"Doing guided reading right": Investing in teacher knowledge and improved practice

Year: 2013

Author: Comber, Barbara, Spina, Nerida

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


As NAPLAN continues to impact on schools around Australia, school leaders are marshaling a range of resources to improve their school performance. One approach to the teaching of reading which has internationally enjoyed a resurgence of take-up is guided reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996; Pinnell & Fountas, 2009). This approach is intended to ensure that children who are struggling with reading get differentiated instruction from their teachers in small groups. Not surprisingly school leaders recognize its potential to enhance children's performance on the reading test in NAPLAN. However research internationally has long signaled the dangers of ability grouping, particularly for low socio-economic and culturally diverse students (Cazden, 1970; Rist, 1970). Recent research in the USA, focusing on grouping practices in guided reading, indicates there may be unanticipated risks associated with this approach for students marginalized by race and class (Maloch et al, 2013). School leaders express other concerns as well with devoting considerable resources of time and money to one approach and emphasize the need to monitor the effects for different students over time. Teachers also express concerns about their knowledge, access to time and resources. This paper draws on focus group and one-to-one interviews to explore these concerns.

Cazden, C. (1970). The situation: A neglected source of social class differences in language use. Journal of social issues, 26(2), 35-60.
Fountas, I. & Pinnell, G. S. (1996). Guided reading: Good first teaching for all children. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Maloch, B. Worthy, J. Hampton, A. Jordan, M. Hungerford-Kresser, H. & Semington, P. (2013). Portraits of practice: A cross-case analysis of two first-grade teachers and their grouping practices. Research in the Teaching of English, 47 (3), 277-312.
Pinnell, G.S. & Fountas, I. (2009). When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works. Portsmouth, NH; Heinemann.
Rist, R. (1970).  Student social class and teacher expectations: The self-fulfilling prophecy in ghetto education. Harvard Educational Review, 40 (3), 411-451.