In chapter six, Gunning spends more time discussing reading assessments, explaining how teachers need to not only look at how a student does on reading assessments like an IRI, but also to take into account the cognitive, school and home factors of the child. Gunning posits, “In order to get a fuller understanding of the student’s background, it is important to obtain a case history from the parents or other primary caregivers” (169). Gunning also believes that talking directly to the student and asking him what he’s having trouble with or what he dislikes most about reading will give you a better understanding of the child’s problem (172).
I agree wholeheartedly that both the child and the parents should be involved in the assessment processing, since they have a better understanding than the teacher or psychologist on what is going on with the student. However, Gunning seems to take for granted that all parents are going to be involved in their child’s education. He doesn’t take into account those parents who treat school as a glorified daycare center and who could care less about how their child is doing academically as long as he or she is out of their hair. Parents with this abysmal attitude are not going to willingly offer to take a questionnaire or come to school for a conference so they can answer questions on pregnancy, early years of physical health and development, language and literacy development, school history and home factors.
Furthermore, there are also cases where parents are in denial about their child’s disability. They’ll point fingers at the teacher, the curriculum or the entire school system before they will admit that their child might have some learning and/or cognitive difficulties. It is challenging in itself just to get these parents to arrive at the understanding that their child needs extra help and that it’s OK and nothing to be ashamed about. Before handing out any questionnaire to parents, the teacher needs to first understand the parents own attitude toward learning impairments. It can be a very difficult task telling parents or guardians that their child is having trouble reading and needs intervention. In any situation like this, tactfulness, respect and reassurance are required.
Thomas G. Gunning, Assessing and Correcting: Reading and Writing Difficulties, rev. ed. (Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 2010), 169-174.