Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Special Education

First Advisor

Mundschenk, Nancy


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the PALS instructional approach on the decoding, fluency, and comprehension performance levels of elementary students with different disability labels (e.g. learning disability, other health impairment, and mental impairment) receiving services in a fifth grade self-contained cross-categorical classroom. An additional purpose of the current study was to examine student acceptability and satisfaction with the PALS intervention. Participants of the present study included 12 fifth grade students placed in a self-contained cross-categorical classroom who were three to four years below grade level in terms of reading performance. PALS was conducted in the experimental classroom three times per week for over 20 weeks. Reading decoding, fluency, and comprehension were measured before and after treatment utilizing assessments including the Dolch Sight Word List, DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF), DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency (DORF), and the Reading subtest of the K-TEA, Brief Form. Decoding and fluency DIBELS NWF and ORF probes were utilized weekly for progress monitoring purposes in order to create graphs to compare student progress during baseline and intervention phases. In addition, a student satisfaction survey was administered as a posttest to determine student acceptability. Results indicate moderate gains on decoding, fluency, and comprehension measures for most students; however, the gains were not sufficient to bring students to grade level in terms of reading performance. Data obtained from the student satisfaction survey indicated that students enjoyed PALS overall and perceived a certain level of benefit from the intervention. Implications for future research and possible manipulations of PALS in special education settings are discussed.




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