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Student with Reading Difficulty: Dynamic Assessment


The implementation of a curriculum-based dynamic assessment requires additional attention when dealing with students who have special needs. The student is experiencing issues with reading. To assist him, dynamic assessment should be utilized. It would include pre-testing, mediation in the form of teaching, and post-testing. This paper will present the lesson plan for the dynamic assessment, a test-teach-test component, and the assessment in the form of a commentary.

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The Lesson Plan

  • Lesson Title: Reading Ability Improvement.
  • Grade Level: First Grade.
Central Focus A student with difficulties in reading fluency
Content Standard CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.1: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
Student Learning Goal(s)/objective(s) Improve the fluency of the student’s reading ability to 100 words per minute and reduce the number of reading errors to three.
  1. The launch of the lesson begins with a question about the importance of reading. The student would be asked why he thinks reading is important.
  2. The student is asked about how he approaches reading.
  3. The lesson process is explained to the student.
  4. The goals of the lesson are explained to the student.
  5. The reading material is given to the student.
  1. The student is clearly instructed to read the text.
  2. If the student encounters an unfamiliar word, they should mark it and skip it while reading.
  3. Errors present during the reading should also be marked.
  4. The speed at which the student is reading the text is then recorded.
  5. The number of errors is recorded.
  6. The errors are addressed.
  7. The student is tasked with reading the text again but slightly faster.
  8. The speed of reading is once again recorded.
  9. The number of errors is also recorded.
  10. The errors are once again addressed.
  11. If the student is approaching the desired number of words, the next text is chosen.
  12. The texts grow progressively in difficulty, as the fluency of the student improves.
  13. At the end of the lesson, the improvements in the student’s speed and accuracy are recorded, and the next lesson is adjusted to the ability and the needs of the student.
Differentiation/Planned Support for Student
  1. The unknown words that are initially skipped by the student will be explained by the teacher after the reading is over.
  2. The errors done during the reading are then examined through a conversation between the teacher and the student.
  3. The increase in fluency is expected to be gradual. Therefore, the initial lack of improvement would not be treated as a failure of the lesson.
  4. If any specific issue with the student’s reading ability is identified, it would be addressed with priority.
Student Interactions
  1. The student is questioned about their understanding of reading.
  2. Their issues with fluency are discussed during the lesson.
  3. Unknown words are explained and integrated into the learning process.
  4. The student is expected to read progressively faster with each attempt.
Theoretical Principles and/or Research-Based Best practices The lesson is based on information provided in a book on a dynamic assessment by Haywood and Lidz, and an article by Karpov and Tzuriel. They cover possible approaches and problems of dynamic assessment (Haywood & Lidz, 2006; Karpov & Tzuriel, 2009).
Materials Series of 200-word passages that range in difficulty from simple to the level of the student’s reading level.
I am writing supplies.
Linguistic Aim “Have you tried?”
Vocabulary Grade level
Assessment Assess student learning.
Assess the plan.

Instructing and Engaging the Focus Learner

The target student, in this case, is a first-grader who has issues with the fluency of his reading ability. His comprehension is high, and he has no problem answering any questions about the text he reads. However, his reading speed is below the standard and is approximately 60 words per minute. It is starting to be a problem for him because he is unable to read tasks in class fast enough to finish them on time. According to the research of reading fluency, one of the best techniques to address this would be repetitive reading.

They suggest that students who experience issues with fluency often benefit from reading the same text over and over, with each attempt being faster than the previous one. This approach was chosen for the dynamic assessment with a few additional strategies to allow for a more informative mediation process.


The Goal

The goal of the pre-test is to determine the reading speed and errors that are present when the student reads the text. This will determine the initial level of his fluency.


The student should read a story consisting of 200 words as quickly as he can. The story should be one level below his own, to create a smooth progression from the easiest reading level to the hardest.

Example of a Story

James is a firefighter. He works hard to put out fires and stop them from spreading. James is friends with all the other firefighter who work with him. During their free time at the firehouse, they play pool, train, and rest. When James receives a call about a fire, he and his friends need to react fast. They use the pole to slide down into the garage and board the firetruck. It has a long ladder to climb into the higher floors of the building.

The firetruck also carries firehoses and other instruments such as fire axes, shovels, and cutters. Firefighters attach their firehoses to fire hydrants so that they have an unlimited amount of water to put the fire out. It is difficult to contain the fire, but James and his friends are professionals, and they know what to do. If somebody is trapped in the building, they clear the way and save them. Sometimes they need the help of emergency doctors that always come to assist the firefighters. James and his friends are very brave and often risk their lives to save others. After the fire is put out, they drive back to the firehouse to rest until the next call comes.

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The Mediation Process

  • It is finding any words that are unfamiliar and skipping them during the initial reading to discuss after.
  • I was talking about the words which were hard to read for the student.
  • I am attempting to read faster with each repeated attempt.
  1. For example, if the student is not familiar with the word “firehouse,” he would need to skip it during the first reading. The word is then marked, and after the reading is over, he would ask the teacher about its meaning. The teacher would need to explain that a firehouse is a place where firefighters work, keep their equipment and cars. It would also be important to note that a firehouse can also be called a fire station. While this text may be simple, later level texts would be harder, with the last text being above the level of the student.
  2. Any words that caused errors during the reading are also marked and discussed after it is over. To prevent them from being an issue in the subsequent readings, the teacher would need to read the sentence out loud and ask the student to do the same a few times in a row. After a few tries, the student should be ready to try reading the text again.
  3. The teacher should ask the student to read the text faster after all the unknown words and errors were discussed. The first reading is expected to be the slowest. However, each subsequent one must be faster. This should be repeated until the text is read at 100 words a minute or more.


The Goal

The goal is to evaluate the changes in the speed and accuracy of the reader by testing them with a harder text.


Read a story that is a level above the previous one in difficulty. Do not read unfamiliar words and make sure to mark them along with any errors.

Example of a Story

It took Mr. Bugle nearly a decade to build his house. He purchased the land in 1990, with hopes of building a small cottage in near the Jefferson Lake. Every year, he would spend his vacation working on building it. His friends were worried that working during his vacation would be bad for his health, but Mr. Bugle never felt better in his life. During his vacations, he lived in a small RV, so he could afford all the needed materials for the house.

Every day he woke up at six in the morning and after a nutritious breakfast, would get to work. He was away from occupied residences, so nobody was bothered by the noise. On multiple occasions, he had to redo parts of the house because it became damaged, but he never felt like he should give up. Moreover, he became even more ambitious over the years. Mr. Bugle decorated every window of his house with beautiful patterns carved out of wood. In the last year, he was almost sad that there was no more work to be done on the house. He got so used to building it every year that it felt wrong to stop.

The second story is more difficult and contains words and turns of phrase that a first grader may find hard to read fast. Texts of progressive difficulty are chosen because it helps to train the fluency of the student. Earlier texts become much easier to read, and at some point, they cannot improve the fluency of the client anymore. After each full lesson and assessment, the student should be able to feel more confident when approaching difficult texts, and his fluency should increase with each new reading.

Assessment of the Lesson

The student’s main strengths include the following. The student is extremely creative and loves to learn new skills that help accomplish his goals. He is familiar with the majority of the grade-level vocabulary. He is proficient in mathematics and shows early interest in sciences. While his speed and accuracy of reading fast were currently lacking, he was able to accurately comprehend the ideas in the text presented to him. His weaknesses are the following. He is not fluent in reading, and because of that, he is often unable to finish tasks in time. His interest in improving his reading skills was low but grew with time. He is slightly shy and is often afraid to ask questions.

The speed of reading and the accuracy of reading were selected as the areas of assessment of the child. After each reading, the time spent on the specific text segment and the number of errors present in the reading were assessed. If the speed of reading did not reach the desired goal of 100 words a minute, then the student was asked to read the text again, after which the assessment of speed and accuracy would be repeated.

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The mediation of the test was conducted when the student reached the next level of improvement. When the text that the student originally found hard to read fast becomes easy to read, the next text, in terms of difficulty, was introduced. The lessons continued until the goal of improving the fluency of the student was reached.

The student has good levels of comprehension. His vocabulary is also representative of the grade level and in most situations did not create any issues for the student. His main problem is in the fluency of reading. When he reads at his regular pace of around 60 words a minute, he understands the text well. He makes almost zero mistakes, with only slight issues. However, whenever his speed is supposed to increase, his number of errors grows.

This prevents him from fully understanding instructions, textbooks, and fiction during class. A student is expected to read at around 100 words per minute, and the majority of tasks are designed with that timeframe in mind. Therefore, his deviation in fluency may affect his grades.

The main strengths of the student in functioning in this particular area are his abilities to comprehend and accurately read at slow speeds. During tasks that involved reading and answering questions about the text, the student has shown a better level of comprehension than his classmates. This was also evident during the fluency lesson, as the understanding of the text shown by the student was very high. His vocabulary also helped to avoid the majority of common mistakes. However, the obstacles in this area would include the difficulty in motivation to sustain the improved reading speed and accuracy because it may start to decline if it is not practiced outside of the regular lessons.

The main instructional strategies were focused on establishing the importance of reading and how faster reading can be achieved. The student benefited from putting the issue into the context of studies. Also, the benefits of faster reading were discussed. This included information about how faster reading can be used in everyday life and its benefits. Otherwise, the instructional measures included explanations on the meaning of unfamiliar words and examination of the errors that the student makes while reading. The examination and explanation portion was always conducted after the text was read in full to not distract the child from reading. The explanations and examinations were designed to improve the speed and accuracy of repeated readings of the text during the lesson.

The post-test showed that after the last lesson, the fluency of the student increased dramatically. The reading speed of the student increased from 60 words per minute to 102 words per minute over the course of 20 lessons. His accuracy when reading at high speed also increased. The initial number of errors during fast reading was at 20 words out of 200. During the post-test, this number was reduced to 2 errors. The results of the post-test indicated that the student became more accurate while speed reading, which means that he became more fluent in his reading ability.

While the lesson had a positive effect on the student, it does not guarantee that his reading ability will maintain the current levels of speed and accuracy. Since repeating the same lessons indefinitely is not a viable option due to the limited time and resources of the school, an intervention should be developed to assist the student in maintaining the achieved results. Since the lesson involved reading small sections of text multiple times, it would not be a difficult exercise to reproduce in the home setting.

The student would only need to select a book, paper, or any other material with sections of about 200 words and repeatedly try to read them fast and accurate. His family could monitor the activity in the first few instances, but subsequently, the student may perform it solo.

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I evaluate my execution of the project positively. The initial disinterest of the student at the prospect of improving his reading fluency was a difficult barrier to overcome. However, through careful and engaging discussion of the benefits of fluency, I was able to change his mind. Subsequently, I assisted him with every word that was not a part of his vocabulary by explaining its meaning, putting it in context of the text, and presenting multiple examples of how it can be used.

The errors that the student made were discussed in a similar fashion, and eventually, the majority of them were eliminated. When the student started to feel the improvements of his fluency, he became very interested in further lessons, and no issues were encountered even during the post-test. The student was satisfied with his accomplishments, his work on school tasks became easier, and overall the project was completed according to the research it was based on.


Curriculum-based dynamic assessment may be used as an effective tool to assist students who have special needs or difficulties of another type. By creating a lesson plan and using dynamic assessment with pre-test, mediation, and post-test, the student was able to improve his reading speed and accuracy over the course of 20 lessons. The lesson plan was based on some of the most relevant scholarly studies of techniques to improve reading speed and fluency.

They stated that repeating reading is one of the most effective methods of addressing such issues and the post-test showed this to be true. The teacher’s explanations, suggestions, and discussions helped the student better understand the presented texts and develop his fluency. The dynamic assessment model is highly flexible. Therefore, similar strategies may be used in other situations that require special attention.


Haywood, H. C., & Lidz, C. S. (2006). Dynamic Assessment in Practice: Clinical and Educational Applications (1 edition). Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Karpov, Y., & Tzuriel, D. (2009). Dynamic Assessment: Progress, Problems, and Prospects. Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 8(3), 228–237. Web.

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