David Profitt Summary of Academic Case Study Internship: 2005-2006, Kettering City Schools Background Data/Local Norms For my academic case study, I worked with a first grade student, Taylor, in reading. When I first met Taylor, she was being referred for evaluation due to increasing, excessive reading difficulties. The team was concerned that Taylor didn’t understand the purpose of reading, nor the process of reading itself. Examples were given by the team showing that they believed Taylor did not realize that words would form sentences and that sentences should have meaning. Taylor’s classroom teacher was concerned that on some days Taylor could not even know the sound of all the letters. However, this inability seemed random, as there were occasional days when she could do this task. These were referred to as her “on” days. I met with Taylor’s teacher to discuss her overall goals for her students in reading. Mrs. X stated that by March, her students should be able to identify 20 unique words per minute in scaled DRA readings (pre-created for the students reading level in specially designed, graded books). This class uses DRA assessments to measure the reading progress of all students. Students are progressing through the DRA curriculum and are expected to be at Level F by the mid point of the first grade year. This class also uses DIBELS scores to assess student need. DIBELS scores are taken three times per year. In discussing “fluency”, the classroom teacher and I agreed that fluency is defined as reading with no more than 2 errors or 5+ second hesitations per 30 seconds of reading. In addition, Students who do now know a word will recognize that they have erred and will use the word attack skills they have been taught to decipher the word. Recognizing the error means that students will recognize when they have not correctly identified a word (rather than just filling in an obviously incorrect word and moving on) and will use their taught skills to decipher the word. For the purpose of this case study, I counted every uniquely identified word as a correct word and used simple math to come up with a unique words per minute score. Having decided what goals were acceptable for the class as a whole, I referred to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to see what tasks would be required of students who are to read fluently at a first grade level. The ODE breaks down the task analysis as follows: Pre-Kindergarten Skills: 1. Identify matching sounds and rhymes in familiar story or poem passages and songs. 2. Identify sounds in words by isolating their syllables using snapping, clapping or rhythmic movement (e.g., cat, cher-ry). 3. Be able to distinguish sounds that are different (e.g., environmental sounds, animal sounds, phonemes). 4. Recognize words which share phonemes and repeat the common phoneme (e.g., /b/ as in Bob, ball, baby; /t/ as in Matt, kite, boat). 5. Identify and list some upper and lower case letters in addition to those in the child’s first name. 6. Understand that words are made up of letters. Kindergarten Skills: 1. Identify and complete rhyming words and patterns. 2. Count the number of syllables in words by using clapping, snapping or counting. 3. Recognize and name all upper- and lower-case letters. 4. Recognize, say and write the common sounds of letters. 5. Recognize that words are separated by spaces; individual letters are not. 6. Hear and repeat the separate phonemes in words; identify the initial consonant sound in a word and blend phonemes to say words. Grade 1 Skills: 1. Identify and differentiate among letters, words and sentences. 2. Identify and repeat the beginning and ending sounds in words. 3. Demonstrate an understanding of letter-sound correspondence by saying the sounds from all letters and from a variety of letter patterns, such as consonant blends and long-and short-vowel patterns, and by matching sounds with their corresponding letters. 4. Decode using letter-sound matches. 5. Use knowledge of common word families (e.g., -ite or -ate) to sound out new words. 6. Blend up to four phonemes into words. 7. Add, delete or replace sounds in a word to create new or rhyming words. Having decided what Mrs. X’s goals were for her class, and how she defined these goals, and having decided what the ODE stated were the steps required for students in reading, I polled the class to get an overall picture of their current standing. In Early November, DRA style probes were administered on three occasions to determine the mean academic level of the class as a whole as well as the academic level of the target student. These were compared to DIBELS scores to get a picture of the class and to add extra confirmation to the accurate ranking of the DRA scores. Mrs. X agreed that the DRA probe scores were “right on.” After the implementation of the intervention, weekly DRA charting was used to chart the progress of the target student. In addition to regular polling of the target student, DRA data was polled from the class in its entirety on two additional occasions: Early December, and Early January. Results of the Initial November polling as well as the subsequent monthly polling are shown below: Problem Identification, Baseline and Analysis Based on the results of the DRA probing one student not currently on an IEP was identified for intervention (Taylor). Because of the severe discrepancy this student showed compared to her peers, she was referred for official evaluation (MFE) at the same time the intervention project was started. She did not qualify for special education services except under Speech and Language. Taylor’s academic concerns were identified and operationally defined using class goals and the DRA developed local norms. Taylor’s goal was agreed upon by the team and stated as follows: Taylor will be able to read fluently with six unique words per minute out of the Level D book by March 1, 2006. This will be below the rest of the class, but considered quite an accomplishment for Taylor, and will involve her beginning to improve at a rate comparable to her peers. It will also involve bringing her to a level commensurate with the original November level of over half of her peers. Baseline was established based on the three DRA probes of the class as a whole. Taylor scored three successive scores of 0 (zero) on these probes. Monitoring was continued throughout the intervention process. Because of Taylor’s lower performance level, error analysis was done concerning how Taylor was reading. These skills would then be addressed in the intervention. This was done through a direct observation of the skills she employed when attempting to read from books found in her classroom curriculum. A list of the types of errors she made was created. It was decided that: Taylor knew what a book was and what a book was for. Taylor knew where the title of a book was and where the story was found in the book. Taylor stated that she reads at home but that she usually has to read alone. Specifically in reading, Taylor: Does not recognize the concept of “silent E” or the combinations of two vowels together. Taylor confuses “th” for “sh” Confuses the letters J and G. Confuses “ch” for “sh” at the end of a word. Struggles with vowels if they start a word. Taylor otherwise can usually tell you the beginning sounds of words, but typically can not progress beyond this sound. She does not remember words she has been told immediately before (ie – the word reappears shortly, and again, she does not know it). She relies heavily on picture cues, and will insert words based on the cues, even if the actual word is spelled very differently. She will also be able to tell you how the word she uses should start to be spelled (what letter it should start with) but does not seem to apply this rule to the printed word to see if it would fit. If Taylor uses words that do not work or make sense, she just goes on and doesn’t seem to notice the absurdity of her sentence with the incorrect words. Taylor seems to get stuck on small words *cup, pup, we, our* as well as bigger words. Taylor seems to attempt to sound out bigger words as well as smaller words. There seems to be little connection to word size, at least within the confines of the simpler words used in her reading level books. Even though she sounds out parts of the words, she is unable to put them together to make the whole word. In addition to the skills analysis above, a performance analysis was conducted using record reviews, teacher interview, parent interview, and student interview. Because Taylor was also undergoing an MFE evaluation, extensive research was put into her case. There were no notable family medical histories, vision difficulties, or hearing difficulties discovered in this process. It was noted that Taylor’s parents were working through separation and custody issues. Taylor’s mother worked nights, so Taylor spent much time alone and at a baby-sitter’s, often being awaken in the middle of the night to return home with her mother. Taylor seems to enjoy her classmates and teacher. She speaks positively of both. Observing Taylor in her classroom, I noted that Taylor seems to be more distracted than her peers, and is often told to “go here” to catch up. When others are looking at the board, Taylor is often looking elsewhere. When others are looking at their papers, working, Taylor is often looking around. This may be due to confusion as to what she is supposed to be doing on her papers. Taylor had decent KDI scores (104) but has not progressed as would be expected. She received Early Childhood Intervention Care services before Kindergarten. Taylor has received much one-on-one adult support during the past year. Hypothesis Testing It has been theorized by Taylor’s teacher and others who have worked with her that she can do more work than she is doing. It is thought that Taylor does not understand that a book is supposed to tell you something and that sentences are a combination of words which give information. This is evidenced in the fact that she does not seem to notice when she reads something incorrectly and it doesn’t make sense, and that she doesn’t question the validity of her explanation of what a word is based on what she knows about letters and sounds (For Example: she says the word is cup, but the word in question is spelled “sometime”). The hypotheses below were developed. 1. If Taylor recognizes that a guessed word does not make sense, she will work to correct the error and read the sentence correctly. 2. If Taylor is given a story with pictures, Taylor will use the pictures to guess at words, regardless of similarity of spelling. If Taylor does not have picture cues, she will instead work at and attempt to sound out unrecognized words. To test hypothesis #1, Taylor was given a story to read. When she came to a word she did not know, she would fill it in with a similar word (there were no pictures in this story, see #2) but the word substituted would often not make sense. Taylor filled in 4 nonsense words in the reading, creating four sentences that did not make sense when read as a whole. Hypothesis 1 was not supported. Taylor in fact does NOT correct words which do not make sense and try to find another word that would fit in the sentence. To test hypothesis #2, Taylor was given two equally leveled stories to read. For the first reading, Taylor was given the story with the pictures (the book itself) and Taylor would read inserting words that could be found in the picture for words she did not know. For example, she would say “pig” for the printed word “animals” because there was a large pig in the picture accompanying the text. Taylor made seven such substitutions on this reading On trial two, Taylor was given the same story, but this time, typed out on a piece of paper in large font. Here, Taylor did not make the same types of substitutions. Instead, Taylor would work on the word for a longer time, and if an incorrect word was made, it was considered a similar looking or sounding word. In every case, the substituted word started with the same sound as the unknown word. There were 4 such similar substitutions on this story. Hypothesis 2 was supported. Taylor did in fact use picture cues when they were available (not to her advantage) and would be forced to work harder to figure out unknown words if no picture cue was available. Her success rate wasn’t much better – but the words she chose show that she was at least trying, and she did have the beginning sounds correct, Also, she used these sounds to try to guess at a word (as apposed to using picture cues to try to guess at a word). Based on the results of the hypothesis testing, Taylor began intervention with reading. Because the hypothesis that she relies on pictures and as a result of having pictures and ignores spelling and word structure when guessing at a word proved true, a part of the readings Taylor would work with were plain text readings, taken from DRA leveled story books. Also, Taylor was reminded for every guessed “nonsense” word, that if it doesn’t make sense in the sentence, she should not use it, but instead should work to find another word. She also had an opportunity to use books with pictures (both types of readings were used in sessions) because she needs to see that the words she is using based on visible pictures are not the correct words. Intervention For the intervention, a goal statement was written. It read: Taylor will read at the DRA level C book with 6 unique words per minute fluency by March 1, 2006. Taylor will not utilize nonsense words, but will search for words that make sense in the paragraph or sentence and Taylor will use letter cues rather than picture cues to find the correct word. These goals were designed to attack the problem as described by the team. Taylor’s teacher agreed to the intervention method as described. Throughout, Mrs. X seemed happy that I was working with Taylor with books leveled according to the DRA program already in place in the school. Because the referral team was concerned that Taylor didn’t see the cohesiveness of sentences, the intervention requires the re-reading of any sentence which contains a word which requires assistance (to prevent the sentence from being left with a non-fluent break because of assistance). The entire format applied to the intervention was taken directly from two researched based intervention methods. Sentence Repeat and Word Attack Hierarchy are two of the Error Correction and Word Drill Techniques interventions found in The Savvy Teacher’s Guide: Reading Interventions that Work which was found at the download section of interventioncentral.org, a website for educators. The intervention’s procedure was agreed upon by Mrs. X and the rest of the team. As the intervention progressed, a weekly log was kept of my meetings with Taylor. This showed that, except when impossible (absences, vacation periods, etc.) the intervention was carried out as it was planned (at least twice per week). The log is as follows: Academic Case Study Intervention Integrity Checklist: Date intervention held – Minimum of 25 minutes reading time. Goal is twice per week (have offered three if I have time.) Lines separate weeks: 11/15/05 – first intervention session combined with hypothesis testing based on previous 11/17/05 observation. 11-18-05 11/22/05 – Student not available 11/24/05 – Thanksgiving Break! 11/29/05 12/01/05 12/06/05 12/08/05 12/13/05 12/15/05 12/16/05 12/20/05 – Christmas Break! 12/22/05 – Christmas Break! 12/27/05 – Christmas Break! 12/29/05 – Christmas Break! 01/04/06 01/05/06 01/10/06 (final probe ended up being taken at this session) 01/12/06 – Moved out of District! Total of 13 intervention sessions over 6 school weeks/ 9 real world weeks. Evaluation and Recommendations Taylor’s intervention progress was monitored with a DRA probe once per week and plotted on the above chart. As can be seen, Taylor began to make improvement after the second week of intervention. From this point, she progressed at the rate desired. Taylor’s intervention ended earlier than hoped because she moved out of the district. However, in the 7 weeks of the intervention, Taylor improved her reading. She started reading 0 (zero) unique words per minute and ended reading 3.04 unique words per minute, with regular improvement over the previous five weeks. In addition to the limited unique words per minute score, Taylor has gone from reading 0 words from a DRA level 3 book (no matter how much time given) to reading 22 unique words from a DRA level 4 (one level harder) during the course of the intervention. It takes her a while to sound things out, and for this reason, she scores low when considering unique words per minute. Additionally, Taylor has learned good habits, such as looking at letters and not pictures to help her with the word and restarting any sentence on which she struggles with a word, so that she can hear the entire sentence as it should sound. Further evidence of her progression can be seen in many positive teacher comments relating to her overall improvement in the classroom. These comments can be used to verify the overall effectiveness of the intervention on classroom performance. Because Taylor was going through the MFE process, the team was able to meet after two months of intervention to discuss her progress and agreed that she was doing much better than she had been previous to the intervention. Limitations associated with the intervention include the fact that Taylor did not have anyone to read with at home and therefore could not practice her skills outside of school with the aid of another. Because of this, there was the fear that she would become dependent on working with the tutor to know she is reading correctly. It was planned that the intervention would continue until March, as discussed in the goals. Further, it had been decided that Mr. Profitt would check with Taylor’s classroom teacher once a month for the remainder of the school year to check on Taylor’s continued progress in reading abilities. However, because Taylor has left the district, we will have to hope for the best for Taylor at her new school home.
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