Self-perceptions of elementary school children with word -level reading problems
This study examined the learning profiles of a group of fifth- and sixth-grade students in New York City to investigate the effects of early and appropriate interventions and supports on the self-perceptions of children who struggled to read. The longitudinal, descriptive study followed 25 children, about half of whom were low scoring on a kindergarten reading skills screen, for 7 years.
Qualitative data emerged from student interviews, student questionnaires, anecdotal observations, and participation in an optional academic enrichment program offered by the school. Quantitative data included group means from test results on 3 different instruments: Early Reading Screening (ERS; Uhry, 1993), Gates-MacGinitie Reading tests (Salvia & Ysseldyke, 1988), and Educational Records Bureau (ERB; CTP III, 1995). A case study of a learning disabled student was embedded within the larger study as an illustrative and slightly more detailed example of the issues being addressed.
Three hypotheses were generated from the data that emerged about this group: (1) Bright students whose disabilities or weaknesses are identified early and who are provided with appropriate services and supports will discover and use strategies to progress academically; (2) Bright students who struggle to learn to read, despite early and appropriate academic supports, develop negative self-perceptions that affect their feelings about themselves as students and the motivation needed for success later on; and (3) Relationships with peers and family influence and are affected by the lower self-perceptions of bright students who have struggled with reading acquisition.
This study concluded that while the academic progress of those children initially identified to be at risk for reading success increased impressively, in some cases nearly eliminating the gaps between them and their normally achieving classmates, their self-perceptions remained low. Despite academic supports and interventions, these children continued, even years later, to view themselves as weak, inferior students.
0529: Special education