The Importance of Efficient Reading Interventions

March 15, 2011, Reading Horizons

The Importance of Efficient Reading Interventions

Remedial reading teachers all share the same instructional goal: help students become fluent readers who understand what they read.

The idea is to reach this goal as quickly as possible because studies show that the longer struggling readers wait to “catch up” to grade-level reading, the further they fall behind in their overall education. This is especially important because the older the struggling reader becomes, the less likely they will be to ever advance to reading at grade level. For example, only one-in-six middle school readers who are two grades or more behind their class ever catch up to their peers.

That’s why it is critical that reading intervention programs work quickly. More importantly, the reading curriculum and methodology must be something that the teacher can learn and convey in record time.

However, fast can often lead to a rushed, ineffective process.

How can you get the benefits of fast remediation without letting quality suffer?

Recent research has found that intensive, 12-week phonemic awareness training is actually more effective for struggling readers than longer, traditional reading remediation. In the study, children that were given this type of intensive remediation performed better in every reading assessment (word decoding, spelling, reading speed and reading comprehension) than the children that were given traditional remediation.

Phonemic awareness training was used in the study because as Ulrika Wolff of the University of Gothenburg explains: “Most researchers agree that the underlying problem [for struggling readers] is a limited phonological ability, in other words, limited awareness of the sounds that make up spoken words.”

How can you replicate this program for your students?

Here is what was included in the 12-week intensive training used in the study. 40 minutes of daily training on:

  • Letter blends (grapheme and phoneme combinations)
  • Phonetic and decoding skills
  • One-on-one reading practice (both aloud and silent)

It’s important to note that this study was only effective because the instruction was effective.


Learn how Reading Horizons structured literacy program helps students quickly fill the gaps in their reading skills.

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