Teachers' perceptions of students with late emerging reading disabilities
The purpose of this study was to determine teachers' perceptions of students who begin displaying signs of reading difficulty in the upper elementary grades (fourth grade and higher). The research additionally aims to identify differences in perceptions of teachers teaching grades one through three as compared to those teaching grades four through six regarding their awareness of Late Emerging Reading Disability and areas of intervention for these students. The research also investigates the areas, which teachers associate with reading difficulty among children beyond fourth grade. An online survey was utilized to collect data from teachers in six schools in Central Iowa districts.
Seventy-nine teachers responded to the survey amongst which 58 were early elementary teachers and the other 21 were intermediate elementary teachers. Significant differences between early elementary and intermediate elementary teachers were found for the likelihood of a child being identified with reading difficulties in elementary grades, with the early elementary teachers indicating a higher likelihood of identification of students with reading difficulties in early elementary grades. The research study also found significant differences for the likelihood of identification of students with reading difficulties in intermediate grades, with intermediate elementary teachers indicating a lower likelihood that students with reading difficulties in intermediate grades will be identified. The results also showed that both groups of teachers prioritized intervention for early elementary students struggling in reading in the areas of phonemic awareness and phonics. Both groups of teachers shifted the areas of intervention to vocabulary and comprehension for a student struggling with reading in intermediate elementary grades. The study however did not find significant differences between the two groups of teachers in prioritizing intervention for students identified in early elementary grades versus those identified in late elementary grades.
In associating factors with reading difficulties in intermediate elementary grades, significant differences were reported for "lack of appropriate instruction," with the early elementary teachers associating "lack of appropriate instruction" with late emerging reading difficulties to greater extent than did intermediate elementary teachers. The narrative responses from open-ended questions clearly indicated that teachers in both groups lacked knowledge about the phenomenon of Late Emerging Reading Disability.
Thus to summarize, findings indicate that teachers in the early elementary and intermediate elementary grades lack awareness about the concept of Late Emerging Reading Disabilities. Also, the likelihood of students being identified with reading disabilities is perceived by teachers as much lower in the intermediate grades than the likelihood of being identified in the early elementary grades. Thus the research findings may help create awareness among elementary teachers to look out for students who begin struggling in reading in intermediate elementary grades and thereby provide appropriate and timely intervention.