprehension, it does raise some flags as far as her general reading ability goes. Gina has
also taken the CELDT and has retaken the CAHSEE, but the results have yet to be posted. But
for this assignment, I feel that the STAR Reading should suffice for now.
According to Ginas STAR Reading Test, her Grade Equivalent reading score is 2.8,
which, as I mentioned before, is comparable to that of an average second grader after the
eighth month of the school year. Ginas score is in the first percentile of eleventh grade student
nationally, which is very much below average. According to Ginas Diagnostic Report, her score
indicates that she is starting to place less emphasis on identifying words and more emphasis on
trying to understand what she has read. The Diagnostic Report also states that Gina is probably
aware of her abilities (which she is) and shows interest in choosing books to read. Another
aspect of the Diagnostic Report is the explanation of Ginas Zone of Proximal Development
(ZPD). Ginas ZPD is 2.5-3.5, so she should be selecting books that are within these reading
levels in order to improve on her reading. These books will provide optimal reading challenge
without frustration, however, success at any level will also depend on Ginas interest in the
books content as well as her prior knowledge.
The STAR Diagnostic Report suggests the following techniques to help ensure Ginas
continued growth in reading in relation to her ZPD:

Guide reading practice so that [Gina] averages at least 85 percent on Accelerated


Reader Reading Practice Quizzes.

Once [Gina] is able to maintain an 85% average, encourage [her] to raise [her]
average to 90% or higher. High averages are associated with the greatest reading
gain.

Use the Accelerated Reader Diagnostic Report and Student Record Report for more
detailed information about the students reading practice.

Teach [Gina] how to select books throughout [her] ZPD.

Help [Gina] establish a minimum book level, minimum percent correct, and point goals
for each marking period.

The STAR Reading Diagnostic Report also suggests methods in which to promote
Ginas overall reading growth:

Maintain a minimum of 60 minutes of guided independent reading practice daily

Continue reading aloud and reading with others

Develop additional strategies for acquiring vocabulary in context

Also, because Ginas reading level was below the 25th percentile for her grade
placement, the Diagnostic report also suggested these action items:

Have [Gina] spend more time reading to and reading with a fluent partner every day

Actively involve parents, paraprofessionals, and volunteers to act as tutors

Increase both oral and independent reading practice time

Further assess the nature of the reading difficulty

Aside from the formal assessments, in the form of standardized tests, I also have work
samples from the work that we have been doing weekly in our Reading Club. Every Monday, we
have been reading the graphic novel, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, in a small group. Because
there are quite a few students within this group with reading fluency and comprehension issues,
I have them all take turns reading aloud. So far, this has helped them not only remove the
anxiety from having to read independently, but also allows them a safe space where they can
ask clarifying questions if there is something they do not understand. Another that this group
reading format has worked is that the students who are having fluency issues can hear from
their peers how certain words are pronounced before they are asked to read. Already, Ive
noticed a small improvement to Ginas fluency. It has been a slow, gradual progression, but
progress nonetheless. I have also collected reflections on the reading every week to assess her
comprehension. Her answers have been very short and some of the answers have shown that
she might not be fully understanding what is happening within the text. What Ive seen is that
she writes about the last event in the story that we had read about. This is evidence of, perhaps,
a memory issue; for example, maybe she is not retaining information as well as she should be.
This could be an issue because it would be extremely difficult to claim that one has full
comprehension of a text if one cannot even remember all the key facts.

My own, personal suggestions for intervention are very similar to those suggested on the
STAR Reading Diagnostic Report. I would continue to have her read aloud in the small group to
improve her fluency. I would also create some graphic organizers for her based on whatever
text she happens to be reading in class in order to promote growth in comprehension. I would
also attempt to find the texts in audio format in both English and Spanish. Perhaps if she
receives the information audially, it may lessen the anxiety and she can comprehend better.
However, I would not suggest this as a replacement for reading actual text, simply a supplement
to the reading. It may be a good idea to suggest further assessment regarding her processing
skills, because she may have an additional learning disability aside from the ADHD, which is
often the case.

In order to check if my interventions are effective, I would continue to have her do the
STAR Reading test twice a semester: once at the beginning and once towards the end. The
Renaissance Learning website does a wonderful job of charting out the progress of a student
across the all the different administrations of the test. I would also continue asking her to write
reflections on her readings so that I could continue to assess for progress in her comprehension
skills. Fluency can be tracked, perhaps, by any one of the assessments that we had gone over
in class. Perhaps the DIBELS, since she is reading at a very low reading level, would be
appropriate in this particular scenario. I could also keep a journal or a chart that could track
mistakes made while reading aloud. This would be another way to check for improvement in
fluency.

Overall, I felt that this project was a way to better organize a plan for Gina and how I
could further assist her with her reading. As an Inclusion Specialist, much of these interventions
are part of my everyday job, anyway, but having to focus on one particular student in such a
way has allowed me to see how I could also assist other students by following these methods.
For Gina, I feel that doing this project was especially useful for her because she is so far behind
and at risk of repeating a grade. In the end, I feel that I am more equipped to assist Gina and
hopefully see a greater improvement in her reading ability.