Samson - an Informal Reading Inventory

8-year-old Samson resides with his parents in the tiny New England town of Rockport. He has three sisters and one sibling. He is a fourth-grader at Holy Heart School. The young man has a great sense of humor and is loved by people of all ages. Samson is an avid dirt biker who is knowledgeable about bicycle components despite the fact that riding a bike is a childhood ritual for most kids. This young guy, however, has a significant reading issue. His parents claim that they noticed the speech problem at a very tender age and had to enroll him to speech and language classes when he had turned 3 years old.

Samson has a specific reading problem called expressive language delays. According to New York Times (2017), expressive language entails combining words for expression or forming thoughts. Expressive language condition result when one has a challenge of using language to express himself or communicate, which is linked to developmental delay, autism, and pervasive developmental disorder. Children with this condition usually cognize what they what to say but lack the ability to express themselves. Communication delay is mostly associated with behavioral characteristics (Icommunicatetherapy). The inability to communicate may cause a child to behave inappropriately. For instance, Samson sometimes becomes upset and frustrated to the point of destroying anything within his vicinity when he fails to communicate or express himself (Epstein, 2012). Parents have expressed significant concerns with his behaviors including social maturity, perseveration, frustration tolerance, avoidance behavior and interaction with peers (Hesch, 2015). His teacher also noted his impulsive character one morning when he threw a pen the fellow pupil when he failed to construct a sentence. Some other behavioral concerns expressed by Samson’s parents are avoidance and perseveration (Trevino-Zimmerman, 2008).

Informal Reading Inventory process

Miss Lona, Samson’s third-grade teacher, asked the students to read particular texts aloud for independent reading. Just like his classmates, Samson picked a book but he was unable to identify various words and spent several minutes reading and rereading the first sentence. The following day, the teacher used an informal reading inventory (IRI) to obtain the Samson/s reading level of materials. IRI is a screening tool used to determine the reading instruction level of Samson and identify strengths and weakness in his reading profile (Morris, 2015). Before administering IRI, the teacher set the stage for testing by ensuring IRI, scoring sheets, tape recorder, stop watch, paper, and pencil were present (Roe & Burns, 2011). The teacher and Samson had a little conversation to create a stress free environment. This made Samson to be comfortable, relaxed, and willing to participate in the Informal Reading Inventory. During the chat, the teacher noted that he loves watching cartoon and bicycle riding. She then explained to the student the functions of all the tools and materials before him. The teacher then administered the graded word list to determine Samson’s appropriate grade level. Miss Lona read the introductory statement to Samson and asked him to read the passage orally. She then removed the passage from his view and asked the accompanying comprehensive questions (Eells, 2014).

Samson seemed to be relaxed and less nervous during the IRI process. The teacher later found out that Samson’s parents had enlightened him on the benefit of the procedure. That is why he was so comfortable with the teacher and the whole IRI process. Samson is at level six of the current chronological placement. Therefore, Miss Lona started at the fourth level, which is two levels before the anticipated reading result.

Analysis of the assessment results

The IRI results to obtain Samson’s instructional reading level placed him at a frustration level. Samson’s verbal communication was labored and not fluent. The teacher found it difficult to estimate the levels of his comprehension reading when he was asked to story tell or read a passage. The teacher claimed that he was convinced that Samson visibly understood the passage more than he could communicate it. This was evident when he could note an illustration or remember a certain phrase but unable to talk about it in detail. When urged to talk more on the phrase or illustration, he will just keep quite. The results showed that his word retrieval, comprehensive language, and working memory below the expected level. His weakness in executive function especially planning was also noted. Despite the results of informal reading inventory, his teacher argues that Samson has the ability of contributing significantly in class during class discussions and capable of learning new and complex words. Based on IRI results, Samson displayed some strength. His oral comprehension background knowledge and receptive vocabulary are excellent.

Overall, the teacher is satisfied that Samson performed really well, and there were no limitations of discomfort or fear. The results displayed by the IRI resemble dyslexia. Dyslexia is a condition on characterized by various and continuous weakness in identification of words and decoding. At this point, Samson needs to be provided with print. Print helps him to grow in his fundamental reading skills hence reducing the gap between his peers and him. After understanding Samson’s learning profile, it was easy to find appropriate intervention strategies to address the condition.

From the results, it is evident that IRI is a general education initiative aimed at preventing reading challenges especially in children. Samson’s case shows how IRI can also be used to revitalize special education services for children with severe reading problems. For the intervention process to be successful, the examiner needs to follow IRI instructions carefully while considering the child’s behavioral and social history. Most children who experience reading challenges may also display attention and self-regulation challenges. Therefore, the challenges need expert attention. During intervention process, one has to very precise and relentless to achieve accurate results. Moreover, professionals and school support is required to achieve the targeted high-quality results.

Implications for teaching strategies

Various teaching strategies can be used to address Samson’s challenges.

Computer Program

A computerized program built by Ilhot called Read Naturally can aid Samson improve on his fluency. The computer naturally reads a passage or a story vividly and fluently, the rate of reading then increases progressively when the passage is repeated (Read Naturally, Inc., 2017). Samson will be required to repeat the readings of the passage until he attains a predetermined goal rate. In Samson’s case, it is advised that a Spelling Words for Writing program should be used. The program will motivate him to use visualization to copy and unscramble words that are of high frequency. This program will aid him to learn how to spell words he already knows which in turn develops his functional writing competencies. After understanding and knowing the common words, the teacher can then introduce new vocabularies that are applicable to the subject matter. For example, if the subject matter was science, the teacher can incorporate words such as ecology, parasites, or photosynthesis.

Use of concise language

Samson’s vocabulary and comprehensive challenge can be controlled in various ways. Parents and teachers should use concise verbal language communicate requests, instructions, or for general chat and restrain from excessive verbose explanations. The gap can also be addressed by making sure he has access to books that his age group or peers read. The teacher should then group students in twos or threes. One student reads a passage while others contribute. The teacher should ensure that Samson participates as much as possible. The teachers can also read the stories loud to Samson. Allowing him to access complex and difficult words and texts and involving in cooperative solving of problems is vital to enable him be a more active contributor in his literacy block.

Reading decodable words

The key focus of Samson’s intervention plan should be to improve his expressive communication skills. During the evaluation process, the teacher noticed that he had specific challenges in phonics like short vowels. He also had gaps in word families or phonograms like ack and ake, ish and ash, and ip and op. likewise, recognizing sight words was challenging. Moreover, he had challenges in joining sounds to form words. The challenges can be controlled through reading words from particular word families in steadily longer segments. These words can be found in decodable texts, sentences, or meaningful phrases (Tilanus, Segers, &Verhoeven, 2016). Extended practice by reading selected decodable and controlled texts like can aid in boosting his confidence. With time, he will be able to solve complex problems, self-correct, and decode unfamiliar texts or words.

Concrete items

Samson has a challenge of finding the word he wants to express. Concrete items can be used to aid Samson express himself. Tangible items allow him to utilize his brain system to express his thoughts. For instance, the child can be provided with miniature items that aid him to show what he wants. Likewise, the teacher can provide Samson with picture boards that he can point to when he is unable to express it verbally. In this approach, the parent or teacher needs to link the item with the picture or item for the student to comprehend. After sometime, the child will be able to express the item orally without the help of the picture (Smith-Lock et al, 2013).


Eells, J. M. (2014). Informal Reading Inventory. Encyclopedia of Special Education. doi:10.1002/9781118660584.ese1223

Epstein, B. (2012). Translating Expressive Language in Children’s Literature. doi:10.3726/978-3-0353-0271-4

Hesch, K. (2015, January 2). Expressive Language Delay. Retrieved from

Icommunicate therapy. (2017). Behaviour and Communication. Retrieved from

Morris, D. (2015). Morris informal reading inventory: Preprimer through grade 8.

New York Times. (2017, November 10). Expressive Language Disorder - Developmental. New York Times.

Read Naturally, Inc. (2017). Research-Based Reading Interventions. Retrieved from

Roe, B. D., & Burns, P. C. (2011). Informal reading inventory: PREPRIMER TO TWELFTH GRADE. Wadsworth Cengage.

Smith-Lock, K. M., Leitao, S., Lambert, L., & Nickels, L. (2013). Effective intervention for expressive grammar in children with specific language impairment. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 48(3), 265-282. doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12003

Tilanus, E. A., Segers, E., & Verhoeven, L. (2016). Responsiveness to Intervention in Children with Dyslexia. Dyslexia, 22(3), 214-232. doi:10.1002/dys.1533

Trevino-Zimmerman, K. (2008). The Impact of Early Intervention Programs on Young Children with Speech and Language Delay:Comparison and Analysis.

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