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Dr. Sharon Pitcher Dr. Gilda Martinez Dr. Elizabeth Dicembre With input from Dr. Montana McCormick & Dr. Darlene Fewster. Literacy Needs of Adolescents in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area: A Multiple-Case Study Intended to Inform the Community. Rationale:.
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Dr. Gilda Martinez
Dr. Elizabeth Dicembre
With input from
Dr. Montana McCormick & Dr. Darlene Fewster
The recent national report, Crisis in the Cities, demonstrates the seriousness of adolescent literacy problems in our metropolitan area:
Adolescents in Maryland schools today will be the college students and work force of the future. We are beginning to see:
An important mission of Towson University is to:
Towson 2010 and the University’s Mission Statement (Available on Towson University’s website, www.towson.edu).
This study supports Towson University’s mission by developing snapshots to begin a Metropolitan dialogue on the literacy needs of adolescents.
Seven adolescent students attending the Towson University Reading Clinic in the Spring 2008 session, who were from a variety of school systems in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area, participated in this qualitative multiple-case study.
For this study, we assembled an investigative team with research experience in:
to look at the data from different perspectives.
The following individually administered assessments were used:
(assesses word identification in and out of context, comprehension, and listening capacity.)
(computer assessment assessing same understandings as the QRI)
(assesses how students think about reading)
(assesses value, instructional approaches and self concept of reading)
Questions for both the students and the parents were similar. The following are some examples from the student interview:
Among the students:
“What kind of difficulties are you having when
“Understanding what the topic is about.”
She knew where she needed help.
“The difficulties my daughter is having
is the comprehension part. She can read, she
can spell, but the comprehension
part for some reason is hard for her.”
Tamika was not receiving comprehension
instruction in school.
When Karl was asked,
“Is reading ever a problem on the computer?”
His response was simply,
Case 3: Kristen
Her Reading Clinic teacher reported:
Enrolled in grade 6 in a public school in Baltimore City
No chronic illnesses, vision or hearing problems
Loves sports, especially basketball
Father describes him as a gifted athlete
Makes good grades in school
Received support from a one-on-one reading specialist two days a week in grade 5
Does not read for pleasure
States that sometimes he does not understand what he reads
Believed reading was easier when he was 6 years old and he had pictures to help him
Described his reading class as consisting of a drill, “talking about something, reading a book, and finally doing tests on the book”
Indicated that the reading strategies he uses are reading aloud, rereading, and taking notes
Likes reading class best when they get to talk about what they read
When asked, “When do you like reading the most?”
Sam responded, “ When I like the book and it’s about what I like . . . like basketball.”
Expressed concern about Sam’s reading based upon observations made at home when he is reading to complete his homework
Believe Sam has a limited vocabulary and difficulty understanding what he reads
Stated that Sam has always tested on grade level
Stated that Sam does not understand the value in working at something
Stated that Sam does not spend much time on the computer
Stated that Sam has “difficulty with comprehension wherever – whether in print or on the computer, in retelling important story events in order
Reading comprehension at 5th grade level
Strengths – phonics and decoding, knowledge and use of before reading strategies, motivated to succeed, positive attitude toward to school and clinic
Needs – during and after reading strategies, vocabulary development
Fourteen-year old male in the 8th grade
Second time in Towson Reading Clinic
Enrolled in public school in a suburban school district
Will attend a science magnet school program
Never diagnosed with medical issues that might influence reading or academics
Loves to discuss sports, read about sports, and find athletic-themed clothing styles online
Has difficulty remembering what he reads, particularly in language arts class
Noisy classrooms make it harder for him to read
In language arts class: “The teacher picks the stories and books, sometimes has class discussion, but mostly students answer questions about reading”
Frustrated with teachers: They need to “start teaching and explaining things!”
When he cannot remember what he reads or does not understand, he goes back and re-reads
Has the most problems with comprehension in language arts (yet mother indicated problems in science)
Considers himself an “OK” reader, prefers to have choice in reading selections, and enjoys reading on computer
Frustrated with the schools and seeks out alternative instruction for Andrew
Enrolled Andrew in a magnet high school but concerned that Andrew will struggle
“That’s what worries me. I don’t want to set him up for failure and that’s why I’ve been trying to give him all types of help. I’ve been looking for programs for the summer. Everything will be academic for the summer because I have to give him what he is not getting in school.”
Feels that most of Andrew’s academic problems stem from lack of motivation
Stated that Andrew’s grades were slipping in science and attributed this to not being able to comprehend the science texts
Stated that history and math textbooks are the only texts brought home
Frustrated that the teachers do not communicate with her more
“Everything else is handouts. The tutor questioned it last year and she actually spoke to one of the teachers and was told that the school has no funding…because they are frustrated with the school and the principals, they are just teaching basics. And, these kids are not learning anything. They are not learning. The school has not passed the MSA testing for 3 years.”
“They are just not doing anything and it is sad. They don’t call me. They don’t tell me anything. I don’t care if you have 50 kids in your class. 10 out of 50 may be doing good. Let me follow up. I don’t think they have phone numbers because they never have called me.”
Reading comprehension at 6th grade level
Strengths – word recognition
Needs – vocabulary, comprehension strategies while he is reading, monitoring comprehension, writing development
Reading in class consists of:
What makes reading hard or easy:
Noise in the classroom (quiet helps)
The words (both recognizing them and knowing the vocabulary)
What teachers do to help students understand:
Help with vocabulary
Give students choice
Help students relate the reading to their own lives
Reading in content areas – comments were varied:
were aware they had difficulty with reading comprehension
enjoyed reading when they self-selected it
could read without any problems on the computer
rarely used the computer (if at all) while in school
enjoyed games on the computer and in school
were not motivated by their reading instruction at school
could articulate reading strategies at the end of the clinic experience
struggled most with reading in social studies and/or science
Overall parents stated:
there was limited home-school communication
reading programs were not explained
their child did not struggle to read on the computer
their child enjoyed reading on the computer
the reading instruction at school did not meet their child’s needs
These case studies:
We plan to:
Encourage administrators to:
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National Endowment of the Arts (2007). To read or not to read: A question of national consequence. Washington, DC: National Endowment of the Arts. Retrieved February 19, 2008 from http://www.nea.gov/research/ToRead.pdf
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Towson University (2006). TU 2010. Retrieved September 30, 2008 from http://wwwnew.towson.edu/main/abouttu/strategic/guidingprinciples