Thursday, February 12, 2015

Brief Assessment Model and its use in fluency instruction

Kevin M. Jones and Katherine F. Wickstrom wrote Done in Sixty Seconds: Further Analysis of the Brief Assessment Model for Academic Problems, published in School Psychology Review 2002, 31(4). (This link does not include the figures.) They identified five children in grades 1-3 based on a) parental consent, b) child enrolled in Title I services- recommended to the reading specialist for support, and c) reading at the frustration level at grade level. Interventionists were graduate students in school psychology.

Passages from 10 stories at each of the three grade levels were selected from the basal readers. Generalization passages were written with 80% word overlap and matched readability. Students were assessed on correct words per minute(cwpm) on instructional passage, number of correct words read out of 100 words(sight words), and cwpm on generalization passage.  Baselines were established by having students read a grade level (instructional) passage. Then each of four experimental conditions were administered to identify how to teach. In this phase, each condition was delivered and followed up with a baseline assessment to determine treatment effect. Once a methodology was selected, treatment sessions were once or twice a week for an average of 28 calendar days. The criterion for success was a 20 % increase in oral reading fluency over baseline. The chart below summarizes the hypotheses for poor reading performance and intervention approaches.

Child does not want to do the work
Child has not had enough practice
Child has not had enough help
Material is too difficult
Skill level
Skills mastered but occur at insufficient levels due to motivation
Skills have been acquired but occur at insufficient levels because of infrequent opportunities for practice
Skills have not been acquired
Skills have not been acquired because there is a mismatch between the demands of the task and the child’s skills, fluency, and motivation
Test to see if this is a cause
Provide incentives for performance
Repeated exposure through practice
Increasing number of successful learning trials: modeling, rehearsal, corrective feedback
Lower the difficulty of the material
Intervention used to test the hypothesis and then used in instruction in the study
Child read for 1 min.. If the goal (30% increase over baseline) was reached, child would receive a reward. Participation was rewarded with a pencil.
Child reads the passage three times and then is timed. No corrections were offered for errors.
Adult read passage (listening passage preview) then read passage. Phrase drill- 1st – 15 errors were addressed. Errors were read then student read the phrase containing each error was read three times correctly.
Material one grade level below placement was used.

The selected treatment was effective in all instances. This led the researchers to conclude that instructional needs can be "isolated and confirmed using a brief experimental analysis" (p. 564). They also were able to confirm that the most effective strategies were idiosyncratic, stable over time and had potential widespread positive consequences.

It is interesting to note that these researchers were not testing to see if one treatment was more effective than another, but if a practitioner could match treatment to student to maximize effectiveness. In light of other research that reveals that some students fail to improve under a variety of research conditions, being able to determine what would be most effective is a great boon. If we can use less than an hour to determine the best way to improve fluency instruction, and then execute the recommendation we make a huge savings in resources and effectiveness. When we are talking about students with learning disabilities and fluency instruction, we might need to look at more variables such as a lack of phonemic awareness, poorly developed phonics skills, limited sight word vocabularies, vocabulary weaknesses and working memory concerns, but if we can design a simple assessment tool to pin point areas of concern and design interventions to meet those particular needs.

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