I am the teacher of a sixth grade student who reads at about third grade level. His parents, both professionals, are dismayed at his lack of achievement but will not allow any testing. The boy seems to have a whole system of defensive reactions around reading.
Without any testing to guide us, I am at a loss. What can I do, and where can I start?
A useful principle is to begin at the point of success, and build from there. Back up as far as necessary to find your student’s successful level. You will not need to use any material he finds demeaning if you have him dictate his own reader--with you as his 'secretary.' Keep his stories as short and simple as need be, and give as much help as he requires in order to read them fluently. Practice re-reading the familiar pages even as you add new ones day by day.
Once he has made a successful new beginning, his defensive reactions should begin to subside. You can begin to teach skills using his dictated reader as source material, and watch how he responds. As you get moving along a successful path, you might observe some basic weaknesses: inattention to the details of a word, or a problem in naming letter sounds, or a problem with rushing, for example. If you do, great. You then have something very specific to teach which will boost your student’s skill. And if you encounter any immobilizing obstacles, you may find his parents more agreeable to testing in that specific area.
Ruth Alice Jurey, M.S.