> > Thus, if this analytical process is not intact, > either because of disability (dyslexia, most notably, > but hearing impairment*, brain injury, can also > disrupt this process), or because the underlying > skills are not taught, fluent reading cannot develop > except in those children fortunate enough to come by > those analytical skills naturally (probably > representing less than half of us). >
> > The good news is, with early, quality instruction in > phonetic analysis, the brain activation patterns in > dyslexic brains look more and more like the patterns > in proficient readers. And this early instruction > benefits all students, even those who don't need it > to read (maybe a good analogy would be doing the long > division algorithm but also understanding why it > works). And for those students who fall in between, > quality reading instruction helps those brain > activation patterns to become more efficient. >
I should have added that the latest brain imaging studies are starting to tease apart different groups of poor readers. The classic dyslexic is born with a glitch in the posterior reading systems, and generally has strong verbal/vocabulary/comprehension abilities that help him compensate somewhat, improving accuracy but not fluency. Another group are those who have developed into poor readers because of lack of appropriate experiences - a combination of poor reading instruction and a disadvantaged language environment at home. For these students, the wiring is there but it is not activated appropriately. They read both inaccurately and slowly, and with poor comprehension.
Again, the good news is that early, quality reading instruction activates the necessary reading systems. In my opinion, this would be the most effective approach to reducing the achievement gap.
Kids from disadvantaged circumstances are hit with a multiple whammy. Not only are they exposed to much less language, spoken and in print, not only are they in failing schools, but research shows that reading disabilities are underdiagnosed in disadvantaged children, especially minority children. There is some ugly history there, but inexcusable with the knowledge we have now.