As we’ve discussed in past blog entries, there are smart student characteristics that are common to all disciplines and all grade levels, and there are some characteristics that indicate strength in a given discipline.
In reading, for example, there are a number of variables that determine whether or not a student will develop as a “proficient” reader. This is a critical list for teachers, not only in language arts but in all disciplines, because reading is the only discipline tested in every content area.
A brief summary of these characteristics is included in the chart below.
|Characteristics Required for Proficiency in Reading
|Current Tools Available
|Usable in Regular School Setting
|Usable in VI or NTI Setting
|Mastery of initial decoding and reading skills
|A positive attitude about reading
|A positive perception of self as reader
|Success at grade level reading for inference or conclusion
|Success in grade level purposeful reading to perform a task (e.g., to learn, critique, etc.)
|Mastery of grade level literary concepts and their uses
|Success in grade level appropriate literary criticism/analysis
|Successful grade level recognition and analysis of required genre
|Successful linkage of critical and creative thinking to reading
|Mastery of appropriate “reading” and “literature” critical vocabularies
|Successful work in all reading assessment formats and venues
|Successful transfer of reading to real-world reading tasks
In a standards-based world, especially with the high-stakes accountability assessment in place, writing off the student as a poor reader without identifying the particular point of breakdown and cause of the breakdown will probably be considered an inefficient or ineffective teaching practice.
State assessments and transitions to the next level will both require students who have mastered reading at their grade level. Support systems will need to be developed for a wide variety of students (e.g., the student who is proficient at reading literature but can’t read a science text or a math question). Reading and thinking are the two truly universal disciplines that all students must master, which means that all teachers have a responsibility for building reading competency.