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Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education
and letter-sound knowledge are the focus of this screening in kindergarten and the beginning of grade 1, while word reading is the focus of the screening at the end of grade 1 and the beginning of grade 2. If the screening test suggests that a child is still developing these key concepts, then a more comprehensive inventory is administered by the teacher to help identify each child’s strengths and weaknesses and to help target intervention strategies to use with each child. The scores on the TPRI are designed to provide a concrete demonstration of the knowledge and skills covered in the classroom curriculum. As expected, early identification through universal screening does yield a higher number of false positives (i.e., children who will be identified as at risk but will not end up experiencing difficulties learning to read). For example, about 38 percent of second-semester kindergartners are misidentified by the TPRI screen as needing further help. However, most of these students can get the support they need to be successful readers through supplemental small-group reading instruction from the teacher for about 20-30 minutes a day.
By the end of 2nd grade, if a child still does not meet the criterion of successful mastery on the TPRI, they are referred for further evaluation and intervention. Thus, use of the TPRI not only signals the need for more intensive intervention by 2nd grade, but it also holds promise for preventing reading difficulties by the use of ongoing assessment and targeted interventions while children are still learning to read in kindergarten and 1st grade.
Early Screening and Intervention for Behavior Problems
There now exist feasible and inexpensive tools to systematically assess the reading skills of all students. Currently there is no parallel emphasis on the systematic, continual tracking of emotional or behavioral problems, even though they commonly figure into reading and other learning problems (Bussing et al., 1998). Since identification and referral by teachers for emotional disturbance or behavior disorders is often unsystematic, idiosyncratic, and late in the development of a behavioral problem (see Chapter 6), early systematic screening could bring large improvements.
Existing identification procedures that rely on intrapersonal psychiatric assessments or standardized tests (e.g., Achenbach and Edelbrock, 1986) do reveal problems in emotional and behavioral adjustment. But they do not take into account possible problems in teacher practices or classroom or school-wide issues that may be critical in understanding the child’s problems and in formulating a corrective intervention strategy. This point is driven home by findings from a recent longitudinal study by Kellam et al. (1998a). On average, across 19 schools, 1st grade children who were assessed to be in the top quartile in aggression were four times more likely