Understanding Reading Problems: Assessment and Instruction (5th Edition)

Gillet, Jean Wallace; Temple, Charles A.

ISBN 10: 0321013336 / 0-321-01333-6
ISBN 13: 9780321013330
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Hardcover
About this title:
This market-leading text helps teachers create engaged readers at all age levels, from primary grades through adolescence, through its comprehensive exploration of strategies for reading assessment and instruction. Heavily revised, the new edition maintains its focus on struggling readers and emphasizes classroom-based, rather than clinical, approaches. Understanding Reading Problems, 5/e, integrates case studies and a reader friendly style with the latest research.

From the Inside Flap:

Helping all students to become effective, strategic readers who read and write enthusiastically and purposefully is one of the greatest challenges facing teachers today. Teachers need to know how to

use a wide variety of teaching methods, materials, and strategies to help children learn to read,

monitor and document students' progress, strengths, and needs,

diagnose difficulties in reading and related areas,

apply corrective instruction when appropriate, and

prevent literacy problems from arising in the future.

To do so, teachers need well-informed diagnostic judgment and the tools and strategies to monitor students' development effectively. Such strategies and tools must be flexible and practical, tapping the kinds of everyday reading and writing that students use in and out of the classroom.

Teachers must also undertake corrective instruction within the context of regular ongoing instruction, without setting problem readers apart from others. Such diagnostic and instructional strategies are the heart of this book.

When the first edition of this book appeared in 1982, we wrote in that preface that the field of reading education was undergoing exciting changes. In each successive edition, we have reiterated this thought, because it remained true. The first few editions saw the growing use of informal diagnostic techniques gradually supplant the use of formal, standardized diagnostic tests, as well as a growing responsibility for classroom teachers to undertake their own diagnostic assessment. Basal reading systems and skills management systems, once the linchpin of reading instruction, were challenged by literature-based approaches and collaborative learning.

Today, new emphases on authentic assessment that accurately represents what students can do challenge our thinking about measurement and evaluation. Simultaneously, many states are struggling to define ways to increase student achievement and ensure accountability to the public. Today's teachers are expected to use continuous developmental assessment devices; to use portfolios of student work to demonstrate and evaluate student achievement; to teach reading using authentic literature and a wide variety of teaching methods; to integrate reading and writing across all curricular areas; and to help all students, regardless of their level of literacy, to become effective, strategic readers.

This book provides the kind of clear, detailed, realistic help teachers need to fulfill these expectations.

The concepts and principles that guided the development of the first four editions, and which made this book a leader in its field, have been strengthened and expanded in the fifth edition. We have

updated and expanded our treatment of important trends in research and practice, including emergent literacy, portfolio assessment, strategic reading, literature-based instruction, learning English as a second language, and developmentally appropriate assessment and instruction;

described the primary purposes for assessment and the important differences between assessments for internal and external audiences;

expanded and elaborated upon our extensive coverage of instructional approaches and methods, including new material on emergent literacy, beginning and developmental literacy, the development of reading strategies, word recognition, developing predictive thinking, teaching adolescent poor readers, increasing students' time spent reading, and content-area reading strategies; and

added all-new material on teaching students whose first language is other than English and on authentic assessment, with an emphasis on lifelong literacy.

Convincing case studies of real readers and examples of real students, work are used throughout the book to illustrate points and help users develop diagnosticcorrective judgment.

The fifth edition examines both traditional and contemporary means of assessing reading strengths and needs, as well as developmental and corrective instruction; our goal has been to combine the best tried-and-true methods with the best new strategies for diagnosing and teaching. Emphasis is placed on preventing reading problems by providing necessary experiences for children to develop and progress as readers, as well as on correction and remediation.

The first five chapters comprise Part One, dealing with assessment topics and issues. Chapter 1 describes what teachers need to know about the reading process and its assessment, including the internal and external audiences for assessment data, an overview of reading developmental stages, and an introduction to principles that underlie authentic assessment.

Chapter 2 describes various types of ongoing assessments teachers often use, including running records, systematic observation of students, reading strategies, the use of cloze procedures, and monitoring growth in spelling and composition.

Chapter 3 details widely used methods for the periodic, in-depth assessment of reading progress, including how to select, administer, score and interpret informal reading inventories and related devices.

Chapter 4 describes in detail the purposes of classroom portfolios and how to begin and manage a portfolio assessment program. Included are strategies for enlisting the support of administrators and parents, conferring with parents and fostering students' self-evaluation.

Chapter 5 deals with formal assessments, including fundamental measurement concepts, characteristics of tests, norm-referenced and criterion-referenced tests, and minimum competency tests.

The remaining six chapters deal primarily with instructional topics and issues.

Chapter 6 details the stages of emergent and beginning reading, including assessing and teaching print concepts and phonemic awareness, fostering reading comprehension, and early intervention programs.

Chapter 7 deals with teaching developing readers who are beyond the beginning reading stage. Developing word recognition strategies, including sight recognition and word analysis strategies, reading fluency, and reading and listening comprehension are major themes. The critical issue of how much time students spend actually reading is discussed, with implications for teachers and parents.

Chapter 8 deals with teaching older students and adolescents who are reluctant or disabled readers. The special challenges of dealing with older beginning readers are detailed, with authentic case studies and a wealth of instructional recommendations.

Chapter 9 details how students progress to mature reading and writing, in which students are no longer learning to read but are now using reading to learn. The reading-to-learn operations of anticipation, investigation, and reflection are described with numerous teaching strategies. Predictable patterns of nonfiction text organization and effective vocabulary teaching are presented.

Chapter 10 an entirely new chapter in the fifth edition, describes strategies for teaching reading and writing to students whose first language is not English. Principles and processes of second language learning and bilingualism are detailed, along with ways to adapt phonics, decoding and spelling instruction for students who may struggle with some English phonemes, and scaffolding to improve comprehension of written English.

Chapter 11 deals with philosophical, legal, and instructional issues related to the teaching of students with special learning needs. Relevant legislation, issues of inclusion, and ways of identifying and assessing special-needs students are outlined. Intellectual factors and tests of intelligence and learning aptitude, physical factors related to vision and hearing, language development and disorders, and the special challenges of learning disabilities and dyslexia are discussed.

As in the previous four editions, we are indebted to a growing list of friends, colleagues, and strangers for their influence advice and encouragement. Our friend and colleague Alan Crawford wrote Chapter 10 and gave us invaluable insight and support. Samuel R. Mathews II and Josephine Peyton Young provided generous contributions to the fourth edition which are still felt in this edition. Jackson-Via Elementary School's Karyl Reynolds, media specialist, and Tracy Snead, first-grade teacher, contributed their special expertise in the development of bibliographies and literature searches, as well as their friendship and support. Our colleagues in the Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking Project—Jeannie Steele, Kurt Meredith, Scott Walter, Donna Ogle, and Alan Crawford-along with 70 volunteer teacher educators and hundreds of international colleagueshave deeply affected our thinking on reading-to-learn issues.

We are grateful for the careful reading and insightful criticism of our fifth edition manuscript reviewers: Mariam Jean Dreher, University of Maryland; Lee A. Dubert, Boise State University; Ann Harris, Austin Peay State University; Ellen Jampole, SUNY Cordand; Barbara Laster, Towson University; David C. Little, Samford University; Patrick McCabe, Nova Southeastern University; Richard Osterberg, California State University, Fresno; Barbara Pugh, California State University, Bakersfield; Mark Sadoski, Texas A&M University; and Rebecca Swearingen, Southwest Missouri State University. We also gratefully acknowledge the many helpful suggestions we have received since the first edition appeared from the reviewers and users of previous editions.

We also extend our heartfelt thanks to our editor, Virginia Blanford, and her staff at Addison Wesley Longman; our editor on previous editions, Christopher Dennison; and to Susan Free and the production staff at York Production Services.

Finally, we are grateful to our students and colleagues at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Mary Baldwin College, and the Charlottesville, Virginia, Public Schools. Many, many people helped make this book what it is; we acknowledge their many influences with gratitude and offer our work to you with pride.

Jean Wallace Gillet Charles Temple

From the Back Cover:

Gillet: Understanding Reading Problems, 7/e


The seventh edition of Understanding Reading Problems continues to feature classroom-based, teacher-driven approaches to reading assessment and remediation.


Popular authors Jean Gillet, Charles Temple, and Alan Crawford maintain their focus on struggling readers, with significant new coverage of ELL and of readers with special needs. The authors integrate authentic vignettes and case studies with clear, vivid writing featuring the latest research. Expanded coverage of portfolio assessment, lexiles and guided reading levels, running records, developmental spelling stages, emergent literacy assessments, assessing and teaching students with limited English proficiency, and practical strategies for adapting instruction for special-needs students in inclusive classrooms make this seventh edition the most current and complete resource in its field.



Your colleagues rave about Understanding Reading Problems:


“It is an ideal book for experienced and inexperienced teachers learning how to better address students with reading problems. Overall, I really love the text.”

            -Lucille A. Smassanow, SUNY New Paltz


 “One of the major strengths of this textbook is the breakdown of strategies by developmental level. The authors highlight the importance of differentiating effective strategies by devoting a chapter to each age level.”

            -Deborah E. Bordelon, Xavier University of Louisiana


“Chapter 10 was one of the reasons why I decided to change to this text. I was looking for a text that specifically addressed English Language Learners and the ever-increasing number of students who are within elementary classrooms with these needs.”

            -Bonnie Hoewing, University of Northern Iowa


What’s new in the seventh edition?

  • Completely revised chapter 10 on teaching reading and writing with English language learners, including updates on the legal and statutory requirements, demographics and implications of NCLB for English learners.
  • New and expanded coverage of special needs students.
  • Two-paged special issues section in several chapters covers topics like setting up and managing tutoring programs, working with families, and using electronic media.
  • Includes new coverage of adolescents with reading problems in Chapter 8.


"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Gillet, Jean Wallace; Temple, Charles A.
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