5 Signs Your High-Performing Student Struggles With Reading Comprehension

5 Signs Your High-Performing Student Struggles With Reading Comprehension

There is a common misconception that high-performing students (HPS) have mastered foundational English Language Arts (ELA) skills regardless of grade-level. In fact, HPS are often overlooked by teachers because educators are under the impression, based on school grades and state exams, that such students have already mastered grade-level reading comprehension skills.

However, the danger of such thinking results in HPS often falling through the cracks. Even if HPS do well at grade level, they often suffer from similar reading comprehension issues as grade-level and below grade-level students. Here are five signs your child(ren) are secretly struggling with reading comprehension, even if they are doing well in school.

When reading aloud, the student finds it difficult to decode unfamiliar words. Pay special attention to multi-syllable words, such as proclivity, proclamation, emancipation, etc. If the student struggles to pronounce foreign vocabulary, two issues might be at work. First, the student might lack phonetic spelling skills, the process of sounding out the letters of an unfamiliar word. Public education in NYC no longer teaches phonics at the elementary level. Therefore, many of the students in our education system do not know how to decode and sound out unfamiliar vocabulary. Second, the student might need to increase her vocabulary. Without a high-leveled vocabulary bank, students will not be able to comprehend rigorous and above-grade level readings.
The ability to decode vocabulary is instrumental to reading comprehension. If the student spends most of her time trying to pronounce the vocabulary, she loses the meaning behind the word. Consistent decoding issues make it more difficult for students to follow the writing, and often incentivizes students to skim through what they are reading.

When reading aloud, the student skips over random vocabulary. If your child(ren) skip words, she is at a disadvantage: she will struggle to make sense of the original meaning of a sentence, thus lowering her comprehension skills.

When reading aloud, the student inserts her own vocabulary word into the reading. If you notice your child(ren) doing this, it is imperative you correct them as soon as possible. When the reader inserts her own words into a reading, she is inserting her own bias into the reading, therefore obfuscating the original argument of the author. This is especially problematic for questions involving inference and literal comprehension.

When reading aloud, the student does not self-correct when she makes a mistake. Self-correction is a sign of meta-cognitive reading (the act of thinking about reading). Meta-cognitive reading is crucial for advanced critical thinking and reading comprehension skills. A student who does not self-correct suggests that she (1) made a mistake while reading and (2) is unaware that she even made a mistake, thereby increasing the opportunity for miscomprehension of the passage.

When reading aloud, the student does not engage in prosodic, or expressive reading (the act of reading with rhythm and intonation). Expressive reading refers to reading a text aloud with feelings and emotions that match the tone and feelings of the passage. Expressive reading is a sign of strong reading comprehension. It is only through understanding what the words on the page are saying can we then actively convey those emotions. Therefore, pay attention to whether your child(ren) changes her inflection, tone, speed, or volume when she reads.
Reading comprehension is not just a skill needed for ELA. It is the foundation of all principles of study. Without a strong foundation in reading comprehension, students will often face difficulties in other subject areas, such as math and science. If you find that your child(ren) has trouble with one or more of the categories mentioned above, she may benefit from targeted and differentiated reading comprehension interventions. NYC STEM CLUB has several reading specialists on staff to (1) diagnose reading deficits and (2) personalize reading interventions according to student need. Students who have worked with our specialists on a one-on-one basis have seen dramatic improvements in their overall comprehension, speed, and expression. Contact us for more information!


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