All students in state schools who receive special education services for learning disabilities must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in place. An IEP for reading is designed to bring the child to appropriate grade-level standards in language arts. IEP goals define the steps to reach the annual objective.
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Phonological and Phonemic Awareness
Children who have difficulty learning to read often have underdeveloped phonological and phonemic awareness. This is the ability to identify and manipulate sounds, words, rhymes and syllables correctly. A year-long IEP objective for building reading skills may state: "Within a school year Ashley will practice early learning reading skills. Ashley will demonstrate the ability to hear, identify and manipulate large parts of spoken language (letters, words, syllables, onsets, rhymes) and individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words, increasing age and grade levels by three to six months, as measured by an age-appropriate assessment." The IEP generally states one objective with three goals; in the example: (1) Ashley will learn one letter weekly and its associated sound, (2) identify the letters through tracing and (3) identify initial letter sounds through spoken language, pictures, matching, rhyming and using one-syllable words.
Decoding Letter-Sound Relationships
A reading disability will usually involve difficulty in decoding letter and sound relationships. A child may struggle with remembering letters and their sounds when seen in written language without a lot of repetition. In addition, letter blend sounds may appear confusing. Blends involve two sounds that make their own sound together as opposed to a separate sound for one letter, such as /bl/, /br/, /cl/, /cr/, /st/, /sl/. Using the same annual objective, one of the following goals will assist decoding vocabulary, depending on the skills the child has not achieved: (1) Ashley will learn and identify blends in spoken and written language by learning one blend weekly, (2) practice all blends, learning to recognise their single sounds and string their blends together and (3) string blends into words and practice them until words beginning with blends are automatic.
Reading fluency is another component of building reading skills. Fluency problems may include rough or choppy reading and a slow reading pace with incorrect intonation. This may include reading questions and exclamations correctly. Goals to enhance the objective may state: (1) Ashley will practice reading aloud two to five passages of choice until fluency is smooth with correct intonation, (2) practice reading silently and aloud to establish correct reading fluency and (3) listen to recorded stories to recognise and describe correct intonation and smooth reading quality.
An important component of reading involves comprehending what a child reads. This includes knowing the early learning reading skill components in the previous goals presented. This involves letter-sound and vocabulary recognition, fluency to understand the tone of the plot and actions of characters in the reading passages. Goals to meet the main objective could encompass one of the following: (1) Ashley will understand what she reads in short stories by naming characters in them, (2) learn and recognise new vocabulary, before reading stories, to improve comprehension and (3) discuss verbally what she reads in short stories by describing the correct sequence order of story plots.
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