ABSTRACT

As students move through secondary school and beyond, the gap between the reading levels of different individuals will increase. In any Year 7 intake, the range of reading ages may vary from that of a 7-year-old to a 17-year-old. This variance will be reflected across all of the sub-skills that underlie reading: speed of word recognition, knowledge of vocabulary, comprehension of text and so forth. Certain deficiencies will be more obvious to teaching staff than others and additional support is more likely to be offered to those students who are unable to decode, rather than to those with an underlying weakness with comprehension. When a student’s comprehension levels are behind those of their peers and no support is offered, the gap between their reading level and that required by the curriculum will increase, their access to mainstream subjects be reduced and motivation impaired. The experience of a student with poor comprehension will be similar to that of an average ability student decoding a comparatively complex French text: they may be able to decode the words, but that will not guarantee an understanding of overall meaning. It is important that all of the students’ reading skills are developed and not just their decoding ability.