2014 Archives

Sparking literacy gains for students with intellectual disabilities


The following is from the June 4, 2014, edition of Education Week and concerns research by Jill H. Allor, a professor in SMU's Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

June 6, 2014

By Christina Samuels

Many students with intellectual disabilities are thought to have little or no ability to read independently. But new research shows that with intensive, scientifically based instruction, children with IQs of 40 to 80 (the typical range is 80 to 115) can independently read simple text.

The findings were published in the April edition of the journal Exceptional Children. In contrast to previous studies on reading interventions for students with disabilities, this study followed children for up to four years and did not include children with learning disabilities. By definition, learning disabilities are seen in children with normal IQs. Most reading research focuses on this population and excludes children with IQ scores below 85, the study said.

For this research, a group of 76 children with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, most of whom began the study in 1st grade, were randomly chosen for the intervention. Their results were compared to those of 65 children who received their regular teaching with no extra literacy help. By the end of the four-year study, most of the students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities could independently read 1st-grade-level text.

The findings "just change expectations," said Jill H. Allor, the principal investigator and a professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, in an interview. "We had kids in the project who didn't have literacy skills in their [individualized education programs], they just had functional skills. The message here is that literacy should be an expectation for everyone."

Read the full story.

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