Subject Area



The purpose of this study was to describe reading instruction within the Response to Intervention (RTI) framework for students with ID and autism in three areas: a) participation in universal screening, b) reading growth across the school year on the screening measure (NWEA MAP-R, iStation ISIP, or DIBELS), and c) describe and compare business-as-usual reading instruction within general education and special education classrooms. Using an adapted model for literacy for students with severe disabilities, I explored the participation in and reading growth on universal screening measures and compared growth to classroom instructional practices for target students within this population. I sampled a total of 154 elementary students with intellectual disability or autism across three school districts. I describe their growth relative to the national normative group, their typically-developing district peers, and other students identified with a special education designation. A more in depth case study of eight students was conducted to explore if there were plausible explanations of how literacy skills were being taught to students within this population and whether their instruction varied from the general education setting to special education setting. Students with intellectual disability and autism have low participation rates in universal screening. Students with ID show growth until third grade while students with autism showed promising growth across grade level. Phonics and word study dominated instruction in the lower elementary grades while comprehension was emphasized in upper elementary. Across all students in the case study, there was no evidence of instruction in fluency or vocabulary.

Degree Date

Summer 8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name



Teaching and Learning


Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Yovanoff

Third Advisor

Dr. Jill Allor

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Francesca Jones

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Chris Lemons

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License