There are many issues that contribute to reading and writing difficulties. Some of these are physical, cognitive, linguistic, social, educational, visual, emotional, economical and cultural. The one contributing factor I will focus on is linguistic. According to Verhoeven, et. al, "The importance of linguistic factors in reading relate even more to reading comprehension processes... the linguistic processes involved in the comprehension of oral language strongly constrain the process of reading comprehension. These reading comprehension processes would include (a) the parsing of sentences into their constituent components; (b) the drawing of inferences to make the relations within and between sentences sufficiently explicit and thereby facilitate the integration of information; and (c) the identification of underlying text structure, such as the propositions within a text (micro structure), and the global gist of a text (2010)." After reading the article by Verhoeven, et. al., and reflecting on my own experiences working with struggling readers, I believe the implications are that deficits in language and linguistics often appear in the form of phonological difficulties. If a student is struggling in that area we must build that background knowledge students may be lacking in order to promote cognitive growth.
Some critical issues in reading and writing assessment are correctly identifying students who are at-risk, the validity and reliability of the assessment(s), and ongoing progress monitoring of students. The first issue depends on the accuracy of the assessment. Is it grade-level appropriate? Does the assessment cover various reading skills? Is it too long? Is it too short to even give an accurate depiction of that student's skills? These are questions I ask myself about making sure the identification process is as accurate as possible.
This goes hand-in-hand with validity and reliability when using an assessment tool. What is the data collection process like? How accurate is it? According to the Reading Rockets (2012) web site: "Assessments should represent clearly the content domain they purport to measure. For example, if the intention is to learn more about a student's ability to read content area textbooks, then it is critical that the text passages used for assessment be structured similarly."
Progress monitoring should be short and happen once a week or at least every other week. This is to make sure interventions are most meaningful and effective.
International Reading Association. (2012). A critical analysis of eight informal reading inventories. Accessed on January 16, 2013
from: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/23373/ .
Verhoeven, L., Reitsma, P. & Siegel, L. (2010). Cognitive and linguistic factors in reading acquisition. Accessed on January 16, 2013 from: