Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Teachers' Descriptions of Methods Used to Improve the Reading Achievement of Students with Learning Disabilities



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Purpose The purpose of this study was to explore ways in which third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers reported they successfully improved the reading achievement of students with LD as documented by an increase in test scores on standardized tests in reading. Moreover, this study is an examination of productive ways in which elementary classroom teachers reported that they increased the interest and motivation of students who have historically had difficulty in school, specifically, students who have been identified with LD. Method This qualitative study was conducted with five Grade 3, 4, and 5 general education teachers with at least three years of experience teaching students with LD in reading. The teachers were selected from schools which had attained a Reading/ELA Distinction in the Accountability Ratings for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 administrations of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). The schools also had a minimum of two self-contained special education classrooms. The semi-structured interviews were the basis of the phenomenological study of the experiences of the teachers in working with these students to be successful in reading.
Findings Teachers who participated in the study shared indicators of student success. In addition to an increase in test scores, the teachers shared that increased participation in classroom discussions and the facial expressions of their students with LD were signs that the students had improved their reading performance. Other indicators were a decrease in negative behaviors and an increase in independence. Themes of success that the teachers shared focused on positive relationships and interactions with students, reliance on the support of school-based personnel, collaboration with parents, and positive strategies and incentives that the teachers used to motivate their students with LD. Students with LD are successful when they benefit from a variety of factors, including relationships with caring and interested general education teachers. General education teachers benefit from and are better able to provide support to their students by having positive relationships with other members of the school staff, including teaching assistants and teacher interventionists. Equally important are the positive relationships general education teachers have with students’ parents.



Relationships, Learning disability, General education teachers, Motivation, Reading achievement