Intensive interventions boost at-risk first-graders' reading development

Mar 06, 2008

First-graders in Oregon and Texas, identified as at-risk because of a lack of early literacy skills, showed dramatic improvements across a range of reading measures after receiving extra instructional time systematically designed to enhance reading development, according to researchers at two institutions.

In the study, published in the March/April issue of the Journal of Learning Disabilities, 21 at-risk students in Oregon, in groups of four or fewer kids, received an intensive 60-minute daily intervention. In Texas, 33 similarly at-risk students, in groups no larger than five, received an intensive daily 30-minute intervention. The sessions were carried out during the school year, focused on similar skill development and were delivered in a similar explicit and systematic manner. The main difference was length of time devoted to the students.

"This study looked at the role of time with students most at risk for reading difficulties to determine whether doubling intervention time at the beginning of first grade is an efficient use of instructional time," said Beth A. Harn, professor of special education at the University of Oregon.

The Oregon students in the longer sessions scored higher on end-of-the-year testing, but all students receiving the extra instruction improved with many of their scores ending in the average range against national norms.

"The significantly greater growth in fluency for all of these students who received more intense intervention is indeed noteworthy," said Harn, who led the study. "A lot of early interventions in the past have done an exceptional job of filling gaps in phonemic awareness, phonics and comprehension, but closing the gap in fluency has represented a struggle."

The Oregon approach was more intensive, increasing instructional support significantly for the most at-risk students, beginning in first grade. In Texas, intensifying to the same level was not available until students were in second grade.

In Oregon, during the first half of the school year, most time was spent on word analysis, such as phonics and word recognition, followed by passage reading and comprehension and reading fluency. In the second half of the school year the intervention focus shifted, with more time spent in passage reading with comprehension and fluency development and less time in word analysis.

The results suggested that students in the longer intervention outperformed students in the less intense intervention on all outcomes except passage comprehension. The greatest differences were found in improvements on oral reading fluency for students in the longer intervention.

Researchers theorize that longer, 60-minute sessions may provide students with the additional practice they need to master early literacy skills. Whether the improvements will continue to be demonstrated across later years is not known, Harn said. "This was a post-hoc study," the authors wrote, "limiting direct comparisons and generalization."

Harn and colleagues also noted that the interventions analyzed in their research involved schools experienced in using research-based instructional and assessment practices with multi-layered support systems. Because of that pre-condition, Harn said, an exact replication of the study in schools that do not use such approaches may be difficult.

"The study certainly has implications in how schools approach their instruction and interventions," said Harn, who led the analysis of data from the Oregon schools. Schools may want to allocate more instructional resources earlier for struggling students, rather than waiting until later grades when it becomes more difficult to catch up struggling readers, she said.

Source: University of Oregon

Explore further: Allergan sues Valeant, claims fraud in buy attempt (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Surveillance a part of everyday life

Jul 24, 2014

Details of casual conversations and a comprehensive store of 'deleted' information were just some of what Victoria University of Wellington students found during a project to uncover what records companies ...

Extra time in math class has its minuses, scholar says

Jul 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Eric Taylor, a PhD student at Stanford University's Center for Education Policy Analysis, found that students who spent more of the school day in math class had higher math scores, but the gains ...

Scientists study how complexity developed from simple cell

Jul 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Consider this a matter of scrambling down the family tree to its roots. Really old roots. Or perhaps it's more like blowing the dust off the family album—the human album—and opening to the first pages billions ...

Recommended for you

Exploring 3-D printing to make organs for transplants

Jul 30, 2014

Printing whole new organs for transplants sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but the real-life budding technology could one day make actual kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs for patients ...

High frequency of potential entrapment gaps in hospital beds

Jul 30, 2014

A survey of beds within a large teaching hospital in Ireland has shown than many of them did not comply with dimensional standards put in place to minimise the risk of entrapment. The report, published online in the journal ...

User comments : 0