Meeting the needs of secondary students who cannot read: One role among many for English teachers
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre
A survey of secondary English teachers in one Australian state explored their understanding of senior students with reading difficulties and how they could be supported to access the mainstream English curriculum. The results revealed that teachers were aware that significant numbers of their students struggled with basic literacy skills, but lacked information about appropriate diagnostic tools, and ways in which students could be supported in their development of independent reading skills. A further issue was finding the time to include reading instruction and individual student support while addressing the demands of a secondary syllabus and preparing students for external examinations. Some teachers did, however, make adjustments to the type of text used for classroom instruction in an effort to maximize motivation. Some also gave time allowances and adjusted requirements of the assessment tasks. The paper concludes with recommendations to support the professional learning of teachers, and incorporate strategies that both engage struggling students in the curriculum, and support the development of skills necessary for a literate life beyond school.