Many middle- and high-school students have difficulty understanding what they read. Perhaps more importantly, many students have a particularly hard time finding main ideas when they have to “read between the lines” to infer the main ideas. This appears to be true for students with and without disabilities and across different disciplines in which they have to read for meaning. Difficulty with inferring main ideas also impacts student performance on state reading tests, in turn, affecting districts’ measures of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in conjunction with No Child Left Behind regulations.

The Main Idea Strategy is a strategy designed improve the performance of students with learning disabilities and other students who perform poorly on reading comprehension tasks requiring them to comprehend inferential main ideas. The Main Idea Strategy consists of five steps focused on identifying the details of a passage, determining how they are related, and inferring the main idea. The steps are easily remembered with the first-letter mnemonic device “MAIN-I.” Teachers teach the strategy to students following an instructional sequence divided into four parts. Most students substantially improve their performance determining main ideas in many types of reading materials and state tests.

The Main Idea Strategy Research



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