Before you can help students to read, you need to know why they can’t read. An umbrella statement like, “This kid can’t read” is too broad to be helpful. You need to be more specific in identifying the problem. For example,
• Does she know how to read maps, charts, graphs and political cartoons?
• Can she decode CVC, CVCe and other one-syllable words?
• Can she segment and pronounce two-, three-, and four-syllable words?
• Does she struggle so much with decoding English sounds that she cannot take in meaning?
• Is her English vocabulary limited?
• Does she recognize prefixes, suffixes and root words?
• Does she apply punctuation when she reads?
• Does she read in a monotone without inflection or expression?
• Does she monitor her understanding as she reads, rereading whenever she realizes she doesn’t understand?
• Does she know how to use context clues?
• Can she predict what will happen next as she reads?
• Does she make inferences?
• Can she identify the main idea in a reading passage?
• Can she summarize a passage, paraphrasing?
• Can she distinguish between important details and less important details?
• Can she detect author bias?
• Does she know how to think deeply?
• Does she believe she can read?
Reading problems can be divided into dozens of smaller, specific problems. And those smaller problems can be tackled—and usually solved—by a skilled teacher using appropriate strategies.