Reading Development: Chall's Model (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on May 1, 2014

Stage 4 (High School) In Stage 4, students must deal with more than one viewpoint. Topics in textbooks are treated in greater depth and from more than one viewpoint. Dealing with more than one set of facts, competing theories, and multiple interpretations provides not only multiple viewpoints, but knowledge of how to acquire new points of view and how to acquire increasingly complex concepts. Study skills and practice in efficient reading are beneficial at this stage.

Stage 5 (Age 18 and Above) At this highest stage of reading development, readers can read materials in the degree of detail and completeness that is needed to serve their purposes. Readers select materials to serve their purposes; they know what not to read as well as what to read. They analyze, synthesize, and make judgments about what they read. They balance their own comprehension of the words with their analysis of the content and their own ideas about the topic. At this stage, reading is constructive. The reader constructs knowledge and understanding from reading what others have written.

Chall (1983) attempted to prevent misunderstanding of her model by elaborating the following points:

  1. The ages or grades at which the stages occur are approximate.
  2. Whether reading develops as described at any given stage depends, to a considerable extent, upon the instruction that is provided in the classroom and/or at home.
  3. Development at each stage is dependent upon adequate development at the prior stages. For example, Stage 1 reading is dependent upon the development of language in Stage 0; rhyming, alliteration, and vocabulary are particularly important prerequisites to beginning reading instruction. Reading development in Stage 4 (i.e., critical reading) is dependent upon the acquisition of a rich base of information and vocabulary in Stage 3.
  4. The reading stages are not discrete; they are continuous and overlapping. For example, although most spelling-sound correspondences are learned in Stage 1, other more complex correspondences are learned throughout Stages 3 and 4 and perhaps even Stage 5. And, even though fluent passage reading does not become a clear focus of reading development until Stage 2, the rudiments of fluency are developing in Stage 1. Also, although comprehension is not emphasized in Stages 1 and 2, literal comprehension of simple passages is inherent in the development of word recognition skills (Stage 1) and fluency (Stage 2). Although not discrete, each of the stages is associated with particular aspects of development that are of primary importance.

A stage model has important implications for individualization of instruction. Because development at each stage is dependent upon adequate development at the prior stages, it is necessary that educators conduct assessments to determine students' levels of development. Assessments provide the information that will enable educators to provide children with instruction that starts where they are and then build on that base to help children advance to the higher levels. For example, the child who lacks knowledge of rhyming and alliteration (Stage 0) will need some instruction in those skills before moving on to the more formal phonics instruction that is associated with Stage 1. The child who lacks knowledge of most of the letter-sound correspondences will need some instruction in those basic phonics skills before fluency of passage reading is emphasized. The child who has not yet "learned to read" will need instruction in one or more aspects of decoding and fluency before moving on to the "reading to learn" stages. And, similarly, the child who has not acquired sufficient information and vocabulary in Stage 3 will likely have great difficulty when confronted with the need to deal with different viewpoints in Stage 5; explicit teaching of vocabulary and background knowledge will be necessary.

Stanovich (1988) coined the term "Matthew Effect" to describe the educational dilemma that students face throughout their schooling when they are expected to perform at particular levels even though they lack prerequisite knowledge and skills. Children who begin school with little or no phonemic awareness have difficulty learning letter-sound correspondences and therefore have trouble with word recognition. When word recognition places too many demands on cognitive capacity, less cognitive attention is available for allocation to higher-level comprehension processes. Trying to read for meaning without the necessary cognitive resources is not a rewarding experience. Unrewarding early experiences squelch motivation and lead to less involvement in reading-related activities. This lack of involvement, and therefore lack of practice, further delays the development of automatic word recognition. The negative spiral of cumulative disadvantage continues and troublesome emotional side effects begin to be associated with school experiences. The emotional problems, in turn, present yet another hindrance to school achievement.

In contrast, children who develop efficient decoding processes quickly and easily find reading enjoyable because they can concentrate on the meaning of the text. They read more; the additional exposure and practice further develops their reading abilities. The "Matthew Effect" analogy is used frequently to explain the rich-get-richer and poor-get-poorer effects that are embedded in the educational process. The term derives from the Gospel according to Matthew: "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath."

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