Reading Performance of Learning Disabled Students

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Students who read well typically do well in school. Nearly 10% of students in the American education system find it hard to improve performance (Printz, 2006). A child who does not read well has a higher possibility of being labeled with a learning disability, dropping out of school, or later having less success in work (Herberg, McLaughlin, Derby, & Weber, 2012). Regrettably, teachers continue to differ as to how to enhance children’s reading knowledge so all the children will be literate when leaving school (Kaufman, McLaughlin, Derby, & Waco, 2011).

Consistent with the research literature, there are many successful and valuable teaching methodologies to enhance reading performance and word acquisition. Such methodologies consist of skill-centered programs like Direct Instruction (DI). Direct instruction involves explicit using lectures that contrast sharply with tutorials, and inquiry. Instead of using models, educators use demonstrations of the subject materials. Precision coaching that allows children to increase knowledge vigorously and monitor day-by-day performance is part of these coaching and evaluation methodologies. In precision coaching, the educators aim is not abstract and general. Rather, it is focused and trained on getting particular results. Teacher-and children-coordinated drill (a live session where students and teachers engage at a personal level to solve pertinent issues) and practice techniques like feedback cards (the cards provide valuable guided feedback), detailed notes, constant reading and Direct Instruction flashcards (Falk et al., 2003) have been certified for their efficiency. The utilization of class-based peer coaching has enhanced classroom social and educational behaviors across an extensive range of behaviors and children categories.

Development in word knowledge and fluency is associated with a drill and practice process known as reading racetracks (Green et al., 2010). Reading racetracks (which are tools that help students increase reading fluency by capturing their attention) use mistake elimination, timing, group or tutor comment, and plotting of children performance. The coach places in the drawings a list of word sets. The children are usually directed by the tutor, then they practice on their own. After that, the instructor times the child for 60 or 120 seconds to see how quick he or she can verbally read the words around the racetrack. The researcher takes care to separate phonetically alike words. After the initial three racetracks, an assessment racetrack is made to provide further practice and maintenance of treatment outcomes over time (Printz et al., 2006).

The following methodologies are included in this proposed study, but contain an original extension of many of these data-centered methods. This study employs the “outline, guide, examine, and re-examine” found in Direct Instruction methods. The precision training strategies (Printz et al., 2006) of timed reading practices, fluency developing, survey sheets, and child self-reading of performance are employed. The utilization of drill and practice processes is also adopted. Finally, a token strengthening program (Printz et al., 2006; Green et al., 2010) will be appraised and adopted. This study will use a “reading track” system (Printz et al., 2006) and precision coaching (that allow students to monitor each day’s performance) methods to improve the fluency and correctness that children read words in isolation. The racetracks that will be adopted conform to the direct instruction practice of not incorporating words, which are visually and phonetically similar in the same session (Hyde et al., 2009).

The purpose of the present research is to assess the efficiency of utilizing technology oriented alternatives to improve the reading of words found. A token strengthening program is as well engaged as further motivation for the research. During a one-minute timing of verbal reading, right and wrong phrases will be measured.

Literature Review


The study of the art and science of reading focuses on understanding the relationship between mind growth, social relationship, and learning by borrowing concepts and concluded studies from the fields of education and neuroscience (Printz et al., 2006). The results of the present study may aid in enhancing training practices for all children and assisting teachers in the development of more successful methods to teaching students with learning disabilities.

Some of the general design elements built into certain hardware and software provide simple but strong techniques to back-up students’ requirements, both at home and in class. This literature review provides a synopsis of learning technology practice and methodology with tangible examples of how parents, instructors, and children can utilize technology to improve reading performance of students with learning disabilities.

Learning Technology

Technology is often integrated into learning interventions and policy with a purpose of facilitating education for children with learning disabilities. As specific elements (Direct Instruction flashcards, Precision Coaching, feedback cards etc) are provided within conventional products, children with learning disabilities are gradually able to interact with educational technologies and instructors are gradually able to modify content for changing children’s preferences or requirements (Kaufman, McLaughlin, Derby, & Waco, 2011).

Moreover, novel technology applications and learning software exclusively for children with learning disabilities emerge on a daily basis from curriculum developers, parents, instructors, and even learners themselves. These features are contributing to a global need for changes in policy and teaching methods that can influence when and how technology is utilized to improve reading performance of students with learning disabilities (Kaufman, McLaughlin, Derby, & Waco, 2011).

The 2004 approval of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) summarizes the needs and resources for students with learning disabilities in the United States. The IDEA requires Personalized Learning Intervention (PLI) groups, which consist of parents, to re-examine and recommend Educational Technologies (ETs) and establish needed features for an individual child. This consists of specific technologies needed for children with learning disabilities to produce learning materials, interact with syllabus content, or relate to their peers and instructors (Kaufman, McLaughlin, Derby, & Waco, 2011).

Differentiation and Technology

Differentiated teaching requires instructors to present content that is customized correctly for the range of children in each category, to instruct utilizing flexible methods that provide varying means for learners to interact with the content and with one another, and to offer learners a choice of techniques to document their learning (Kaufman, McLaughlin, Derby, & Waco, 2011). Within both instructor coaching and career development, special instructors are gradually trained to acquire necessary knowledge in their teaching methods. Given that, some special students may opt to learn normally, and the push for affirmative action in this area, General Education Instructors require Special Education knowledge to offer the bulk of daily instruction for learners with disabilities in normal classrooms, with resources and back up from special education professionals (Hyde et al., 2009).

In addition, institutions are gradually offered technology-based syllabi that offer excellent ways of interaction and comprehending for learners with disabilities. Many of these syllabi integrate flexible lesson plan methods based on brain studies and/or general lesson plan practices. For instance, Richard Mayer (2008) suggests evidenced-centered media design practices that demonstrate how learning is improved when educational practices foresee the cognitive procedural load needed at every level of education. He provides detailed media design suggestions that support critical production of main features and strategies, reduce irrelevant production, and promote generative production to improve learning skills. Mayer’s results show that the correct mixtures of resources – like animation with recitation or pictures with the appropriate phrases beside them – can enhance learning than when notes are presented using an informal rather than a formal method, indicating that our social interaction with the content influences how we learn (Kaufman, McLaughlin, Derby, & Waco, 2011).

Technology Use at Home and In Class

Four to six percent of learners in United States institutions have been diagnosed with learning disabilities, totaling 2.7 million learners in 2007. Over 50% of those children spend most of their day in general learning classrooms. Technology inputs that support learners with learning disabilities are becoming more accessible, but class consumption remains behind because general education instructors have not been trained to use such technology effectively. Approximately 35% of learners with disabilities access supportive technology to enhance learning. Specific knowledge of supportive technology may be needed to satisfy the requirements of children with certain learning disabilities, but technology reviews even in such instances are often missing. Special technology reviews are occasional checks by perennial instructors and developers of supportive technology to ensure that such technology captures the needs of the intended users. A study of 400 instructors who teach children with learning disabilities found that below 33% of their children had ever had a supportive technology review.

Research carried out by the Harvard Family Research Program proposes eight methods in which instructors and administrators can encourage parents’ participation in homework to assist students to improve and reinforce learning skills. Four of the proposed ways need considerable parental capability and/or parent-centered coaching and instructor support. These consist of parents’ direct participation in assignments and completion of homework. In addition, it consists of parents’ development of helpful strategies that match classroom roles to their children’s understanding, skills, and capabilities. Studies offer suggestions that propose an affirmative impact from parent-to-parent support teams and instructor-parent partnerships in improving and supporting individualized assignment systems for all children (Lolich et al., 2012).

Technology Appropriateness

Technologies that aid children with disabilities tackle physical and time challenges can have a quantifiable impact on the children’s interaction with learning. Children who strive to understand image, print, and audio resources are less capable of experiencing deep interaction while absorbing new content since the decoding procedure uses an uneven share of active memory. Education instructors, researchers, and professionals agree that special children ought to know how their specific impairment affects their education. Research on several intellects supports learner self-recognition of preferences, strengths, and weaknesses in various fields of learning: rational, spatial, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Future brain studies may recommend individualized reviews that could quantify varying degrees of learning through utilization of diverse technology-centered approaches at diverse levels in a child’s development.

Intervention in Education

Improving student performance is a primary concern for teachers and administrators. Broad social changes, including advances in science and shifts in the role of technology in educational settings have all influenced the instructional methods used in today’s schools. Every area of the curriculum in today’s educational system includes information technology using computers, software, and interfacing systems that connect students and classrooms all over the world. These instructional systems use powerful computer systems to research complex problems and help students learn to produce the correct solutions. It is also important to reiterate that the integration of technology in the curriculum of schools is currently the most discussed issue in educational reform.

There is a large upward movement in the numbers of students with disabilities in colleges and universities. This increase results partly from legislation that requires postsecondary institutions to provide students with learning disabilities equal access to education and the opportunity to participate in the academic process. Research further emphasize the effects of integration of educational technology in increasing academic achievement of students with LD. Provision of assistive technology in both computer hardware and software resulted in marked improvements in the rates of reading comprehension, word attack and recognition test outcomes.

Students with learning disabilities in reading fall victim to low self-esteem, discipline problems, higher dropout rates, and criminal activity. Students with learning disabilities also struggle in their attempts to master educational information. However, they can greatly improve with the inclusion of educational technology. Additionally, research finds that students with reading-related learning issues experienced difficulty reading tend to struggle in every subject in their curriculum. The high school graduation rate of the typical LD student and found that even if the LD student graduates, her opportunities for advancement in higher education and employment after graduation are severely limited.

Improving Student Achievement with Technology

Clark and Mayer (2008) studied the impact of e learning as an innovative method of academic instruction. They argue that four main principles should be included within the curriculum to make the e-learning experience beneficial to the academic environment. Clark and Mayer (2008) state that students should have access to instructor feedback, software with self-directed study activities that permits for self-review, adaptive instructions which adapt based on the rate of student comprehension, and the use of simulations and games integrated within the overall learning experience. These authors viewed the e learning as educational activities that allow the student to be informed through the performance of computer-driven tasks. This delivery method of academic instruction has the ability to seduce and engage the LD student so that they become involved in and captivated by the learning process. Computer technology also enhances the instruction of the challenged learner in development of knowledge and skills.

The integration of technology in the instruction of students with LD increases academic achievement. Students with dyslexia improved significantly in reading when computer remediation was introduced. Technology integration improved scores and brought LD students into the average and normal range of achievement. There was great results in language and reading performance. Additionally, evinced increased activation in multiple brain regions because of use of technology was recorded.

Specific Learning Disabilities

LD students comprehend at a level that is significantly lower than the average of people in society without LD. These students are challenged in their attempt to master academic subjects in every discipline within their education. Learning disabilities have been studied in education, psychology, medicine, and sociology. Dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia are categories of LD that affect most significantly a student’s ability to achieve. These learning disabilities affect the student’s ability to master academic tasks, including reading, writing, listening, speaking, spelling, and calculating. LD affects nearly every aspect of the student’s life and creates a downward spiral of academic failure and frustration. LD affects not only graduation rate but also the ability of LD people to participate in postsecondary training and the job market. Students with learning disabilities exhibit a number of problems including academic achievement and behavioral, social-adaptive, and emotional difficulties.

Teacher Preparation

Research is needed to determine how computer-based technology can assist them in their education. Research into questions of how teachers select, integrate, and apply technology to increase academic achievement of this increasingly identifiable population will continue to require the attention of educators working with LD students. Teachers encounter various challenges. The main ones are challenges in their sustained efforts to integrate technology into curriculums.

These include having adequate time to identify and adapt to the relevant software, scheduling time to access computers, adequate equipment, and use, and time to attend to needs related to overall professional development. These barriers can highly decrease instructional time. Additionally, it can discourage teachers from introducing the appropriate technology. To overcome these barriers, teachers must receive the necessary financial and instructional support to achieve the goals and objectives of technology integration. Falk et al. (2003) found that teachers lacked the time and expertise to find, evaluate, and learn software that was compatible both with existing institutional computer hardware and with their specific teaching goals and objectives. Falk et al. (2003) recommend that resources should be developed, previewed and pre-evaluated for effectiveness, as well as allowing time for teachers to familiarize themselves with the technology.


Students with learning disabilities are an important part to society. Steps have to be undertaken to ensure that they receive similar educational standards as the rest of the population. One way to do that is through integrating technology in the learning system. That is the surest way of bridging the gap between general populace and LD students. Educational assessment is mainly purposed at finding out what a learner may or may not be able to do and how they learn best in order to take appropriate intervention measures. On realization that the learner needs further assessment, the assessment team should refer them to a specialist for diagnostic assessment and decisions on intervention measures. The specialists include a speech therapist, clinical psychologist, reading specialist, pediatrician among others. To facilitate planning for the assessment, the team members should work collaboratively and in a participative manner too to ensure a wholesome assessment. Additionally, the assessments should be carried out in learner’s school or at home unless the learner proves to have both educational and other problems calling for specialized attention. Prior to the commencement of the learner, the teacher, and other team members should have a planning schedule for the determination of what is to be assessed and how the information is to be gathered as well as assessment objectives. Assessment objectives entail areas to which forces should be prioritized. This will increase the level of uptake of technology in schools for LD students.

Reference List

Clark, R & Mayer, R 2008, E learning and the science of instruction: proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning, Pfeiffer, San Francisco, CA.

Falk, M Band, M & McLaughlin, F 2003, ‘The effects of reading racetracks and flashcards on sight word vocabulary of three third grade students with a specific learning disability: A further replication and analysis’, International Journal of Special Education, vol. 18 no. 2, pp 51-57.

Green, C, McLaughlin, F, Derby, K., & Lee, K 2010, ‘Using reading racetracks and flashcards to teach sight words to students with disabilities: Effects for acquisition and response maintenance’, Journal of Educational Research, vol. 13 no. 2, pp 84-98.

Herberg, J, McLaughlin, F, Derby, K & Weber, P 2012, ‘The effects of repeated readings and flashcard error drill the reading accuracy and fluency with rural middle school student with learning disabilities’, Academic Research International, vol. 2 no. 3, pp 388-393.

Hyde, C, McLaughlin, F & Everson, M 2009, ‘The effects of reading racetracks on the sight word fluency and acquisition for two elementary students with disabilities: A further replication and analysis’, The Open Social Science Journal, vol. 2 no. 1, pp 50-53.

Kaufman, L, McLaughlin, F, Derby, K & Waco, T 2011, ‘Employing reading racetracks and DI flashcards with and without cover, copy, and compare and reward to teach of sight words to three students with learning disabilities in reading’, Educational Research Quarterly, vol. 34 no. 2, pp 27-50.

Lolich, E, McLaughlin, F & Weber, K 2012, ‘The effects of using reading racetracks combined with direct instruction precision teaching and a token economy to improve the reading performance for a 12-year-old student with learning disabilities’, Educational Sciences, vol. 3 no. 2, pp 245-249.

Mayer, R 2008, ‘Applying the science of learning: Evidence-based principles for the design of multimedia instruction’, American Psychologist, vol. 63 no. 8, pp 760-769.

Printz, K, McLaughlin, F & Band, M 2006, ‘The effects of reading racetracks and flashcards on sight word vocabulary: A case report and replication’, International Journal of Special Education, vol. 21 no. 1, pp 103-108.

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