Early Reading: Screening, Diagnosis, And Prevention
This is an updated excerpt from a publication I developed in 2000 while working for the AFT Educational Issues Department, “Putting Reading Front and Center: A Resource Guide for Union Advocacy.” By tapping the expertise of teachers of reading among members, local unions can use their collective voice to strengthen reading instruction.
The best form of reading remediation is to prevent children from falling behind in the first place. To many educators, this statement seems so obvious that it’s an education truism. Yet it’s one thing to agree on a basic truth and quite another to figure out how to implement it as part of a comprehensive school improvement effort.
The importance of assessing early reading skills
The first essential step in building an effective support system for struggling readers is to identify difficulties quickly, before an achievement gap can develop. The second is to implement effective prevention and early intervention strategies—i.e., stepping in while students are so young that reading failure never occurs, or early enough that it is relatively easy for students to catch up. For reading, it’s particularly important that this support begin at the earliest possible grade level.