Hi, I hope this is okay to post here. I'm a special education teacher. My DD7 is in first grade with a gifted IQ and ADHD, although the school won't recognize the ADHD because she is performing at grade level. My daughter doesn't like school. I think partly because it is difficult for her to pay attention and partly because she's bored. The school doesn't do any enrichment for her and she is in the at grade level reading group. I recently tested her reading again using the GORT-4, because the test they did last year didn't test fluency or comprehension. Her fluency is at a beginning first grade level and her comprehension is third grade. My two main questions are: for a gifted student, should I be concerned about her fluency, and should I be pushing for her to be in a higher group? What else would be reasonable to ask them to do? Thank you!
When does (or does it?) your school officially identify students as gifted? We identify at the end of first grade, specifically in math and reading, and while I pull some students prior to that, I wouldn't pull someone who is on grade level unless there was compelling evidence the student needed additional services. It doesn't mean I wouldn't pick the student up later, but I don't want kids to miss basic how-to-read instruction when I'm focusing on critical thinking skills. Does your school do an ability test (CogAt or similar)?
What is her on grade level group working on? How are her decoding abilities?
For the long-run, I'd be most focused on comprehension. I used to teach middle school language arts and some of my best readers could be some of the slowest readers. They were held back in lower reading groups in elementary because of that fluency, which was endlessly frustrating for everyone, I'd imagine. In my opinion, once a student can decode fluently and reliably, comprehension should probably pay a bigger role in where the student is placed rather than fluency.
It seems as though fluency is a weakness, so while I'm not sure I'd be worried about it, it's something I'd be working on. Timed repeated readings (Shel Silverstein's poems are great for this) were helpful for my kids whose fluency didn't match their comprehension.
If there's a gifted teacher in the building, I'd enlist his/her help. One of my students was recently given an IEP, despite the fact that he's working on (and in some cases, above grade level). I had to really push the idea that his disability was impacting his ability to access the general ed curriculum and that school is about more than academics. I'm not always successful, but in this case I was.
As for pushing her to be in a higher group, I think that's really going to depend on what she's doing in the group she's in. If she needs that instruction, I wouldn't push to have her in the higher group because she won't be getting the instruction she needs. Having said that, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for independent work where she can work on comprehension at her level. This might well require her to listen to the reading, if decoding and/or fluency are an issue, but it's still a reasonable accommodation for her teacher to make.
Do you have any idea why her fluency is so low? Is it possible she has a reading/decoding disability that is being masked by her ability to compensate?
The school doesn't have a gifted program, although they have a math and reading specialist. Do you think I should talk to the reading specialist? My daughter was identified when I had outside neuropsych testings done due to the ADHD issues. The neuropsych recommended gifted programming or enrichment.
Your last question of is there an underlying reading disability being masked is one of my main concerns. She is mildly gifted with an IQ of 132. Verbal 136, Visual Spatial 129, Fluid Reasoning 123, Working Memory 110, Procession Speed 100. The school isn't taking into account her ability when they look at her achievement scores, and they are happy and content that she scores at or slightly above grade level, none of which are near her ability.
Her scores during the testing were all over the place due to her inability to attend. They thought possibly NVLD, but the only thing the scores reliably indicated was that she was bright and had ADHD.
I try to work with her doing choral reading and repeated reading (I love Shel Silverstein, and we actually read Where the Sidewalk Ends, a whole 5 pages before she had enough, last night) but she hates reading and it is a battle in our house, not that that stops me from trying. I think her decoding isn't as bad if she slows down, but she omits words, lines, adds extra words. It's the tracking part. Minus the skipping lines, the sentences make sense most of the time. I think it's just such a struggle for her to focus. She does have more issues with encoding, and she still has reversals with Bs, Ds, Ps, and Gs, which I know is still developmentally appropriate, but it's still on my radar.
The only reason that I know of that she is in the at-level group is because of her confidence level in decoding. The teacher will have her read the higher level stuff to her every once in a while when she can work with her one on one.
Thank you for pushing for that student and others. I feel like the school just isn't listening to me and I need an advocate to really get what she needs.
It's certainly going to be tricky. Usually when my kids struggle in reading, they their fluency is fine and their comprehension is a nightmare, so I don't know that I can give you advice there. I would talk to the reading specialist. There should be some kind of screening or similar that they can give your child considering the discrepancy between her verbal score and where she's achieving. If there isn't an LD, hopefully the reading specialist might have some ideas for how to improve fluency AND allow her to continue to work on comprehension at an appropriate level.
Have you tried timed repeated readings? One poem a week. The first reading is choral, then she reads it while her partner (probably you, in this case), keeps track of the time and her mistakes. Reread it every day for that week. Have her chart them so she sees that with practice, her fluency and accuracy improve. I did this with my fifth graders and they usually liked it - at least part of it was the ability to use the stopwatches, but I digress.
My first graders LOVE logic puzzles. I taught them how to do them and now they get cranky when we go a whole period without doing them. There are quite a few books out there for primary kids. It might be a good way for her to practice fluency and accuracy while also challenging her.
I'm a reading specialist and have a gifted son. Your question about her performance masking a possible reading disability and the convo thread made me wonder if you have considered an assessment with a vision therapist? Some of my students are currently in vision therapy at a local center. They work on issues such as eye teaming, tracking, etc. I have a friend whose daughter has been going to vision therapy and her reading is improving, as are some of the symptoms of ADHD that she has been displaying. (In her case, they discovered that she is unable to focus on text or objects further than like 3 inches or something from her eyes. She was seeing double further out than that. Can you imagine how hard it would be to focus if your vision was like that???) Anyway, if you aren't familiar with vision therapy, look around online and see if it seems like it might be a possibility - I hope there is someone in your area that provides the therapy! We have seen great progress in our students who are receiving this support.
Thank you! A visual processing disorder and seeing a developmental optometrist is something I very recently had thought of. It helps to have someone else also considering it. My husband is so against more doctors and more specialists, but I need answers, and she needs help. I know what happens if these are left without intervention, especially early on.