Do you have a Maria in your district?

October 23, 2019 By Sarah Williamson
Struggling Reader

Maria is a struggling reader. Like 66 percent of the ninth graders across our nation, she is reading significantly below grade level proficiency. And every year that Maria goes to school, the gap between her and her on-track peers gets wider and wider. If her reading skills are not addressed, she is at serious risk of either dropping out or falling so far behind that she never graduates. She is already concerned about graduating because she has failed two classes.

Nearly every district has a student like Maria. Struggling students face considerable and diverse barriers to success, and students struggle with grade-level curriculum for a wide range of reasons, but particularly because they are below-proficient readers, English language learners or students with learning gaps.

How do we support Maria and other struggling readers?

With a national graduation rate of 84 percent, it may seem like the vast majority of our students are succeeding, but there are still many students, like Maria, who struggle every day to achieve at grade level. The good news is there are opportunities to support these struggling students with curriculum that provides the scaffolds and supports they need right when they need them. For example, Maria was struggling in Algebra I because she did not have the prerequire skills to understand grade level content and she had serious gaps in her foundational knowledge. She needed instruction that was unique to her individual needs to be successful in Algebra as well as reading supports to ensure she understood the content.

To address Maria’s missing credits in reading and math, she was placed in a credit recovery program. For Maria, it was important for the curriculum to include reading supports along with the instruction. She would not be successful with just a video lecture. For Maria to learn best, she needs support in not only understanding the content she is learning, but also the material she is reading.  

Effective instruction provides the crucial support that a struggling reader needs. For Maria, it is the chunked instruction, written slightly below grade level, and reading comprehension strategies that are contextually appropriate, that enables her to make sense of the content. She went on to pass both classes, and is on track to graduate with her classmates.

How Apex Learning can help

At Apex Learning, we know the implementation of several evidence-based strategies can improve students’ ability to read and understand complex, grade-level texts. Below proficient readers need help understanding individual words and, most importantly, broader reading comprehension.

Apex Learning uses evidence-based, classroom practices that are proven to effectively improve reading achievement, including: providing explicit vocabulary instruction; direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction; intensive and individualized interventions for struggling readers; increasing student motivation and engagement in literacy learning; reading a variety of texts and analyzing them across a variety of disciplines; building  background knowledge through exposure to rich content; and teaching students, through modeling and direct instruction, to monitor their comprehension while reading. Learn more about how we can help your below proficient readers:  https://www.apexlearning.com/resources/white-papers/201901/special-report-unlock-success-below-proficient-readers.

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