Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS)
Effective Reading Intervention for Children with Special Needs?
Classrooms today are filled with an increasingly diverse range of students. Many teachers feel unequipped to accommodate such diverse instructional needs of those with and without disabilities in their classrooms (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1997; Vaughn, S., Gersten, R., & Chard, D.J., 2000). This is not due to a lack of effective reading interventions or instructional strategies, but is more about the inaccessibility of strategies that teachers can employ with large groups of students who have a wide range of academic needs (Vaughn et al., 2000). Through experimental research, only a few instructional approaches have demonstrated positive outcomes for students with diverse learning needs while being delivered in a general education setting (McMaster, K. L., Fuchs, D., & Fuchs, L. S., 2006). One such approach is Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS).
Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) is a class-wide peer-tutoring program which is designed to improve the reading achievement of children with various academic needs. PALS was modeled after the class-wide peer tutoring program (CWPT) that was developed at the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project at the University of Kansas by Greenwood, Delquadri, Stretton, and Hall in the 1980s (Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., & Burish, P., 2000). Researchers at Vanderbilt University, in collaboration with classroom teachers around the Nashville area, modified CWPT into a program that involves more strategic reading behaviors (Fuchs, Fuchs, & Kazdan, 1999; Fuchs et al., 2000).
Like CWPT, PALS requires teachers to reorganize their classes into student pairs. In order to form these pairs, teachers first administer a quick assessment to obtain a baseline score for each student. Once a teacher has determined the strongest and weakest readers in the classroom, student pairs can be formed. It is recommended...