The student who participated in this assessment is called Martin who attends Junee Public School. He is a 10- year old (born in 2005) who is in his fourth year in a composite class of 3/4 .The students in Martin’s class are below their stage levels in both maths and English.
His parents have tried to get assistance for him by visiting speech pathology, occupational therapy, paediatrician review, and he has undergone several tests in the respective visits to find out a solution for him. Sadly, through these different sessions, he still has a mildly expressive language delay, learning disabilities and scores a low average range in intellectual and cognitive functioning skills.
His teacher affirmed that he is a visual learner and that he does not listen to verbal instructions properly or efficiently. The teacher also said that Martin has a very limited attention span, therefore, making it very difficult to keep him engaged.
His profile listed some of the following details which could influence greatly in his results in reading:
- Martin wears glasses for long-sightedness but only does this occasionally
- He has history of pica and sensory issues
- He was diagnosed with mild expressive language delay in which he has been seen by the speech pathologist and occupational therapist
- He was assessed by the school counsellor in the form of a WISC-IV and WIAT testing which showed that his general intellectual functioning is in the extremely low range, with a score of less than 1%.
- His communication skills are suitable, and he engages and interacts appropriately. However, he has poor attentions span and suffers from poor grades especially in maths and English.
- On the scales, his scores were elevated for lack of attention as well as hyperactivity.
- Martin has a learning disability due to his low general intellectual functioning.
- Martin has help learning support, reading recovery and a learning plan at school.
About reading in English, Martin has difficulties with reading and finding words. Martin showed in a recent report card an overall D (basic) in English, and it was noted in the comments that he often loses meaning with proper nouns. Martin’s teacher mentioned to me that he uses a mixed range of strategies, chunking especially. However, I was also told that the more he struggled, the more he becomes unengaged and focused and therefore stops trying to make meaning of words. This was evident during the sessions of assessments I had with him as he began to simply avoid words rather than trying to use the strategies that he actually knows of.
I developed a strategy after assessment of his situation to divide the tasks in short sessions that lasted less than 20 minutes as opposed to a whole hour. I also made him love me and the assessment as well. I was however curious to find out what he did at night because I thought that maybe there is a linkage of poor rest with the results. This I did with an aim of unwinding any stumbling block that would hinder positive outcomes. I also thought of creating a routine for him daily in order to condition the brain on better training. Lastly, I was keen to develop for him a specific subject of study with its specific time. I really wanted him to have a goal, instead of developing an attitude, for example when doing math and reading as well.
For all the measurements listed in the table below, Martin falls under the well below benchmark for all except for his retell quality of response. Although his retell quality was only below, it likely needed a little of strategic support. Each of his individual retells needs intensive support and added detail and information. His score levels for all of them fell upon the well below benchmark score level. This result shows that he needs intensive support. Students having scores below the cut point for risk are identified as likely to need intensive support (Dynamic Measurement Group, 2010.) The document ‘DIBELS Next Benchmark Goals and Composite Score’ (Dynamic Measurement Group, 2010) mentions that intensive support may entail giving the student more instruction time and practice, giving the student instructions in a smaller group, showing smaller skill steps in instructional hierarchy, explicit modelling and instructions, more use of scaffolding and the opportunity to practice (Caldwell, 2007).It further suggests that students in need intensive support are likely to sometimes have individual unique needs (Dynamic Measurement Group, 2010)
The Daze Assessment:
This is assessment’s main purpose is to measure the reasoning processes constituting comprehension. This is particularly seen during Daze’ assessment of the student’s ability to construct meaning from texts using word recognition skills, background information, prior knowledge, familiarity with linguistic properties as syntax and morphology, and reasoning skills (Dynamic Measurement Group, 2012). Martin found the Daze assessment difficult as he struggled reading the sentence on his own. He had to read it out loud and I patiently had to assist him read. When he came across words he didn’t know I started to tell him what the words were and meant. This I did for both the words in and outside the boxes. For example, he really struggled reading ‘The Lizard store’ and he only covered a couple of the boxes. I noticed too that he was struggling to focus on the work. Martin relied a lot on me to help him and appeared to make an angry face when he got stuck.
DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency (DORF)
DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency (DORF) is a measure of advanced version of phonics ,word attack skills, accurate and fluent reading of connected text, and reading comprehension (Dynamic Measurement Group,2012).The purpose of DIBELS includes identification of students who may be at risk of difficulty in reading, to help teachers to identify areas to target their support in giving instructions, to monitor the progress of the students at risk as they receive specific remedies, and to examine the effectiveness of the instructions. This test In reference to Martin had difficulty and only managed to read 30 words per story. The errors made were not high frequent words that he hadn’t come across in his level of reading and the texts that Martin read were beyond his reading level. Martin particularly found the story ‘The power of Magnets’ difficult and while reading it he relied on me to help him. The teacher explained to me that as soon as Martin finds it difficult to read, he loses interest and becomes off task.
I noticed that Martin needs to be given special attention and needs a special tutor who is patient enough. In Martin’s eyes, I saw a need to talk to the parents to play a role in helping him to focus on the regular reading of interesting stories and to build more confidence. I also saw a need to have practical sessions of observational learning with him to build the confidence that is required for self-identification. Regarding memory, he had a remarkable reasoning that needs to be improved (Wiederholt & Blalock, 2000). I wrote down in a plan to help him by talking to his teacher to speak positively about the tasks and assignments given to him to improve his confidence.
Evaluation of student’s performance
I asked Martin to start the Primary Phonics Assessment by asking him to read the first 28 words. However, he could not continue with the assessment as he could not get the first 10 words right. He was only able to read 8 words correctly out of the first 28 words. He got impatient and became quite upset on how much he was struggling and literally stopped attempting words. He found it hard connecting the broken down words as well as the phonics sound and putting them together as a whole. For example, the words hope and hoping he’d answer ‘hop’ and stop. He also had difficulty in connecting the different sounds, especially when it came to the end of the sounds.
When it came to reading the regular words he appeared to be able to do it with ease and confidence, he read each word fluently and did not need to turn to strategies to assist him to read most of the words. The words that he was unsure of he skipped them and went on. There were three words that he did not answer these were mad, tag and stamp.
Multilist student performance summary
It was very hard to keep Martin engaged long enough to read a book. I specifically chose the book that they have been reading in the classroom. Martin is at a reading level of a year 2 level. Martin read the book ‘Fat Snake- think Snake’ (Greggory, 2004). Martin appeared to be engaged in the book. This was shown in his confidence while reading and the way he read the book. The further we got into the book; he appeared to become less engaged and started to skip words. Martin was showing initiative by using strategies for words that he struggled one of the main strategies which Martin is sounding out the words. Surprisingly, Martin only made 5 errors which he didn’t read. These errors ended up giving him a percentage of 90-95% which means that the book chosen was at his reading level 16. This meant that I did not need to continue testing.
The study session was successful, and the objectives were well covered and explored. It was amazing working with Martin through his difficulty to help him shape up for the future. One clear resolution I established is that he seemed to be under some pressure. Despite the fact that that I could not find out about his pressure state at the first time, I could easily tell from his stare whenever he had difficulty in reading. Martin participated in the assessment at ten years old while undertaking his fourth year in a composite class of 3/4. Martin’s fellow students were all below their stage levels in both English and Maths. There have been significant steps by his parents who have often tried to get him assistance by visiting speech pathology, paediatrician review, and occupational therapy. During the different visits, Martin has also undergone many tests aimed at finding out a solution for him.
Martin’s story is a vital lesson on the need of compassion and motivation from teachers by every student. Such acts of compassion could help them to survive through various challenges and difficulties. The strategy that I was able to develop after carrying out an assessment of Martin’s situation involved dividing the tasks into short sessions that lasted for just less than 20 minutes. I also created a bond between him and me, which made created love, good understanding, and positive assessment. I also carried out some findings out of curiosity to establish what he did at night since I had the thought that maybe there was a relationship between getting poor rest with the obtained results. In regards to memory, he had an outstanding reasoning ability that just needed a little more of improvement. I then wrote down a plan aimed at assisting him by having some discussions with his teacher. I suggested to the teacher to improve his confidence by speaking positively about the assignment and tasks given to him.
Various measurement scores were listed to determine Martin’s but his was below the benchmark for all except for his retell response quality. He still required some strategic support despite his retell quality being only below. There is also need for added detail information, and intensive support from his entire individual retells. The level of his score for all of them fell well below benchmark level. DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency (DORF) is a measure of word attack skills, advanced phonics, fluent reading of connected texts, and reading of comprehensions. The main purpose of DIBELS in this particular case is student identification. The students identified are those who are vulnerable and may be at risk of reading difficulties. This would enable the teachers to find out the key areas to put more efforts to support effectively through instructions. It would also help in the monitoring of the progress of the helpless students as they receive special remedies. Also, it would also help in the examination of the effectiveness of instructions
The choice of the book was a significant factor in the steps to help Martin. For instance, I particularly chose their class book. This is because it became very challenging to keep him engage for long during his readings despite his reading level of a year 2. Martin’s confidence is clearly seen during his reading of the book ‘Fat Snake- think Snake.’ He appeared to have full engagement in the book. The further we got into the book he appeared to become less engaged and started to skip words. Martin also showed positive improvement initiatives by using word strategies that further improved his skills as seen in his act of surrounding out the words. As a great sign of success, Martin only had five errors which were due to have missed to read. The errors ended up giving him a total of 90-95 percentage of which therefore meant that the chosen book was at his reading level 16 and also indicated no need for further testing.
Caldwell, J. S. (2007). Reading Assessment: A Primer for Teachers and Coaches. Solving Problems in the Teaching of Literacy. Guilford Publications.
Dynamic Measurement Group, Inc. (2010). DIBELS Next Benchmark Goals and Composite Score.
Dynamic Measurement Group, Inc. (2012). DIBELS Next Assessment Manual.
Gregory, C. (2004). Fat Snake – Thin Snake. Australia: Macmillian Education.
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Wiederholt, J. L. & Blalock, G. (2000). Gray Silent Readi