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Alteration of the typical basal lesson format is an out growth of research on schema theory. Reutzel (1985) has suggested that while most basals emphasize post-reading assessment, "schema theory punctuates the importance of the prereading stage of the reading lesson" (p. 194). One reason for the alteration of the traditional basal format is that basal instruction often fails to compensate for inadequate student background knowledge. In a study of three elementary basal series, Afflerbach and Walker (1990) found that in 407 instructional units assessed, over half assumed that students possessed the prior knowledge necessary to understand the text. This finding may be linked to the contention that teachers frequently eliminate background knowledge-building activities from the prereading phase of instruction (Mason, 1983; Durkin, 1984). If basal publishers overestimate the adequacy of student background knowledge, it seems reasonable that teachers might also assume that students have adequate schema for understanding text selections. An honest assessment of what students already know or do not know about a topic before reading should give the teacher the impetus needed for altering the instructional format presented in the basal manual.

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