English Language Arts

Preventing Reading Difficulties

Compelling evidence and common sense suggest schools must focus significant resources and expertise on preventing reading problems before they develop and intervene at the first sign of a problem. The links below will provide some assistance in this effort.

Pre-Kindergarten & Early Literacy

Children’s Learning Institute
Developed by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, this excellent site offers pre-kindergarten support, research, and resources. Founded and directed by Susan H. Landry, PhD, the Institute has a large staff involved in research, community development, and training activities related to the goal of promoting quality learning environments for young children.

Get Ready to Read!
This national program is dedicated to building the early learning and literacy skills of preschool children. The site is part of the National Center for Learning Disabilities’ initiative to provide parents, educators, healthcare professionals, and advocates with research-based strategies that help build early literacy skills and prepare preschoolers to learn to read when they enter school.

Ladders to Literacy
Here is a comprehensive curriculum approach designed to facilitate the early literacy and language development of preschool and kindergarten children in inclusive settings. Developed by the Washington Research Institute (WRI), Ladders to Literacy and the other WRI projects provide a wide array of resources for the pre-kindergarten domain.

Literacy Tips
These reading tips from the PBS show Between the Lions are a great practical resource for parents and are a rare example of TV that supports literacy learning.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
The NAEYC provides support to caregivers, preschool teachers, parents, and others interested in the development of young children.

Reading Checkup Guide
This guide from the American Academy of Pediatrics helps parents and caregivers promote early literacy activities in the home, preschool, and other environments.

K-3 Intervention Support & Resources

Big Ideas in Beginning Reading
This website was developed by the authors of the California English-Language Arts Framework, Dr. Edward Kame'enui and Dr. Deborah Simmons. Practical ideas, strategies, and solutions linking curriculum, instruction, assessment, and school organization focus on these five big ideas in beginning reading:

  1. Phonemic Awareness (ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words)
  2. Alphabetic Principle (ability to associate sounds with letters and use these sounds to form words)
  3. Fluency with Text (effortless, automatic ability to read words in connected text)
  4. Vocabulary (ability to understand and use words to acquire and convey meaning)
  5. Comprehension (a complex cognitive process involving the intentional interaction between reader and text to convey meaning)

California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT)
CalSTAT has resources for educators interested in effective ways to develop needs-driven – not label-driven – schools. A project of the California Department of Education’s Special Education Division, CalSTAT provides training, technical assistance, and resources for both special education and general education. Their website includes many useful downloads, streaming audio/video, virtual tours of model school sites, articles by leading experts, conference slides, and more.

DIBELS Data System
This website is the result of the University of Oregon’s five-year federal grant to identify and validate early literacy indicators from birth to age seven. DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) are quick and reliable assessments that help to pinpoint early literacy learning needs. DIBELS screenings are easy to administer and provide immediate results to guide small-group and/or individualized instruction. In addition to the interactive DIBELS Data System website, the assessments are available for grades K-6 in a printed format from Sopris West.

Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR)
This is a fabulous site that’s full of resources on reading intervention from pre-kindergarten to grade 12.

Preventing Early Reading Failure
Joseph K. Torgesen wrote this article for the American Educator’s 2004 special issue on early intervention/prevention. You’ll also find links to related articles detailing the importance of “catching them before they fall” and instructional strategies to address reading difficulties.