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Develop a creative presentation. Your topic is INFORMATIONAL TEXT-
Text Structures (also known as text frames).
1. You will do a google search for the key words/ terms. Review what
you find, watch videos and select one that helps to explain the
concept. Introduce and explain the different types.
2. Develop slides that cover the topical area. E.g. What are Text
structures? What are they used for? How are they helpful for literacy –
reading? writing? listening? speaking?
3. What does the research say about the use of text structures in the
curriculum? I will provide you with one research article which you will
review thoroughly as a part of your presentation. You will find a 2nd
primary research article that supports/ refutes the use of text
structures. Present that article as well.
4. Based on your review, what are some implications for intervention?
Also include how this can help teachers, students, parents and other
professional careers that might find this helpful like a speech
5. Include a short video that describe how to use it in the slides.
6. 15-20 slides


Reading and Writing (2018) 31:1923–


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  • Text structure instruction: the research is moving forward
  • Joanna P. Williams1

    Published online: 22 September 2018
    © Springer Nature B.V. 2018

    No one disputes the importance of reading comprehension. It is an absolute req-
    uisite for success in school and in life. Thus, it is strange that instruction in com-
    prehension has only recently become a high priority within the reading curriculum.
    Throughout most of American history, reading instruction has been focused on word
    recognition, either through some type of phonics training, more or less explicit, or
    else through an inductive, indirect approach. Attention to comprehension has been
    minimal, provided mainly via vocabulary instruction. Years ago, grammar instruc-
    tion was also common, often accomplished through sentence-diagramming exer-
    cises. This instruction touched on aspects of comprehension as we understand the
    term today. However, the focus on grammar died out.

    It was not until Dolores Durkin’s influential paper appeared, in which she
    described the dearth of genuine reading instruction in our schools (Durkin,
    1978–1979) that we acknowledged that children were being grossly short-changed.
    Even though most children were learning to “break the code” and could read at
    least somewhat fluently, a substantial proportion of them did not understand what
    they read. Now, a few decades later, the amount of research on comprehension has
    skyrocketed, and we have new models of reading comprehension that have heav-
    ily influenced educators. The prominence of comprehension instruction in today’s
    schools reflects our greatly changed view of the importance of this topic.

    One thing that we have realized is how important text genre can be. Narrative
    text, which is generally easier to understand, is usually the genre of choice for begin-
    ning instruction. Before they start school, children are exposed to a great deal of nar-
    ration, through watching TV and movies, and through listening to bedtime stories
    as well as to adults’ conversations (Williams & Pao, 2011). The content of these
    narratives is likely to be relatively familiar, which helps understanding. And nar-
    rative tends to follow a single structure, in which plot events are sequenced along a
    causal-temporal line.

    But early exposure to expository text is also essential (Duke & Bennett-Armi-
    stead, 2003). Reading expository text increases domain knowledge, which in turn
    leads to increased vocabulary, fluency, and motivation (Guthrie, Anderson, Alao,

    * Joanna P. Williams

    1 Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

    1924 J. P. Williams

    1 3

    & Rinehart, 1999). However, understanding expository text is often a challenge,
    especially for children with language and other learning difficulties. Children who
    do not receive sufficient early exposure to, and instruction about, expository text
    are likely to have more and more difficulty with reading as they proceed through
    the grades (Kucan & Beck, 1997). By the time they reach the sixth grade, the
    majority of children’s school reading assignments are expository texts, and these
    children encounter serious problems in meeting academic demands.

    Lack of exposure is only one of the reasons for the relative difficulty of exposi-
    tory text. In addition, exposition often tends to deal with more challenging con-
    tent; the ideas are less familiar and often more complex than those in narrative
    text (Kucan & Beck, 1997). Moreover, expository text is not structured as sim-
    ply as is narrative text; there are several basic expository structures (Calfee &
    Chambliss, 1988; Meyer, 1985).

    Unfortunately, some teachers spend very little time in their classrooms on
    expository text (Williams & Pao, 2011). And sometimes those who do focus on
    such text are burdened by textbooks that are badly organized and poorly written.
    Teachers often respond by reading the texts aloud to their students instead of try-
    ing to teach them to read and understand the texts by themselves. Obviously this
    is not a good solution—it takes away opportunities for students to learn. Moreo-
    ver, while teachers who read to their class may side-step difficulties due to decod-
    ing problems, the students are often still getting their information from disorgan-
    ized texts.

    In the late 1990s, when the National Reading Panel (NRP) was convened to exam-
    ine the existing research literature and to synthesize our knowledge about beginning
    instruction, the new thinking about comprehension had only recently been intro-
    duced. The NRP Report (2000) on comprehension included a chapter on vocabulary,
    of course; vocabulary is always a prominent topic in a reading program no matter
    what the current educational focus. The Report also focused on cognitive strategies,
    a new approach in which comprehension instruction is conceptualized as the teach-
    ing of ways in which a student can consciously and deliberately approach a text in
    order to uncover its meaning. One such strategy (that had generated a substantial
    amount of research before the NRP panel reviewed the literature) is to use back-
    ground knowledge. That is, students who are about to read a text are told to consider
    what they already know about the topic. Information that they activate from their
    store of knowledge, when incorporated with the new information presented in the
    text, will aid in their comprehension. Another commonly taught cognitive strategy
    is self-monitoring, that is, stopping occasionally while reading, in order to reflect on
    whether one is fully understanding what one is reading, and, if one is not, to reread
    the text. The NRP Report was very influential and ensured that the cognitive strat-
    egy approach was solidly entrenched as the way to teach reading comprehension.

    Text structure was another item in NRP’s rather lengthy list of cognitive strat-
    egies. Since the Report was published, however, text structure has emerged as
    a topic in its own right. Arguably, text structure did not belong in the list of
    cognitive strategies in the first place. The classic notion of cognitive strategy
    implies either that readers are monitoring their own reading activity to evalu-
    ate its effectiveness or that they are performing some additional activity while


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    Text structure instruction: the research is moving forward

    reading, such as trying to remember previously acquired information that might
    help them understand the text in front of them.

    It is true that readers consciously attend to text structure when they decide
    to read titles and paragraph headings in order to get an overview of a text. In
    that sense one might consider the use of text structure as a cognitive strategy.
    However, there are structural cues of all sorts within text, some easy to identify
    and some rather subtle. Most of the research on text structure deals with normal
    reading, in which the instruction is geared toward getting the reader to respond
    to such textual cues without paying undue attention to them. This instruction
    is straightforward, similar to phonics instruction. We teach beginners letter-
    sound correspondences and a method of combining the sounds represented by
    the letters into words. But we expect that fluent readers will be able to recognize
    words automatically without consciously attending to their phonics skills. In the
    same way that I would not consider that fluent readers typically use their phon-
    ics skills as a strategy (though they might do so when reading scientific text or
    Russian novels), I would not consider that fluent readers typically use their text
    structure skills as a cognitive strategy. Of course, faced with a stumbling-block
    in the text, the fluent reader can quite deliberately go back to using text structure
    skills to work through the difficulty and reach a good level of understanding.

    The seminal work on expository text structure was done by Meyer (1975).
    She posited that readers understand a text more readily if they recognize the
    specific structure according to which the writer has organized the text. They will
    then be able to use the writer’s structure to create their own mental representa-
    tion of the text. The five basic structures identified by Meyer are description,
    sequence, comparison, cause-effect, and problem–solution. These structures are
    really representations of rhetorical structures. Fundamental concepts such as
    causality and comparison arise initially through perception and action during the
    first year of life (Saxe, Tzelnic, & Carey, 2007). As these primitive understand-
    ings mature and language develops, discourse patterns basic to both oral and
    written language that express these concepts appear (Williams et al., 2016). It is
    the ability to transfer what is known about these structures in oral language to
    written language that is the goal of teaching text structure.

    Meyer’s analysis fits in well with Kintsch’s (1998, 2004) more comprehensive
    construction-integration model of reading comprehension. In this model, text
    information activates readers’ background knowledge, and then this activated
    knowledge is integrated with the information presented in the text. Signals in the
    text, including order of mention, repetition, clue words, etc., indicate relation-
    ships among pieces of information and affect the amount of activation given to
    certain pieces. In this way, the reader is guided to identify the macrostructure
    of the text (the important information) and to organize it into a coherent mental
    representation. When the text is not well structured, readers must expend cog-
    nitive resources on creating their own organization, which may or may not be
    effective in deriving the writer’s purpose and argument.

    1926 J. P. Williams

    1 3

    Close analysis of texts with structure (CATS)

    I was asked to contribute to this special issue by writing an introduction that
    would include some discussion of my own work on the topic. When I started
    thinking about using text structure as the focal point of an intervention, it was not
    the popular topic of research that it has now become. Meyer had made substan-
    tial contributions (as she is continuing to do), but not many investigators had yet
    followed suit. Meyer was working with adults and students at the middle school
    level (fourth and fifth-graders). I became interested in what one might do in the
    way of using text structure as the focus of instruction with younger children. I
    decided to work at the second-grade level, because I wanted to make sure that
    students had sufficient reading skill to be able to focus on structure.

    My program combined explicit instruction in reading comprehension and con-
    tent-area instruction. I specified as its goals (a) ensuring that children could use
    their knowledge of basic rhetorical structures in reading as they already could use
    them in listening, and (b) laying the foundation for further development of their
    comprehension of these structures in both reading and listening.

    I call the intervention Close Analysis of Texts with Structure (CATS). I first
    described it in a 2004 paper (Williams, Hall, & Lauer, 2004). The intervention
    is designed to serve as supplemental instruction for general education class-
    rooms, especially for struggling readers in those classrooms. With adaptations it
    can be differentiated for use with students who have learning disabilities. The
    instructional model includes both direct and strategic instruction (Kame’enui &
    Carnine, 1998; Pressley, 1998), which when used together, produce the largest
    effect sizes for at risk learners (Swanson & Hoskyn, 1998). The instruction is
    structured, explicit, scaffolded, and intensive. It proceeds systematically from the
    simple to the complex, and it provides substantial practice at each step. The tasks
    are meaningful and interesting; they include specially-designed training materials
    (texts) that provide simple, clear templates that exhibit instructional points (Wil-
    liams et  al., 2014). My graduate students, cohort after cohort, have participated
    fully in all stages of the development of the intervention and its evaluation.

    The core of the instruction consists of the close analysis of short paragraphs of
    well-structured text that embody each of the five basic text structures. I believe
    that a deep and extensive study of a series of clear examples of a given structure
    will help students become familiar with the way in which these basic patterns
    are manifested in print and will lead to a strengthening of their mental represen-
    tations of the structures. The instruction guides students through an analysis of
    well-structured paragraphs, and they become familiar with basic structure pat-
    terns. To aid in this analysis, we teach children to use three well-documented
    strategies in their analysis of text: clue words (e.g., next; unlike; because), tar-
    geted questions, and graphic organizers. Goldman and Rakestraw (2000) have
    presented ample evidence that each of these three strategies is effective in help-
    ing readers identify global discourse structure and establish local coherence. The
    analysis of prototypical texts, accomplished with the help of these three strate-
    gies, comprises the core of the CATS program. The lessons also include common


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    Text structure instruction: the research is moving forward

    instructional components: trade book reading by the teacher followed by discus-
    sion, vocabulary, and a heavy dose of writing, so that the instructional setting is
    well within the context of a typical elementary-level lesson in the language arts.

    The content of our intervention covers a typical second-grade social studies cur-
    riculum. Units focus on five historical communities in the United States: Native
    Americans, colonists, pioneers, immigrants, and urban residents. Students learn
    about the homes, schools, jobs, and other features of these communities.

    We developed the procedures for the text analysis and the strategies for each indi-
    vidual text structure through an iterative series of develop-tryout-test cycles with
    small groups of children. We did small-scale randomized clinical trials, each one on
    a single text structure (Williams et al., 2005, 2007, 2009, 2014). Then we developed
    our year-long comprehensive intervention (Williams et al., 2016), which included all
    five text structures.

    We evaluated our complete intervention in second-grade classrooms drawn
    from NYC elementary schools (Williams et  al., 2016). Classrooms were randomly
    assigned to three conditions, all of which received the school’s regular reading
    instruction; the intervention was a twice-a-week supplement. Students in one condi-
    tion (CATS) received the text structure intervention. In another condition (No Inter-
    vention) there was no intervention. The third condition provided a much more strin-
    gent control. Classrooms in this group used a version of our intervention that was
    the same as the CATS intervention in all respects except one. That is, it included the
    same content and the same materials (books, tasks, tests), and the number of lessons
    and mean amount of time spent on them did not differ. However, students in this
    latter condition received no text structure training. We called this the Content condi-
    tion, because it essentially focused on the social studies content—information about
    the five U.S. communities.

    Students in classrooms that received the CATS intervention scored significantly
    higher than those in the No Intervention classrooms on the comprehension post-
    test, as assessed by their written summaries of five novel paragraphs, one of each
    structure. Specifically, they were better able to report the main idea as well as the
    important information about the main idea, and better able to identify the particular
    structure of the paragraphs. These measures, most of which were derived from the
    paragraph summaries, comprised our basic reading comprehension measures.

    The CATS students were also superior on measures of transfer, i.e., on measures
    based on comprehension tasks other than those that were featured in the instruc-
    tion. These included a measure based on a sentence completion task involving social
    studies content and two measures based on written summaries of natural text taken
    from authentic reading materials (children’s trade books), which, as is characteristic
    of such material, were not well structured. All three transfer measures showed sig-
    nificant differences in favor of the CATS condition. The test items that were based
    on natural text represented a level of transfer that is difficult to achieve; here, the
    effect sizes were smaller than the effect sizes on the other measures (though they
    were still significant). If I were to extend this intervention for use in higher grades, I
    would include explicit instruction that uses exemplars of the various text structures
    as they appear in natural prose. Our instructional paragraphs did get progressively
    longer and more complex as instruction continued, but they did not include text as

    1928 J. P. Williams

    1 3

    ill-structured as we sometimes see in books and magazines. However, I would still
    make certain that the students were given initial instruction based on well-struc-
    tured paragraphs; I believe that this was an important factor in the success of the

    More interesting was the fact that we found that the superiority of the CATS stu-
    dents on these comprehension measures also occurred in comparisons with students
    in the Content classrooms. In fact, the Content classrooms and the No Intervention
    classrooms did not differ on any of these measures. This suggests that explicit and
    systematic instruction about text structure is necessary. We cannot rely simply on
    providing exposure to structured texts if we want to make an impact on children’s

    In contrast, on measures assessing the amount of social studies content that was
    learned, the CATS classrooms and the Content classrooms did not differ, and stu-
    dents in both of these conditions scored higher than students in the No Intervention
    classrooms. Thus we can embed text structure training in content-area instruction
    without sacrificing acquisition of the academic content. This is important; it would
    be less than optimal if it turned out that we could improve reading comprehension
    only at the expense of the content-area instruction.

    We were fortunate to be able to go through multiple development-try out-test
    cycles on each individual text structure before producing the final complete inter-
    vention (which also involved multiple iterations). As we worked, we made many
    modifications that improved the instruction in one way or another. Most were small
    changes, but we also made some changes that were rather important from a design
    point of view. First, it became clear very early in our pilot work that the instruction
    typically given to older students in which students used clue words as the initial
    identifiers of a text’s structure (e.g., Wijekumar et  al., 2014), was not appropriate
    for our younger students. Second-graders do not have sufficient reading skill to be
    able to scan text in order to pick out clue words. So we began each paragraph with
    a topic (main idea) sentence that indicated its structure type. Later, perhaps in third
    grade, students would probably have sufficient reading skill to identify clue words
    easily and would be able to work with paragraphs that do not begin with a main idea

    Second, we did not introduce the five structures in the same order as many other
    investigators had introduced them. Description, as defined by Meyer and Freedle
    (1984), is a type of association in which some elements are subordinate to another
    (the topic). In most of the second grade classrooms we were working in, teachers
    were already teaching children this type of simple descriptive structure, which they
    called the information web. A web does not represent structured text at the level of
    the other four structures. In our intervention, the Description structure is more chal-
    lenging: it reflects the idea of an information hierarchy. We taught Description as the
    fourth in the series of five structures.

    We also discovered that it would be best to vary the ways in which we mapped
    the complete structure across the paragraph, and this led to our third modification.
    We organized the Sequence sentences across the entire paragraph. That is, each sen-
    tence in the paragraph represented one step in the sequence. However, in the cau-
    sation paragraphs, the entire structure appeared in individual sentences, i.e., each


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    Text structure instruction: the research is moving forward

    sentence contained both cause and effect, plus a suitable clue word. Our compari-
    son paragraphs were also structured at an individual-sentence level. In the other two
    text structures, Description and Problem/Solution, the complete structure was repre-
    sented in sentence pairs. We found justification for these mappings in several studies
    that have found that organizing instructional tasks at the sentence level is appropri-
    ate for primary-grade children (Berninger, Nagy, & Beers, 2011; Crosson, Lesaux,
    & Martiniello, 2008).

    Across the several studies we conducted, our posttests included both oral and
    written responses on a variety of tasks not used in the intervention. We have found
    that our text structure instruction helps young students comprehend text and acquire
    new vocabulary. Instructional effects transfer to novel text about topics both simi-
    lar to and different from those used in the intervention. We also found that training
    on one structure (compare-contrast) improves the ability to learn a similar structure
    (pro-con). And we have found a little evidence that the intervention makes it easier
    for children to comprehend authentic, ill-structured texts. This of course is the ulti-
    mate goal of text structure instruction—that a reader be able to mentally re-organ-
    ize poorly written text and thereby better comprehend and remember it. Of course,
    reaching this goal would involve instruction and/or practice over years of school-
    ing—well beyond the scope of our intervention project.

    In summary, our work demonstrates the effectiveness of explicit reading compre-
    hension instruction for primary-grade students. It also demonstrates that text struc-
    ture is a useful focus for training. It should be kept in mind, however, that CATS is a
    supplemental program, not a full reading comprehension program. The latter would
    be much more comprehensive. But on the basis of this work as well as that of the
    other researchers who have contributed to the research base, I am prepared to say
    that text structure instruction should be included as a prominent part of a complete
    reading comprehension curriculum.

    I have described the work I have done as an example of what might be considered
    the first generation of text structure research, in which text structure has been shown
    to be useful knowledge for a young reader to acquire, and also that it can be taught
    successfully. Systematic reviews of text structure research (e.g., Ray & Meyer, 2011)
    have collated the substantial amount of literature relevant to the constructing of an
    intervention to teach text structure. In addition, two recent meta-analyses of text
    structure interventions across the grades have been published, and it is clear from
    these that this type of instruction is feasible to do, that it is effective, and that it can
    provide a strong foundation for later progress in reading comprehension (Hebert,
    Bohaty, Nelson, & Lambert, 2016; Pyle et al., 2017).

    The articles in this issue

    Now that we have enough documentation about the importance of text structure
    instruction and its effectiveness, we are ready to move ahead. The papers that com-
    prise this issue indicate that there is indeed a flourishing second generation of rel-
    evant research. The authors have tackled important questions that build on the exist-
    ing evidence of the importance of text structure instruction.

    1930 J. P. Williams

    1 3

    I am going to begin my comments on the individual articles with the study by
    Meyer, Wijekumar, and Lei. Bonnie Meyer is the doyenne of text structure research,
    the one who introduced the topic (Meyer, 1975) and who conducted the earliest stud-
    ies that showed the effectiveness of the text structure strategy. Meyer developed an
    intervention for middle-school students that later she turned into a computer-based
    program, ITSS, which was first introduced in 2002 (Meyer et al., 2002) and which
    has been evaluated extensively in many variations. Over the years a great many stu-
    dents ranging from fourth-graders to retirees have profited from this instructional
    program. A substantial amount of data has been collected—a wonderful resource for
    further study. The article in this issue reports on a close examination of the effects
    of signal words, one of the most salient textual cues as to structure. Using data sets
    from evaluations of the ITSS intervention that yielded data from over 7000 students,
    the authors analyzed a pretest and posttest of generative signaling that had been
    administered across studies. Differences as a function of type of signal word, gender,
    and grade level (grades 4–8) were examined. In addition to providing insights about
    signal words, this study demonstrates the value of designing intervention evalua-
    tions in such a way that they address targeted questions concerning specific aspects
    of the intervention as well as provide an overall evaluation of the intervention.

    Another paper authored by the same research team (Wijekumar, Meyer, Lei, Her-
    nandez, and August) describes SWELL, Spanish instruction on the Web for Eng-
    lish Learners. This intervention provides one-on-one instruction. It responds to the
    challenges that children face when they are learning in a non-dominant language.
    SWELL contains special adaptations, which include vocabulary instruction, contex-
    tual cues, and on-line translations of unfamiliar and difficult words and sentences.
    The authors report on the evaluation of the intervention, which was conducted in
    grades 4 and 5 classrooms in high poverty schools. Results were positive: Students
    who received the intervention showed better performance than students who did not
    receive it on both researcher-developed measures and a standardized test of reading
    comprehension. The authors also examined the effect of moderating factors like ini-
    tial reading level and gender.

    The articles in this issue reflect the fact that the field has devoted most of its atten-
    tion to students in middle school and above. Only a couple of these papers focus on
    the primary grades. They are most welcome! Al Otaiba, Connor, and Crowe present
    three brief interventions, each on a single text structure, and they look at kindergar-
    ten, first and second grade effects. This work is a pilot study for a larger intervention
    study now in progress. The authors use what they call a pattern exploration design,
    carefully thought through to allow evaluation of explicit training on each of the three
    taught structures along with transfer to each of four structures (the three that were
    taught plus one other). The authors’ choice of instructional routines, e.g., reliance on
    clue words and graphic organizers, reflects the consensus in the field about how to
    approach the teaching of text structure. They also included practices less often used
    in text structure research, such as manipulatives to scaffold retells, which appear
    to be particularly useful with young students. Preliminary results from their initial
    work are promising in terms of promoting both acquisition and transfer.

    Van den Broek, Kraal, Koornneef, and Saab also study primary-grade children,
    but their work is of a different nature. They do not conduct an intervention, prepare


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    Text structure instruction: the research is moving forward

    to do one, or examine aspects of a completed intervention. Rather, they ask a more
    fundamental question about how second-graders process text; the answer to this
    question should be of help to future interventionists. They ask whether the same
    intervention is likely to be optimal for all students. An analysis of think-aloud proto-
    cols collected during the reading of both narrative and expository texts indicates that
    children fall into one of two categories. There are those whose mental representation
    of a text tends to conform to the textual information (paraphrasers), and those whose
    processing is more elaborative, which leads to a broader, more wide-ranging repre-
    sentation (elaborators). Also, these two types of readers respond in different ways to
    expository and narrative text. The authors suggest that different types of question-
    ing during instruction might be appropriate for paraphrasers and elaborators. What
    might these findings mean for the instructional model that is the basis for most cur-
    rent text structure interventions?

    A classic question of second-generation research has to do with context. Beer-
    winkle, Wijekumar, Walpole, and Agius consider the context in which text structure
    instruction appears, or, as they put it, the ecological component within a componen-
    tial model of reading. They examine the extent of knowledge that fourth and fifth-
    grade teachers have about text structure, and they also look at the way children’s
    textbooks cover the topic. In addition, they describe their observation of classrooms
    as teachers delivered text structure instruction. Their work indicates that there is
    considerable room for improvement on all counts. Beerwinkle and her colleagues
    are persuasive on the point that research to improve text structure instruction should
    continue, but that we need to extend our efforts beyond simply developing excellent
    instructional materials. We must also ameliorate the context in which the instruction

    How does the ability to deal with text structure, a rather specific and circum-
    scribed aspect of reading comprehension, fit into a comprehensive reading com-
    prehension model? Welie, Schoonen, and Kuiken administered a battery of tests to
    eighth-graders, including tests of expository text comprehension, sentence reading
    fluency, linguistic knowledge (general vocabulary and connectives), metacogni-
    tive knowledge (knowledge of reading strategies), and text structure inference skill.
    The participants included both monolingual students, who spoke only Dutch, and
    bilingual students who spoke a minority language at home. Two important factors
    emerged from a series of hierarchical regression analyses: knowledge of connectives
    and metacognitive knowledge. The authors conclude that interventions focused on
    text structure should include instruction on both of these topics. The authors also
    examined their data to determine whether there were differences as a function of
    students’ language background or level of reading proficiency.

    The article by Ji, Beerwinkle, Wijekumar, Lei, Joshi, and Zhang offers an
    alternative method of analyzing intervention effects. In Latent Transition Analy-
    sis (LTA), students are classified on the basis of their scores on a set of pretest
    measures, such that the score profiles of the classes are distinct from one another.
    After the intervention has been completed, the posttest is examined to determine
    the probability of the students in any given class transitioning to the score profile
    of another class. In the study reported here, which was based on almost 2000
    seventh-graders, an LTA identified four classes of students who exhibited various

    1932 J. P. Williams

    1 3

    patterns of performance on a pretest of text structure comprehension. Transitional
    probabilities from pretest to posttest indicated that progress toward proficiency
    differed among the classes. This new approach to modeling intervention effects
    allows one to track the stability of each class of students over time. It also pro-
    vides more specific information that can guide the design of instruction, perhaps
    leading to a decision to modify an intervention in different ways for different
    classes of students.

    We are all used to reading in reports of intervention evaluations that a useful next
    step in the research would be to analyze the components of that intervention in order
    to determine which ones were the effective ones. Answering that question would
    help us develop not only effective, but efficient interventions. However, we rarely
    come across an actual study that undertakes such an analysis, probably because it
    appears to be a rather daunting endeavor. Hebert, Bohaty, Nelson, and Lambert take
    an unconventional approach to determining how much each individual component
    of an intervention contributes to its ultimate effectiveness. What they have decided
    to do is to attempt to answer this question even as they construct their intervention.
    That is, they are building an intervention one component at a time. In the present
    study the authors evaluate instruction on the component of identification/discrimina-
    tion for fourth and fifth-grade struggling readers. They plan to collect data on each
    of several intervention components. It is interesting to contemplate how the results
    of this approach might differ from those of the decomposition strategy that is typi-
    cally considered the way to approach the question.

    Incorporating writing tasks as part of reading comprehension instruction is
    acknowledged to be a powerful instructional strategy. However, there is little
    research on the use of writing as a means of improving text structure knowledge.
    Turcotte, Berthiaume and Caron have examined how well French-speaking students
    in grade 6 of Canadian schools deal with text structure in both reading and writing
    tasks. The students had no specific training in text structure prior to the study. Path
    analysis indicated that knowledge of text structure and ability to identify main ideas
    influenced reading comprehension, which in turn influenced writing proficiency.
    The attention directed in this study to what students with no formal instruction can
    and cannot do is unusual. Interventions might sometimes be substantially improved
    if there were a deeper understanding of students’ abilities at the point at which they
    were introduced to the intervention. (This observation is certainly not limited to
    interventions that incorporate writing instruction.)

    The article by Hebert, Bohaty, Nelson, and Roehling focuses specifically on
    writing instruction. These authors want to help struggling readers learn to organ-
    ize text in order to improve their writing. Their idea is to free up students’ cogni-
    tive resources by including in their instruction only what is essential for teaching
    planning and organizing–in other words, executive function. In their intervention
    students do not have to be concerned about what to write about, which is a compli-
    cating factor in most writing instruction. The authors provide students with short
    information “frames”, which eliminate the need to generate content; students learn
    to organize the frames according to the several text structures. Further work on this
    project will culminate in a longer, more comprehensive writing intervention and
    perhaps also more theorizing about the nature of executive function.


    1 3
    Text structure instruction: the research is moving forward

    Arfe, Mason, and Fajardo discuss another way, in addition to direct instruction, that
    we might address the comprehension difficulties of struggling readers. Problematic text
    could be modified to make it more accessible. Arfe et al. present their recent work on
    text simplification. They show how cognitive models of discourse comprehension can
    guide us to construct texts that will cue readers to form sound mental representations
    and accurate understandings. They describe one such system, currently under develop-
    ment, in which texts are rewritten to improve both global and local coherence and to
    decrease linguistic complexity (both vocabulary and syntax). They discuss the value of
    having a system that provides texts that are graded in difficulty, both for instruction and
    for practice.


    The articles that appear in the present issue address many of the issues raised in the
    review by Ray and Meyer (2011) and the two meta-analyses (Hebert et al., 2016; Pyle
    et  al., 2017) that I cited earlier. These articles are indeed very heterogeneous—much
    too varied for me to draw any general conclusions about any specific issue. However,
    one observation worth making is that it appears that much of the research included in
    the two meta-analyses was based on English-speaking students and texts written in
    English. In contrast, the present issue includes participants who speak Dutch, Spanish,
    and French as well as English. While this hardly qualifies as a representative sample
    of world languages, it is a start to being able to generalize the results of text structure
    instruction beyond the English-speaking world.

    I will also note that one of the most frequent second-generation research questions
    has to do with moderating variables. The papers in this collection that look for mod-
    erators come up rather surprisingly short of expectation. There are not a lot of data
    here that suggest, for example, that level of reading proficiency or grade level interacts
    importantly with text structure instruction. One interesting finding is the distinction
    between paraphrasers and elaborators that van den Broek and his colleagues have iden-
    tified. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to study the performance of these two types of
    reader on texts of the kind that are typically used in a text structure intervention.

    All in all, this is a provocative set of studies that expands the horizons of text struc-
    ture research. It is clear that the field is continuing to move forward and that current and
    future findings will further inform all those involved in the quest for optimal instruc-
    tion. I look forward to reading further studies by the researchers who have contributed
    to this volume as they continue to pursue their particular questions. All of them are on
    the path to better understanding of what has rightly come to be considered an important
    part of reading comprehension instruction.


    Berninger, V. W., Nagy, W., & Beers, S. (2011). Child writers’ construction and reconstruction of sin-
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    1934 J. P. Williams

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    Crosson, A. C., Lesaux, N. K., & Martiniello, M. (2008). Factors that influence comprehension of
    connectives among language minority children from Spanish-speaking backgrounds. Applied
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    Duke, N. K., & Bennett-Armistead, V. S. (2003). Reading and writing informational texts in the pri-
    mary grades: Research-based practices. New York: Scholastic.

    Durkin, D. (1978–1979). What classroom observations reveal about reading comprehension instruc-
    tion. Reading Research Quarterly, 14, 481–533.

    Goldman, S. R., & Rakestraw, J. A. (2000). Structural aspects of constructing meaning from text. In
    M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research
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    Guthrie, J. T., Anderson, E., Alao, S., & Rinehard, J. (1999). Influences of concept-oriented reading
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    Hebert, M., Bohaty, J. J., Nelson, J. R., & Brown, J. (2016). The effects of text structure instruction on
    expository reading comprehension: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(5),

    Kame’enui, E. J., & Carnine, D. W. (Eds.). (1998). Effective teaching strategies that accommodate
    diverse learners. Columbus, OH: Merrill.

    Kintsch, W. (1998). Comprehension: A paradigm for cognition. New York, NY: Cambridge Univer-
    sity Press.

    Kintsch, W. (2004). The construction-integration model of text comprehension and its implications
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    Meyer, B. J., Middlemiss, W., Theodorou, E., Brezinski, K. L., McDougall, J., & Bartlett, B. J. (2002).
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    Pressley, M. (1998). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching. New York, NY:
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    Pyle, N., Vasquez, A. C., Gillam, S. L., Reutzel, D., Olszewski, A., Segura, H., et al. (2017). Effects
    of expository text structure interventions on comprehension: A meta-analysis. Reading Research
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    Ray, M. N., & Meyer, B. J. F. (2011). Individual differences in children’s knowledge of expository text
    structures: A review of the literature. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education,
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    Wijekumar, K., Meyer, B. J. F., Lei, P.-W., Lin, Y. C., Johnson, L. A., Spielvogel, J. A., et al. (2014). Mul-
    tisite randomized controlled trial examining intelligent tutoring of structure strategy for fifth-grade
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    learners: Building basics of comprehension instruction. Exceptionality, 12, 129–144. https ://doi.
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    Williams, J. P., Hall, K. M., Lauer, K. D., Stafford, K. B., DeSisto, L. A., & de Cani, J. S. (2005). Exposi-
    tory text comprehension in the primary grade classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97,

    Williams, J. P., Kao, J. C., Pao, L. S., Ordynans, J. G., Atkins, J. G., Cheng, R., & DeBonis, D. (2016).
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    Williams, J. P., Nubla-Kung, A. M., Pollini, S., Stafford, K. B., Garcia, A., & Snyder, A. E. (2007).
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    Williams, J. P., & Pao, L. S. (2011). Teaching narrative and expository text structure to improve com-
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      Text structure instruction: the research is moving forward
      Close analysis of texts with structure (CATS)
      The articles in this issue


    Clinical Focus

    aSchool of Co
    University, Ta



    Received Nov
    Revision rece
    Accepted Apr



    Text Structure Strategy for Expository
    Reading Comprehension: Case Study With
    an Adolescent With Noonan Syndrome

    Shannon Hall-Millsa and Leesa Marantea

    Purpose: This article describes the implementation of a
    text structure strategy approach to reading comprehension
    intervention to improve comprehension of expository
    texts for an adolescent with Noonan Syndrome and a
    history of developmental language disorder and reading
    Method: The text structure intervention program was created
    for a feasibility study with adolescents who have language
    and literacy disorders. In the present case study, we
    investigated whether it was possible to improve expository
    text comprehension in a client with Noonan Syndrome and
    a history of significant needs in literacy. The text structure
    program leveraged the participant’s progressive knowledge

    mmunication Science & Disorders, Florida State

    ce to Shannon Hall-Mills:

    ef: Brenda L. Beverly

    ember 12, 2020
    ived February 11, 2021
    il 13, 2021

    ctives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups • Vol. 6 • 520–530 • June 20

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    and awareness of specific text structures and structure
    signal words for improved comprehension of compare-
    contrast texts. The participant attended 60-min sessions
    twice weekly for three weeks at a university clinic.
    Results: The participant demonstrated an increase in
    signal word identification as well as compare-contrast text
    Conclusions: This preliminary case study demonstrates
    that a short-term, explicit text structure strategy intervention
    is feasible for treatment of reading comprehension difficulties.
    This study also provides support for future text structure
    research with adolescent language and literacy deficits
    secondary to medical complexities.

    here is an expanding body of research evidence that
    indicates text structure instruction can support im-
    proved reading comprehension for school-age chil-

    dren and adolescents with language and learning disabilities
    (Hall-Mills & Marante, 2020; Hebert et al., 2016). This is
    an important area of research and practice because children
    with developmental language disorder (DLD) are 6 times
    more likely than their peers with typical language develop-
    ment to experience reading difficulties (Catts et al., 2002),
    likely due to the fundamental role of language ability in
    skilled reading (Nation & Snowling, 2004). The Simple View
    of Reading posits that reading comprehension is the result
    of decoding and linguistic comprehension (Gough & Tunmer,
    1986). Many researchers have explored the application of
    the Simple View of Reading and substantiated the relative
    contributions of decoding and linguistic comprehension to
    reading comprehension (see Foorman et al., 2018; Lan-
    guage and Reading Research Consortium, 2015). Language

    skills are central to the Simple View of Reading; a host of
    language skills contribute to breaking the written code
    while other language skills contribute to the construction
    of mental schemas of text which give rise to linguistic com-
    prehension (Kintsch, 2013). Students who have difficulty
    with comprehension without concomitant word reading
    deficits have been referred to as “poor comprehenders”
    with specific comprehension problems (Catts et al., 2006).
    These students have deficits in language comprehension, as
    shown via measures of listening comprehension and vocab-
    ulary and semantic processing (Catts et al., 2006; Nation
    et al., 2004). Reading comprehension deficits are common
    among adolescents with language and learning disabilities
    (Hall-Mills & Marante, 2020; McMaster et al., 2014), who
    may perform as much as five or more grade levels below
    their peers (Gartland & Strosnider, 2018). Thus, the Simple
    View of Reading helps explain the relationship between lan-
    guage skills and reading comprehension.

    The construction–integration model of text compre-
    hension (Kintsch, 2013) explains how reading comprehen-
    sion is first a process of building an overall model of the
    information in the text using hierarchical relationships

    Financial: Shannon Hall-Mills has no relevant financial interests to disclose. Leesa
    Marante has no relevant financial interests to disclose.
    Nonfinancial: Shannon Hall-Mills has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose.
    Leesa Marante has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose.

    21 • Copyright © 2021 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

    erms of Use:

    SIG 1 Language Learning and Education

    among ideas (represented as the text macrostructure) and
    second, an integration of the text microstructure and the
    reader’s background knowledge and experiences to form
    a situation model. Previous literature suggests that a lack
    of text structure recognition may be part of the reason com-
    prehension deficits persist as a child gets older (Gajria et al.,
    2007; Gersten et al., 2001). This is because a reader may
    struggle to infer meaning and create a mental representation
    of the text (Ray & Meyer, 2011). This is especially true for
    comprehension of expository text, which can be particularly
    challenging for students with language and learning disabil-
    ities to comprehend (Ehren, 2010). Compared to a narrative
    text, the expository text contains a higher concentration of
    unfamiliar content (Duke, 2010), advanced general (Tier 2)
    and domain-specific (Tier 3) academic vocabulary words,
    and greater overall lexical density and diversity (Lundine
    & McCauley, 2016). Expository text also consists of more
    complex syntactic structures, including nominalization and
    subordination that are used to build cohesion between ideas
    across sentences (Scott & Balthazar, 2010). Furthermore,
    the expository macrostructure differs by the subtype and
    purpose of the text, and each macrostructure has unique de-
    mands on a reader’s semantic and syntactic skills (Lundine
    & McCauley, 2016). Therefore, an explicit and systematic
    focus on expository text structure is a necessary and beneficial
    method for supporting adolescents’ reading comprehension.

    Noonan Syndrome Incidence
    and Characteristics

    Noonan syndrome (NS) is an autosomal dominant
    genetic disorder; approximately half of NS cases are linked
    specifically to a PTPN11 mutation (Pierpont et al., 2010).
    It is characterized by abnormalities in physical size, cardiac
    function, and facial and musculoskeletal features with an
    estimated incidence of 1/1,000 to 1/2,500 births (Pierpont
    et al., 2013). There is also a risk of hearing impairment.
    Despite its rarity, NS has been reported on more extensively
    than other more common neurodevelopmental disorders
    such as DLD (Bishop, 2010; McGregor, 2020). In fact,
    publications regarding NS increased 72% between the first
    and second decades of the millennium (McGregor, 2020).
    The increased attention to NS in the literature may be due
    to the severity of impact, which is estimated to be on aver-
    age slightly more severe than that of DLD (Bishop, 2010;
    McGregor, 2020).

    The genetic mutations associated with NS alter the
    activation of proteins that regulate growth and development,
    resulting in a range of medical and developmental condi-
    tions. A common medical condition in individuals with NS
    is a heart defect. Developmental delays in speech, language,
    and literacy have also been noted in individuals with NS.
    Furthermore, they are at greater risk than typical peers for
    cognitive impairments (Lee et al., 2005; Pierpont et al., 2009),
    although the population of individuals with NS display a
    wide range of cognitive ability from moderate intellectual
    disability to superior intellectual ability (Pierpont et al., 2010).
    Moreover, attentional and executive functioning delays

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    have also been documented in this population (Lee et al.,

    Language Profile
    As a clinically relevant population, children with

    NS are among those at risk for language and learning diffi-
    culties. Prior studies of children with NS have offered a
    communication profile that includes DLD for some but
    not all children with NS (Lee et al., 2005; Wood et al.,
    1995). Pierpont et al. (2010) compared the distribution of
    standard scores for language from samples of children with
    NS to the normative population and found that the aver-
    age language functioning of children with NS was lower than
    the normative sample. While there were many children with
    NS functioning within the average range for language, more
    than 10% of the participants in Pierpont et al. (2010) had to-
    tal language standard scores in the range of 40–50 (based
    on the CELF:P-2 [Semel et al., 2004] and CELF-4 [Semel
    et al., 2003], with an M = 100 and an SD = 15), and 30%
    of the sample presented with significant impairments (be-
    low average range) in expressive and/or receptive language.
    Children with NS are at a greater risk than their peers for
    hearing loss, which can be expected to account for some
    variance in language functioning. Language abilities were
    significantly correlated with hearing ability (r = .64). Twenty-
    six percent of Pierpont et al.’s (2010) sample of children
    with NS had a history of hearing loss and 5% used hearing
    amplification. There did not appear to be any significant
    differences in their performance across specific areas of
    language; children with NS had similar levels of perfor-
    mance for grammatical and lexical tasks.

    While there are patterns of language, cognitive, and
    learning difficulties in children with NS, there is not yet a
    consensus as to the language profile of this population.
    Pierpont et al. (2010) noted that while there were trends
    in their sample showing cognition and language levels were
    similar for most children with NS, this was not the case for
    all of them. The researchers concluded that due to individ-
    ual variability, they could not specify a language profile
    for the group as a whole and suggested that comprehensive
    speech and language evaluations be made available for all
    individuals diagnosed with NS. The risks and nature of
    DLD that may exist in children with NS have important
    implications for language intervention practices.

    Text Structure Approaches to Instruction
    and Intervention

    Evidence exists from several prior randomized and
    quasi-experimental studies regarding the effectiveness of
    explicit text structure instruction to bolster readers’ knowl-
    edge and comprehension of expository text structures
    (Bohaty et al., 2015). Children who have received explicit
    text structure instruction are better able to recognize distinct
    text structures, identify the key relationships in the text, recall
    a greater number of content units from reading passages,
    and show improvement on standardized measures of read-
    ing comprehension (Meyer et al., 2010; Ray & Meyer,

    Hall-Mills & Marante: Reading Comprehension Intervention 521

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    SIG 1 Language Learning and Education

    2011). Text structure instruction has been provided with
    success to children in elementary and secondary grade
    levels. For students in the elementary grades, even a brief
    period (e.g., ≤ 5 min daily over 8 weeks, or 200 total mi-
    nutes) of text structure instruction with expository text
    results in comprehension gains (Connor et al., 2014; Williams
    et al., 2005, 2009). Students in the later grades also benefit
    from explicit comprehension instruction because the major-
    ity of reading content is from expository texts (Williams,

    The collective evidence of the effectiveness of text
    structure instruction on children’s reading comprehension
    has been documented in two recent meta-analyses and a
    systematic review. Forty-five studies using text structure
    instruction with students across the full range of academic
    performance in Grades 2 through 12 were reviewed by
    Hebert et al. (2016). They found text structure instruction
    had a mean effect size of 0.56, 95% CI [0.43, 0.69]. Gains
    were maintained post intervention and use of the text
    structure strategy was evident in passages containing un-
    taught text structures. However, only five of the studies
    reviewed by Hebert et al. included participants with learn-
    ing disability (LD) in the later grades, with effect sizes
    ranging 0.62–2.17.

    When text structure instruction is examined with sam-
    ples of students with LD, the effects are even stronger. Pyle
    et al. (2017) found an average effect size of 0.83 CI [0.76,
    0.91] across 19 text structure instruction studies that included
    students with a LD in Kindergarten through Grade 12. How-
    ever, only three of those studies included students with LD
    in the later grades (Grades 6–12) with effect sizes ranging

    To extend the findings of Hebert et al. (2016) and Pyle
    et al. (2017), Hall-Mills and Marante (2020) conducted a sys-
    tematic review on the effects of explicit text structure instruc-
    tion for adolescents with or at risk for LD in reading. The
    findings of nine studies published in the span of 22 years indi-
    cated that most effect sizes were large, and effects ranged
    from small to large (d = 0.31–2.17; ƞp

    2 = .05–.79) on exposi-
    tory reading comprehension outcomes measures. Across
    studies, text structure instruction was consistently more
    effective for reading comprehension than standard instruc-
    tion or business as usual conditions.

    In the studies reviewed by Hebert et al. (2016), Pyle
    et al. (2017), and Hall-Mills and Marante (2020), the most
    frequently targeted text structure was compare-contrast. Of
    the studies reviewed by Hall-Mills and Marante, four of
    them focused on the compare-contrast structure for adoles-
    cents with or at risk for LD. In a single-subject, multiple-
    probe across participants design with four eighth graders with
    LD, Nealy (2003) provided explicit text structure intervention
    in seven, 20-min individual sessions across 4 days. Each in-
    tervention session included a review of the purposes and
    types of text structures, modeling the use of graphic orga-
    nizers and the process of identifying signal words and text
    patterns, think-aloud methods to engage with the partici-
    pants, and guided practice with reading passages. Reading
    comprehension was measured using a researcher-made

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    measure of five comprehension questions balanced for textu-
    ally explicit and implicit items. The participants’ average
    median scores for the percent of correct responses to read-
    ing comprehension questions increased 40% from baseline
    to intervention phases and their score levels were maintained
    over a few weeks post intervention.

    In a well-designed quasi-experimental study, Wilkins
    (2007) provided compare-contrast text structure instruction
    to 30 students at risk for reading disabilities in Grades 7
    and 8. Instruction was provided in a whole classroom set-
    ting for 30-min sessions twice weekly for 2 weeks. For the
    first two sessions, instruction included an overview of the
    purpose and importance of expository text, identifying
    the main idea and other key idea units of a passage, and
    writing main idea statements. The same process was re-
    peated with a second passage. For the next 3 weeks, one
    treatment group also received instruction in paragraph re-
    statement. The treatment groups alternated the order of inter-
    vention between text structure and paragraph restatement.
    Both treatment groups improved in total idea units identi-
    fied in compare-contrast text. Effects were stronger when
    participants completed a period of paragraph restatement
    strategy instruction prior to the text structure strategy

    In another quasi-experimental study, O’Connor et al.
    (2017) provided small group text structure instruction to
    34 eighth grade students at risk for or with LD. Participants
    learned to construct main idea statements, and create, com-
    pare, and contrast paragraphs, and identify cause and effect
    relationships in history text. Text structure instruction was
    provided across 9 weeks, of which 3 weeks were devoted
    specifically to comparing and contrasting. Each session
    consisted of 15 min of comprehension strategy instruction
    and 20 min of reading and responding to compare-contrast
    history text. Students assigned to the text structure interven-
    tion outperformed the comparison group on standardized
    measures of reading comprehension and performed simi-
    larly to peers with typical learning development. The in-
    tervention group was significantly better at generating
    main ideas, comparing and contrasting people and events,
    identifying cause and effect relationships, and generalizing
    their comprehension to untaught content.

    In a randomized control trial, Meyer et al. (2010)
    tested the effectiveness of a software program providing
    intelligent tutoring in text structure strategies to students in
    Grades 5 and 7, including students at risk for reading dis-
    abilities. They found that the text structure instruction was
    equally effective for both grade levels and reading compre-
    hension performance was better for students who received
    elaborated rather than general feedback.

    The most salient elements of text structure instruc-
    tion that are supported by the current literature include struc-
    tured, explicit, scaffolded, and intensive instruction (Williams
    et al., 2014, 2016). Intervention approaches have incorporated
    strategy instruction for identifying text structure types includ-
    ing the identification of signal words, specifying the main
    idea, and recalling key details with the use of graphic orga-
    nizers. Many studies have incorporated direct vocabulary

    30 • June 2021

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    SIG 1 Language Learning and Education

    instruction and strategies for identifying genre-specific sig-
    nal words. Instruction in identifying the signal words is im-
    portant because subtypes of expository text rely on a unique
    text structure to communicate ideas, and each structure
    necessitates different signal words (Zwiers, 2010). Prior re-
    search has shown that it is possible to increase students’
    understanding of comparative signal words after a period
    of text structure strategy instruction (Meyer et al., 2018).

    Across the studies examined, text structure has been
    effectively targeted in whole-class, small-group, and one-
    on-one instruction. Instructional reading passages have
    focused on science, social studies, and history content.
    The instruction has been delivered by classroom teachers
    (O’Connor et al., 2017) or researchers (O’Connor et al.,
    2015; Wilkins, 2007), and self-paced web-based software
    (Meyer et al., 2010). The frequency and length of interven-
    tion sessions has ranged from a minimum of three, 30-min
    sessions in 1 week (Bakken et al., 1997) to a maximum of
    40 consecutive days (8 weeks) of 45-min intervention ses-
    sions (O’Connor et al., 2017).

    A variety of dependent measures for comprehension
    and signal word identification have been utilized in prior
    research. Comprehension outcome measures for compare-
    contrast text structure instruction for adolescents with or
    at risk for LD have included the generation of the main idea
    or number of idea units, norm- or criterion-referenced tests,
    curriculum-based measures, and researcher-made measures.
    Most of these measures included open-ended or multiple-
    choice comprehension questions. Some studies have also in-
    cluded measures of signal word identification and pre/post
    measures of text structure strategy knowledge.

    Notably, none of the previous studies on the effects
    of explicit text structure instruction on text comprehension
    have included participants with DLD. Given the substan-
    tial gap in the literature and the evidence supporting the use
    of text structure instruction with adolescents with LD, the
    present case study examines the effectiveness of an explicit
    text structure intervention approach to treat expository
    reading comprehension difficulties in an adolescent whose
    etiology is linked to NS. This case study is presented to illus-
    trate the implementation of a text structure intervention
    program with an adolescent with language and learning dis-
    abilities associated etiologically with this rare congenital

    This Study
    Prior research provides evidence of the success of text

    structure instruction for comprehension deficits among ado-
    lescents with and without LD. It is possible that text struc-
    ture intervention may also produce comprehension gains for
    adolescents with a history of DLD whose comprehension
    deficits have been otherwise difficult to remediate. The first
    step to examine a text structure approach to the treatment
    of reading comprehension problems is to establish the via-
    bility of the approach. We utilized a case study design with
    one baseline and one intervention phase (e.g., AB design)
    to determine whether explicit text structure instruction had

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    a correlational relation with improvements in BD’s identifi-
    cation of signal words and comprehension of the compare-
    contrast text. With this design, it was feasible to document
    changes in the outcome data from the baseline to the inter-
    vention phase. Here, we present BD’s case to illustrate the
    practicability of a text structure intervention for expository
    text for an adolescent with language and literacy disabil-
    ities. The study was guided by the following research ques-
    tion: Will the implementation of an explicit text structure
    intervention result in improved identification of signal words
    for and comprehension of compare-contrast text?


    To address the research aim, we implemented a case
    study design with one baseline and one intervention phase
    (e.g., AB design). AB designs are efficient for feasibility
    studies to provide preliminary data regarding intervention
    effects. With an AB design, it is feasible to document changes
    in the outcome variable from the baseline to intervention
    phase and thus possible to determine whether a correlational
    relation exists between independent and dependent variables
    (Kazdin, 2010).

    The participant, referred to as BD, was recruited in

    accordance with the procedures approved by the univer-
    sity’s Human Subjects Committee. BD was a Black male,
    age 14;6 (years; months) who was enrolled in the seventh
    grade. He participated in general education with weekly re-
    source support for reading and math as well as language
    therapy. His educational history was significant for grade
    retention. He had no history of hearing impairment, but his
    hearing was being monitored due to the increase risk with NS.

    BD was referred to the intervention program at the
    university clinic by his mother due to concerns about his
    reading level and lack of progress with previous interven-
    tions. BD was initially diagnosed as a young child with de-
    velopmental disability, DLD, and speech impairment. He
    had been enrolled in speech-language therapy since the
    age of 18 months. He was later diagnosed with a reading-
    based learning disability (LD-R), epilepsy, narcolepsy, ex-
    ecutive function disorder, and a PTPN11 gene mutation,
    which is associated with Noonan’s syndrome. The latter
    diagnosis of NS was made by a geneticist and provided
    etiological insight for BD’s language, learning, and cogni-
    tive profile.

    Initial Assessment
    Prior to entry in the text structure intervention pro-

    gram, BD received an individualized language and literacy
    evaluation. His parent was interviewed for case history and
    referral information. The Student Language Scale was
    used to gather input from his parent about BD’s language
    and literacy skills. The parent completed a 7-point rating
    scale in which she rated BD’s language and literacy skills

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    from 1 (not good) to 7 (very good) by circling a number to
    rate how good this student was at the named skill in com-
    parison to peers of the same age. This scale has been vali-
    dated as a screener for language/literacy disorder and to
    provide input for planning and other discussions between
    teachers, parents, and students. The lowest ratings (Level 1)
    were indicated for the items “Being organized about school-
    work,” “Paying attention in school,” and “Interacting so-
    cially with other students.” The highest ratings (Level 4)
    were for the items “Understanding school vocabulary words,”
    “Understanding a story when reading,” and “Writing a
    story that makes sense.” Remaining items (Level 3) included
    “Using school vocabulary words when talking,” “Figuring
    out new words when reading,” “Spelling words correctly
    when writing,” and “Following spoken directions.” The par-
    ent also identified areas easiest for BD were Art, Dance,
    and Music and his hardest areas were Math, Reading, and
    understanding social cues and adjusting behavior accordingly.
    The parent noted that their main goal was for BD to do bet-
    ter at school and learn how to read and comprehend better.

    BD’s language and literacy skills were assessed with
    the Test of Integrated Language and Literacy Skills (TILLS;
    Nelson et al., 2016). The TILLS has been validated for asses-
    sing oral and written language in students ages 6 through
    18 years for three purposes: (a) identifying language/literacy
    disorder; (b) describing patterns of strengths and weakness,
    and (c) tracking change over time (6-month periods or lon-
    ger). The TILLS has very good levels of sensitivity (86%)
    and specificity (90%). Specificity refers to the test’s accuracy
    with identifying children with a disorder, whereas sensitivity
    is the test’s accuracy of identifying children without a disor-
    der (Betz et al., 2013). Specificity and sensitivity are impor-
    tant psychometric properties of a norm-referenced test
    because they establish the precision with which a measure
    can differentiate typical from atypical language performance.
    The TILLS includes 15 subtests and yields several com-
    posite scores with a mean of 100 and standard deviation
    of 15. BD’s standard scores on the subtest composites fell
    three standard deviations below the mean: sound/word (40),
    sentence/discourse (41), oral composite (43), written Com-
    posite (40), identification core (40). These scores are con-
    sistent with a severe language/literacy disorder.

    BD’s nonverbal intellectual ability was assessed with
    the Matrices subtest of the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test,
    Second Edition (KBIT-2; Kaufman & Kaufman, 2004). The
    Matrices subtest of the KBIT-2 is a brief measure of non-
    verbal intelligence which measures the ability to perceive rela-
    tionships, complete visual analogies, think logically, and
    solve problems in novel situations. The KBIT-2 was admin-
    istered only for descriptive purposes and was not required
    for inclusion or exclusion criteria. Standard scores on the
    KBIT-2 have an M = 100 and an SD ± 15. His standard
    score of 90 fell within the average range.

    Text Structure Intervention Program
    The text structure intervention (TSI) program used

    in this study was developed by the first author to address

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    reading comprehension deficits in school-age children and ado-
    lescents with DLD. Features of the program were selected
    and lessons developed based on prior evidence of effective
    components of text structure instruction, including evidence
    from two recent meta-analyses and one systematic review
    (Hall-Mills & Marante, 2020; Hebert et al., 2016; Pyle et al.,
    2017). The second author provided input on the design of les-
    son materials. The TSI design included six lessons focused on
    the compare-contrast type of expository text (describing simi-
    larities and differences between concepts or ideas). Compare-
    contrast was selected as the focal text structure because of its
    broad application in the middle school curriculum.

    Each TSI lesson provided direct instruction regarding
    the purpose and characteristics of compare-contrast text, in-
    cluding vocabulary instruction on a range of signal words
    for compare-contrast text structure, discussion of the rela-
    tions among ideas that are framed by the signal words,
    modeling and guided practice identifying signal words and
    answering comprehension questions for a compare-contrast
    passage, followed by independent practice with another
    compare-contrast passage. Signal words are words within
    a passage that reflect the structure of the text and thus may
    increase coherence in support of comprehension (Hebert
    et al., 2016). Examples of compare-contrast signal words
    taught include “both,” “alike,” “difference,” “similar,” “have
    in common,” “as well as,” “as opposed to,” “on the other
    hand,” “options,” “whereas,” “although,” “however,” “in
    contrast,” “instead,” and “while.” Guided practice included
    think-aloud procedures in which the participant was peri-
    odically asked to comment about the text while reading and
    the interventionist probed comments by asking questions,
    modeling the answer, and providing support for inferential
    thinking (Laing & Kamhi, 2002).

    Other researchers have suggested that comprehension
    intervention should build content knowledge by adhering
    to one genre or topic for a period of time (Elleman &
    Compton, 2017; Kamhi & Catts, 2017). Thus, we selected a
    thematic topic (“flight”) to focus the reading passage con-
    tent throughout the intervention. Baseline passages were not
    focused on this theme. For both the baseline and inter-
    vention phases, compare-contrast reading passages were
    sourced from a nonprofit resource of leveled reading mate-
    rial to measure signal word identification and comprehen-
    sion (ReadWorks, 2019). Passages were selected based on
    (a) adherence to the compare/contrast text structure, (b) in-
    clusion of three or more compare/contrast signal words,
    and (c) reading level consistent with passages selected for
    guided and independent practice. Passages selected for the
    intervention phase also were chosen based on their alignment
    with the thematic topic of flight. Reading passages were
    precalibrated for readability and grade level measures to
    ensure consistency (passages ranged 55–70 for the Flesch
    Reading Ease and 6.0–8.0 Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level).
    Science content was selected as the focus of the text structure
    instruction to provide ample opportunities to demonstrate
    comparative relations among concepts.

    The TSI program included two measures to monitor
    BD’s progress with identifying compare-contrast signal

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    words and answering comprehension questions. The same
    passage was used to measure the participant’s identification
    of signal words and accuracy with comprehension questions.
    The participant was instructed to review the reading passage
    and identify any helpful words about the purpose of the
    passage by circling them. This item was scored as the percent-
    age of compare-contrast signal words that were correctly
    identified. For example, if a passage included five compare-
    contrast signal words (e.g., different, but, however, though,
    while), and the participant identified three of them, then the
    accuracy of signal word identification was 60% (3/5). Each
    passage contained four to six compare-contrast signal words.
    Comprehension accuracy was measured with a 4-item
    probe developed for the same reading passage as for signal
    word identification. Comprehension question items were de-
    veloped by the first author and balanced by type to include
    the gist or main idea of the passage (e.g., what was the main
    idea of this passage?), text explicit information (e.g., what
    happens to a ball that you throw on Earth?), text implicit in-
    formation (e.g., why might it be a bad idea to sprinkle salt and
    pepper on your meal in space?), and structure implicit infor-
    mation (e.g., how is gravity different on Earth and in space?).

    Assessment/Dependent Measures
    BD’s identification of compare-contrast signal words

    and comprehension of compare-contrast text were measured
    in one combined probe. For this probe, a compare-contrast
    reading passage was provided to BD. The instructions for the
    dependent measures probe were scripted to ensure consistency
    of administration across probes. Instructions indicated that
    BD was to first identify any signal words in the passage by
    circling them with his pencil. Then he was instructed to read
    the passage aloud. We required him to read the passage
    aloud to keep him on task. Without this requirement, he
    would skip to answering the questions without reading the
    passage. He was not given any feedback during the passage
    read aloud. After completing his reading of the passage,
    he was instructed to review the comprehension questions
    and write his responses on the page. BD’s identification of
    signal words and responses to comprehension questions were
    double scored by a trained graduate research assistant for
    scoring reliability. The interobserver agreement level for both
    dependent measures was 100%.

    After the baseline period, explicit text structure inter-

    vention was provided during 60-min, twice weekly sessions
    over a three-week period. Each intervention session followed
    a similar structure. First, we provided direct instruction re-
    garding the purpose and characteristics of compare-contrast
    text, including vocabulary instruction on a range of signal
    words for compare-contrast text structure, and discussion of
    the relations among ideas that are framed by the signal words
    (10 min). BD was attentive during direct instruction prior
    to guided and independent practice portions of TSI lessons.
    Next, we provided modeling and guided practice identifying
    signal words and answering comprehension questions for a
    compare-contrast passage (25 min). After guided practice,

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    the participant completed independent practice with a dif-
    ferent compare-contrast passage (20 min). Last, we reviewed
    the key concepts of the day’s lesson with reminders about
    the text structure strategy.

    Guided practice included scaffolding (e.g., breaking
    task down into component parts, reviewing sentence-level
    signal words before returning to passage-level) and prompt-
    ing. Examples of prompting included the provision of verbal
    cues to remind BD to look for signal words that he had
    been taught previously, completion of a graphic organizer
    to review a passage, and verbal reminders to refer back to
    his notes with highlighted signal words and main idea state-
    ments. He also required prompting to remain on topic during
    lessons. He would draw information from previous experi-
    ences or background knowledge that would cause an off-
    topic conversation. Visual/graphic cues that were available
    in the treatment room included lists of signal words, exam-
    ples of completed graphic organizers, and illustrations of the
    compare-contrast text structure. For independent practice,
    verbal prompting was limited to general prompts about
    staying on task and providing encouragement for task
    completion. As task complexity and time to complete the
    task increased, BD benefitted from more frequent prompts
    to remain engaged. He also benefitted from occasional phys-
    ical breaks (e.g., to the restroom, snack break), a visual
    schedule, and interactive activities to maintain his attention.
    These behavioral observations are consistent with attention
    and executive function deficits that manifest in some indi-
    viduals with NS.

    To ensure procedural integrity, a checklist was used
    by a trained research assistant who reviewed audio record-
    ings of 50% of the sessions. Baseline sessions were checked
    for inadvertent delivery of explicit text structure instruction
    or discussion of text structure strategies. For baseline ses-
    sions, there were no instances of explicit text structure
    instruction, including no instruction on signal words or
    compare-contrast text structure. The observer also completed
    treatment fidelity checks for 50% of the intervention sessions
    by reviewing video recordings. Intervention sessions were
    checked for consistency with the session outline, which in-
    cluded activities for explicit instruction regarding types of
    text, identification of signal words, and compare-contrast text
    comprehension. Across all observations each of the major
    components of text structure instruction (e.g., explicit instruc-
    tion, signal words, and comprehension tasks) were imple-
    mented consistently, thus establishing an adequate level of
    procedural integrity (100%). This method of observation-
    based measures of procedural integrity is consistent with
    prior research on text structure instruction (Williams et al.,
    2009, 2014).

    The purpose of this case study was to implement text

    structure intervention to improve expository reading com-
    prehension for an adolescent participant with NS and a
    history of DLD and LD in reading. The data were visually
    analyzed for level, trend, and variability to establish the

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    specific nature of the changes observed. Stability of the base-
    line data was defined as limited variability in the dependent
    measure and no trend of improvement (Byiers et al., 2012;
    Kazdin, 2010). A stable baseline was achieved for both de-
    pendent measures prior to initiating the intervention, as shown
    in Figure 1. BD’s performance on the baseline probes reflected
    very low levels of accuracy. However, the effect was imme-
    diate for both signal words identification and accuracy of
    comprehension question responses with the initiation of the
    text structure intervention.

    Signal Word Identification
    The participant’s progress over time was examined

    via visual inspection of the data. Figure 1 reflects BD’s ac-
    curacy for identifying compare-contrast signal words and
    responding to comprehension questions. For signal word iden-
    tification, the data reflected a stable baseline trend. Prior to
    receiving explicit instruction with signal words, BD was
    unable to identify any signal words in compare-contrast texts.
    At the baseline, he highlighted words and phrases other than
    those involving signal words, and there were no detectable
    patterns in the words he selected. This indicated that BD did
    not appear to apply a specific strategy prior to reading that
    would assist him in identifying key words. His accuracy for
    signal word identification began to increase by the first probe
    after intervention was initiated and continued to improve
    steadily through subsequent probes in the intervention phase.
    BD’s final four probe scores during the intervention phase in-
    dicated that he was able to identify a majority of signal words
    in a compare-contrast passage.

    As a measure of effect size, we calculated the percent-
    age of nonoverlapping data (PND), defined as the propor-
    tion of data points in the compare-contrast text structure
    condition that exceeded the highest value in the baseline
    phase (Campbell, 2003). PND values of 70%–90% are inter-
    preted as moderate and 90%–100% as strong support for
    treatment effectiveness (Meline, 2010). The PND for signal
    words identification was 100%, indicating strong support
    for the effectiveness of treatment. Finally, we supported the
    visual analysis with Tau-U effect size calculations using
    a free calculator from Single Case Research (n.d.). Tau-U

    Figure 1. BD performance on dependent measures (sepa

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    combines the nonoverlap between phases with trend from
    the intervention phase; Tau-U values of 0.93 or higher are
    interpreted as very effective (Parker et al., 2011). The Tau-U
    effect size of 1.00 for BD’s identification of signal words indi-
    cated strong effects.

    Text Comprehension
    BD’s scores on the probes for comprehension question

    accuracy are presented in Figure 1. Based on visual inspec-
    tion of the data, BD’s baseline data trend for comprehension
    question responses was stable, demonstrating a low level
    of accuracy in responses to comprehension questions after
    reading compare-contrast text. However, his accuracy in-
    creased throughout the intervention phase, resulting in a
    PND of 100%. Strong effects were indicated with a Tau U
    effect size of 1.00.

    This study explored the feasibility of a text structure

    intervention for an adolescent student diagnosed with NS,
    DLD, and LD-R. The results provided evidence of the posi-
    tive effects of text structure intervention on the participant’s
    text structure and signal word identification as well as
    compare-contrast text comprehension. It was observed
    that BD could not identify compare-contrast signal words
    prior to direct instruction using the structure strategy. He
    also had very low and inconsistent accuracy in answering
    comprehension questions after reading compare-contrast
    text. The systematic approach to learning about text struc-
    ture seemed to help BD learn how to recognize important
    signal words and comparative relationships in text and ap-
    ply that knowledge to reading tasks.

    The results of this study contribute to the body of evi-
    dence in support of text structure intervention for reading
    comprehension deficits. These findings support those of
    Hebert et al. (2018) and Meyer et al. (2018) that it is feasible
    to focus on signal word identification as a comprehension
    aid. These findings also support the structure strategy’s role
    in compare-contrast text comprehension and align with find-
    ings of previous studies that focused on adolescents with

    rate file).

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    LD (Gajria et al., 2007). The findings of this study are sim-
    ilar to those found by Nealy (2003), O’Connor et al. (2017),
    Wilkins (2007), and Meyer et al. (2010), who found that ex-
    plicit text structure instruction for compare-contrast text
    supported growth in expository reading comprehension of
    children with LD. Finally, given that most prior studies
    on TSI have focused on children without DLD, the results
    of this study have extended the current text structure strat-
    egy research to a clinical population at risk for protracted
    reading comprehension deficits.

    Limitations and Directions for Further Research
    There are notable limitations to this study that war-

    rant consideration. First, the generalizability of the results
    is limited because this was a case study focused on a single
    participant. Second, we cannot rule out factors beyond the
    intervention that might explain the changes in signal word
    identification and compare-contrast reading comprehen-
    sion. This is an artifact of an AB design. Our design did
    include two phases, including one baseline and one treat-
    ment phase. However, we cannot claim full experimental
    control with this design, and we cannot state with certainty
    that the improvements we observed in BD’s performance
    were not attributed to other factors we could not control for
    (e.g., maturation, history). While causal relations between
    the intervention and the outcomes cannot be drawn conclu-
    sively with the AB design, we can discern a correlational re-
    lation between the independent and dependent variables
    (Gast & Baekey, 2014; Kazdin, 2010). To improve upon
    these issues of research design, future studies should incor-
    porate additional phases (e.g., a maintenance phase) and
    more advanced quasi-experimental designs (e.g., multiple
    baseline across participants) to establish a functional rela-
    tion between the independent and dependent variables.

    A third limitation is related to generalization of the
    text structure strategy to other text types. We did not mea-
    sure the participant’s comprehension of untaught expository
    text structures; hence, we do not know the extent to which
    he could have applied text structure strategy to other texts
    (e.g., cause–effect, problem–solution). Thus, we recommend
    that researchers and clinicians consider targeting and mea-
    suring a variety of text structures. Fourth, we did not include
    a measure of social validity within the present case. Social
    validity measures should be incorporated in future studies to
    help illuminate the participants’ perspectives on the useful-
    ness of the text structure strategy. Finally, alternative mea-
    sures of reading comprehension may reveal different effects.
    Further research should consider the full range of approaches
    to comprehension measurement, including the recall of idea

    Clinical Implications
    Text structure intervention may provide adolescents

    with a history of DLD and LD-R the tools to strategically
    use the text’s organizational and linguistic framework for
    better comprehension of expository text. Improvement of

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    expository text comprehension is necessary for academic
    achievement in the later grades and presents an essential focal
    point of language intervention for adolescents. Our case study
    illustrates that a short-term, intensive treatment targeting
    compare-contrast signal words and text structure strategy
    for reading comprehension is feasible and effective for ado-
    lescents with DLD. These findings support and extend prior
    evidence, which has documented large effects for expository
    text comprehension for adolescents with LD after various
    periods of intervention. The text structure approach we used
    for comprehension intervention could be extended for addi-
    tional sessions and weeks, although BD achieved clinically
    significant gains in reading comprehension with a period of
    intervention lasting three weeks and with a total of 360 min
    of intervention. Other studies incorporating text structure
    instruction have provided various durations of intervention,
    from as few as 200 total minutes over the course of a few
    weeks to as many as 1,000 or more minutes across multiple
    weeks or months. With an extended duration, TSI may also
    be applied to other genres of text, including other types of
    expository text. Moreover, TSI could be part of a compre-
    hensive approach for targeting reading comprehension.

    The study also illustrates that the format of the TSI
    lessons in this program was achievable in a twice weekly
    therapy schedule. We have established the practicability of
    text structure intervention in a clinical therapy model. How-
    ever, it will be important for future work to explore the
    feasibility of text structure instruction within language ther-
    apy sessions in a school setting. While we did not explore
    the practicality of TSI in a school context, we believe that
    text structure intervention can be incorporated in a school
    and group therapy setting. We believe this based on the tra-
    dition established in the literature to administer text struc-
    ture instruction to groups or whole classrooms. In a school
    context, clinicians would have the added benefit of direct
    collaboration with teachers on the authentic text and con-
    texts for the TS strategy, help with access to reading content,
    and support with progress monitoring in the classroom.
    Clinicians should consider using curricular materials, such
    as history or science texts, to increase their client’s back-
    ground knowledge for those specific content areas. Moreover,
    text structure intervention emphasizes the use of scaffolding
    and modeling with visual organizers. Nearly all of the prior
    text structure studies reviewed by Pyle et al. (2017) included
    scaffolding so that instruction was tailored to the indi-
    vidual. Thus, scaffolding should be a component of any
    text structure intervention. These strategies are particularly
    helpful for students with language learning difficulties simi-
    lar to BD. The results of our case study also indicate that
    text structure intervention can be effective while attending
    to the client’s needs for increased behavior, attention,
    and executive function management and scaffolding for

    Finally, this case illuminates the value and necessity
    of a comprehensive language and literacy assessment for
    an adolescent with NS. BD’s family had been in search of
    explanations for his reading comprehension difficulties. While
    we do not yet know all of the reasons for these challenges,

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    we were able to document an updated language and literacy
    skills profile and monitor BD’s response to language inter-
    vention in a tightly controlled environment. Doing so under-
    scored the individual variability inherent in individuals with
    NS. Pierpont et al. (2010) found that 85% of children with
    NS had below average nonverbal skills commensurate with
    their language skills and most reflected language skills be-
    tween the mild impairment, average, and above average
    levels. In contrast to prior research detailing the language,
    literacy, and cognition of children with NS, BD had language
    skills that were profoundly impaired (i.e., standard scores
    on TILLS composites in the 40 s), and much lower than his
    nonverbal cognitive score, which was in the average range
    (i.e., SS = 90). In these ways, BD’s case was unique among
    children with NS in the sense that his diagnostic profile
    did not align with Pierpont et al.’s observation of syn-
    chronicity between cognitive and linguistic profiles among
    children with NS. Furthermore, despite the profound se-
    verity of his DLD, BD responded well to a short-term
    explicit text structure intervention and was able to learn
    how to identify compare-contrast signal words and in-
    crease his accuracy in responding to passage comprehen-
    sion questions.

    In conclusion, this case study illustrates the value of
    a text structure approach to reading comprehension inter-
    vention for an adolescent with language and literacy deficits
    secondary to NS. Given the limited research in this area
    and the results of this case study, further research is needed
    to expand the evidence base for the use of explicit text struc-
    ture intervention for adolescents with language and learning

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