How Seventh Grade Readers Who Completed An Intensive Phonics Intervention Program in Sixth Grade Comprehend Informational Text
Stein, Sharon Rent
Wiseman, Donna L
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The purpose of this study was to explore the processes by which seventh grade readers who completed an intensive phonics intervention program in sixth grade comprehend informational text. The informational text chosen for this study was a social studies passage from a seventh grade textbook. Completion of a phonics intervention program presumes an improvement in automaticity, a foundational reading skill characterized by the ability to read with speed and accuracy. Multiple case studies were the overall approach to inquiry and data gathering. With the assistance of a middle school reading specialist informant, the researcher invited the participation of five seventh grade students reflecting a variation in race and gender who were performing below grade level on reading assessments at the beginning of grade six, and who completed an intensive phonics intervention program by the end of grade six. Data collection included administration of an Informal Reading Inventory (IRI) graded word list, reading interest and reading behavior surveys, interviews and observations of students, read and think aloud sessions, an informal comprehension check, and a brief paragraph written by the students to indicate how they saw themselves as readers. The study results suggest that a structured and sequential phonics intervention program holds the promise of improved reading automaticity (the ability to read with speed and accuracy). Reading with speed did not guarantee comprehension. Automaticity was hindered and comprehension affected when students encountered multisyllabic words that were not easily decoded. The five students in this study were able to summarize, paraphrase, infer, predict, interpret, and question marked segments of the text with varying degrees of accuracy, but they were generally unable to demonstrate understanding of the broader ideas and concepts of the selection. Students expressed that they knew comprehension had failed. They did not have the means to repair their comprehension. For these students, explicit comprehension monitoring strategy instruction in addition to a phonics intervention program remains an important component of the reading program.