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The Literacy Standards and Needs of an Individual Learner

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Children enter their primary years with varying capabilities and levels of readiness for formal learning. They come with varying ‘funds of knowledge’ that prepare them differentially for the language and literacy environments of school (Hill et al., 1998). In order to be an effective teacher, it is important to understand exactly what is the cause of difficulty for a learner before considering the provision of particular teaching procedures to overcome the problem (Winch et al., 2014).

The purpose of this report is to assess the literacy standards and needs of an individual learner. Literacy is foundational to engagement in learning and lifelong achievement. It is a diverse and complex skill defined as a learners’ ability to interpret and create texts with context, accuracy, confidence, fluency and efficacy (National Curriculum Board, 2009). By attending to children’s individual learning profiles of relative strengths and weakness in word meaning and broader language skills, teachers can provide individualised instruction for optimal reading achievement across the school grades (Adlof et al., 2011).

The Victorian Governments’ Literacy Teaching Toolkit encompasses the interrelated components of speaking and listening, writing, reading and viewing. This report will directly address the reading and viewing component of the Victorian Curriculum for literacy and the achievement standards set out in the Victorian Curriculum F-6. Reading is understood as a tool for gaining new knowledge and rethinking current knowledge (Pearson et al., 1992). Thus assessing reading skills becomes essential for a learners’ development. Assessments can be used to evaluate current reading skills, to measure progress in the reading curriculum, and to identify risk for future problems (Adlof et al., 2011). The results of these assessments ensure the teacher is able to plan teaching and learning experiences that support the learner in becoming a more successful reader (WADET, 2004).

As comprehension is a strong predictor of overall academic achievement (Luke et al., 2011), this report will focus on assessing the learners’ literacy needs within this area. Commonly denoted as a readers’ understanding, comprehension can better be described as a thinking process for seeking meaning when there is perplexity, a lack of understanding, or absence of sense (Dewey, 1997). It is a process of making meaning that involves decoding, comprehending and questioning all types of texts (Callow, 2013). The learner will be assessed based on their ability to effectively employ comprehension strategies including predicting the content of the text, retrieving literal information, inferring, visualising, retelling/summarizing, and building word knowledge.

Reading fluency is also an important focus of literacy teaching that has been known to enhance comprehension. According to verbal-efficiency theory, when word reading is fluent, or automatic, cognitive resources that would otherwise be allocated to decoding can instead be devoted to comprehension (LaBerge & Samuels, 1974). Therefore, this report will also assess aspects of the learners’ reading fluency. The findings from this report will enable teachers to assist this learner to acquire the strategies and processes used by proficient readers to make meaning, and to improve their level of overall comprehension of texts (Duke & Pearson, 2002).

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