Reading research in the past three decades has confirmed the complex however symbiotic relationship that exists flanked by reading as well as writing plus oral language. developmental dyslexia, a failure to learn to read that is not due to brain injury, is now recognized as a problem in psycholinguistic processing. In this disorder, a deficit in phonological processing affects reading decoding, while deficits in syntax, semantics, vocabulary, as well as reading decoding negatively impact on reading comprehension. Reading deficits are known to profoundly retard vocabulary, verbal fluency, spelling, as well as general knowledge growth, plus are in addition highly prevalent. For instance, the American National Institute for Child Health and Human Growth has found that reading disabilities or dyslexia is the most prevalent neurobehavioral disorder in children (one in five), affecting both boys and girls nearly equally. (Alexander, 1999)
Reading disabilities do not represent a developmental lag, however rather a persistent deficit that begins in kindergarten as well as continues to adulthood, by means of lifelong serious emotional, psychological plus economic consequences. Alexander, 1999, for instance, has argued that dyslexia may represent the low end of a reading disabilities continuum rather than a separate disability, as they both stem as of a language system disorder, namely, the phonological system. Others have demonstrated that reading weaknesses can develop into dyslexia or a reading disability when neglected. Regardless of their origin, reading disabilities represent a pernicious as well as chronic problem that needs to be addressed. (Berninger, 2003)
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Learners by means of intrinsic chaos impinging on language and/or cognitive growth are the obvious reading disabilities victims, however less obvious are minority cluster plus minority language learners (Alexander, 1999) and those as of low socio-economic status families. In the population of children by means of significant reading disabilities, for instance, there is a disproportionate representation of children who are poor, racial minorities, as well as non-native speakers of English. A Canadian government survey of children plus youth conducted as of 1996 to 1997 corroborated those children in lower income families suffer as of higher frequencies of academic failure and grade retention. (Berninger, 2003)
Can reading disabilities be prevented?
Aided by advancements in technology, researchers around the globe, representing fields such as neuroscience, genetics, and psycholinguistics are now able to map out the neuro-anatomy of dyslexia. They have found that common brain areas are affected plus common deficits are present despite variations in the phonological structures of different languages. Non-invasive brain imaging techniques have shown that the brains of dyslexic individuals work differently as of those of good readers. An even further exciting discovery is that the brains of illiterate subjects show different resonancing images as of those of literate subjects. This suggests that the reading experience modifies brain activity. Indeed, literacy deprived environments, as well as inadequate instruction may actually underlie the growth of dyslexia, and behaviourally, these children would not be discriminated as of those by means of a genetic predisposition. Researchers have in addition hypothesized that that brain activity of dyslexics can be 'normalized through quality instruction'.
Researchers in dyslexia agree that reading competence is now further essential than ever, however, they have in addition given hope to many affected individuals and their families by emphasizing that treatment for reading disability is now available. Deficit strands that operate all through the continuum of reading disabilities have been identified plus it is now possible to predict at very young ages which children are at high risk for developing. (Berninger, 2003)
Typically, very young children by means of poor phonological processing as well as phonological awareness skills later comprise the reading disabled children in classrooms everywhere. However, early identification and intervention studies, both small and large scale, confirm that the course of reading disabilities can be reversed. (Berninger, 2003)
Alexander, (1999) points out that literacy is critical for achievement; however advances in technology plus the accompanying literacy exigencies make it difficult to predict our children's future literacy needs. Alexander, (1999) notes the pivotal role reading plays in our society as well as adds that even though the need for effective reading is essential, the number for whom learning to read is difficult, in both children plus adult populations, is larger than ever. These realizations resonate around the globe, and form the background for the present report. This outcomes study focuses on reading results of a three year prevention/intervention early reading project that was initiated for young kindergarten to grade 2 high-risk multilingual learners as of low socio-economic-status (SES) families, in an attempt to prevent dyslexia. (Berninger, 2003)
3. Dyslexia in the present study
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The use of the term dyslexia here is similar to that used by professionals in the United Kingdom. In this study dyslexia refers to serious reading plus writing difficulties in multilingual or minority language children as of low SES families, most of whom enter school by means of low levels of language of instruction proficiency and literacy experience. Scores of these learners do not reach literacy levels needed to meet high school academic demands. Generally, they cannot overcome these grave literacy problems devoid of specific intensive interventions. As these literacy deficits tend to persist as well as negatively impact on their academic journey, the children become functionally dyslexic, by means of deficits in phonological/phonemic growth, phrase recognition/decoding, speed, fluency, plus comprehension. Their deficits and their literacy course are behaviourally indistinguishable as of those by means of genetic based developmental dyslexia. The further severe of them and those that are fortunate enough to have been signalled to a school professional, occupy the similar special education classes, requiring the same tremendous amount of school resources, plus all the while exhibiting slow as well as laboured progress, as the genetic-based dyslexic learners. (Butler, 1998)
School & learner characteristics
The project elementary school, part of one of the largest English school boards on the island of Montreal, is located in an economically depressed region, largely made up of an immigrant and second generation multiethnic population. The school is hemmed in by large thoroughfares, railways, a large industrial zone, and an old quarry, making access difficult. English is the major language of instruction, plus French is taught as a second language, in a 50/50-immersion arrangement, starting as of kindergarten. Learners at this school are mainly as of families at the low end of the socio-economic spectrum as well as are non-native speakers of both school languages, English and French. Very few are 'recent immigrants'. Since of their low SES and non native
English language backgrounds2 these learners constitute a high-risk populace for growth of dyslexia plus academic distress. Indeed, reading disabilities and educational failure have traditionally plagued this school. Several learners do not acquire language and reading proficiency to a degree that productively supports an academic program, as well as up to graduation, many still remain at early phases in the reading plus writing developmental continua. (Butler, 1998)
The longitudinal study & outcomes research questions:
The early reading development was both 'an effort to catch them before they fall', that is, an attempt at avoidance of dyslexia and intervention for those who were evidently lagging behind their class peers. The development objectives included a results study. The entire kindergarten cohort formed the Treatment Cluster in this study. Learners who were as of a non-early reading kindergarten program and in grade 1 at the time the study was initiated formed the Comparison Cluster3. The outcomes study examined reading presentation of both the Treatment Cluster plus the Comparison Cluster at the end of their respective grades 1 and 2, and a sample of the comparison cluster was in addition examined at the end of their grade three. This study also shows the years as well as grades in which the two clusters were studied. The project focused on reading in English, the chief language of instruction in their academic setting.
Reading disabilities or reading incompetence's are often at the root of educational failure, behaviour disorders, plus early school dropout in schools around the globe. The Quebec Ministry of Education, for instance, has recognized the existence of this systemic reading pathology and its correlated increase in the number of functionally illiterate adults in Quebec society. The ministry's Educational Plan6 underscores the centrality of literacy acquisition in the new English Language Arts Program: "The new â€¦programme for the basic schools of Quebec is first and foremost a literacy program". Literacy is described as the crucial "medium that makes active participation in democratic life plus a pluralistic culture probable". (deMontfort, 2000)
The project and outcomes described here constitute an attempt at preventing dyslexia in high-risk multilingual learners, so that they too could be productive as well as active participants in our society. This project's merit lies in the fact that it attempted intervention across several grades rather than at one discreet point only. Eng, 2002 note that well designed and focused reading instruction during primary grades increases significantly high-risk learners' reading proficiency, and when intervention stops, early reading success begins to fade. This outcomes study lends further support to their findings. (Eng, 2002)
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Eng, 2002 conclude that, "For children who enter school by means of low levels of literacy, the ability to attain standards of highly proficient reading may depend on a series of differentiated interventions across the primary grades." even though intuitively sound, this conclusion merits investigation. Further research is needed to determine how long explicit reading teaching is required so that reading regression plus dyslexia are prevented in this population. In addition, further research is needed to determine what the best practices are for these learners at each growthal level. As Fawcett, 2001 suggest, reading instruction practices should be built on knowledge of fundamental reading processes, and aim at prevention rather than remediation, a central goal in this early longitudinal intervention project. (Fawcett, 2001)
The focus of the Quebec English Language Arts program is on "the growth of fluent readers as well as writers of oral, written and visual discourse..." Indeed, lack of reading fluency is typical of reading disabilities, plus fluency instruction in reading is recommended in any remediation plan. Further research is needed to determine what the significant period is for the acquisition of accurate, rapid, and fluent reading beyond which the reading process is destined to remain slow plus laboured, in this population. (Cloud, 1994)
Finally, since vocabulary knowledge predicts reading comprehension, it is vital to determine the vocabulary needs of this population. Eden, 2000 ask how an early reading start can be translated into success in the middle grades. A follow-up intervention plus outcomes study is planned to answer this crucial question as well as the research needs noted here. (Eden, 2000)