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Ask A REL Response

December 2021


What research has been conducted on how leveled literacy intervention affects behaviors and success with readers with emotional behavioral disorders and/or dyslexia?


Following an established REL Southeast research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles on teaching phonological awareness using print at the same time. We focused on identifying resources that specifically addressed teaching phonological awareness using print at the same time. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, and general Internet search engines (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. These references are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Also, we searched the references in the response from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist.

Research References

  1. Chitiyo, A., King, S. A., Krizon, M. D., Ablakwa, C. N. Markelz, A. M. (2021). A methodological review of research syntheses involving reading interventions for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 46(4), 214-225.
    From the abstract: "Students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) exhibit problem behaviors that potentially result in lower performance in reading and related content areas. Researchers and policy makers have increasingly emphasized the need for evidence-based practices (EBPs) in reading. However, conclusions made regarding the effectiveness of the interventions strongly depend on the rigor of systematic reviews and meta-analyses used to identify intervention research. This article applied a set of established quality indicators to literature reviews of reading instruction for children with EBD. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in refereed journals between 1996 and 2018 were eligible for inclusion. Identified reviews (n = 17) generally exhibited a range of methodological strengths; however, authors did not consistently describe coding procedures or assess the quality of primary studies. Implications for the identification of EBP follow a discussion of findings."
  2. Fallon, K. A., Katz, L. A. (2020). Structured literacy intervention for students with dyslexia: Focus on growing morphological skills. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 51(2), 336-344.
    From the abstract: "Purpose: "Structured literacy" (SL) is an umbrella term used by the International Dyslexia Association that refers to evidence-based instructional approaches that incorporate all aspects of spoken language into the teaching of reading, spelling, and writing (International Dyslexia Association, 2016). SL has gained prominence in the field of reading but is less familiar to speech-language pathologists. This tutorial seeks to describe SL with specific attention to the morphological component. Using current research literature combined with descriptions of specific therapeutic practices, this tutorial offers research-informed, clinical strategies for facilitating the development of morphological skills in students with spoken and written language impairments including dyslexia. Method: In this tutorial, the authors focus on the research literature and clinical applications related to the topics of (a) spoken and written language impairments, including dyslexia; (b) SL intervention; (c) intervention in the areas of morphological awareness and analysis; and (d) the promotion of academic success in students who struggle with language and literacy. Conclusions: "SL" is a term used to unify and describe evidence-based principles and components that should be included in all effective reading and writing instructions. Among other linguistic skills, morphology holds a prominent place in SL. It is critical that speech-language pathologists become familiar with SL and the evidence-based practices for growing these students' morphological awareness skills in order to promote language and literacy success."
  3. Rivera, M. O., Al-Otaiba, S., & Koorland, M. A. (2006). Reading instruction for students with emotional and behavioral disorders and at risk of antisocial behaviors in primary grades: Review of literature. Behavioral Disorders, 31(3), 323-337.
    From the abstract: "Frequently, students with emotional and behavior disorders (EBD) exhibit academic underachievement combined with high levels of externalizing behaviors and resistance to instructional efforts. Regardless of the present reading initiatives, research focusing on interventions for teaching reading to students with EBD continues to be limited. This article extends previous efforts to review literature concerning reading instruction interventions for students with EBD. Specifically, this review focuses on interventions employed in primary grades. Because of the paucity in research and documented issues related to late and misidentification of students with EBD, studies including students at risk of antisocial behaviors were included. Eleven studies were found and carefully reviewed. Results demonstrate the efficacy of several reading interventions, including Direct Instruction, peer tutoring, and behaviorally based procedures such as time delay prompting, trial and error, and differential reinforcement. (Contains 2 tables.)"
  4. What Works Clearinghouse. (2017). Leveled literacy intervention. What Works Clearinghouse intervention report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
    From the abstract: ""Leveled Literacy Intervention" ("LLI") is a short-term, supplementary, small-group literacy intervention designed to help struggling readers achieve grade-level competency. The intervention provides explicit instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension, oral language skills, and writing. "LLI" helps teachers match students with texts of progressing difficulty and deliver systematic lessons targeted to a student's reading ability. The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) identified two studies of "LLI" that fall within the scope of the Beginning Reading topic area and meet WWC group design standards. Two studies meet WWC group design standards without reservations, and no studies meet WWC group design standards with reservations. Together, these studies included 747 students in grades K-2 in 22 schools in three school districts across three states. "LLI" had positive effects on general reading achievement, potentially positive effects on reading fluency, and no discernible effects on alphabetics for beginning readers."


Keywords and Search Strings
The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Emotional behavioral disorders, leveled literacy intervention
  • Leveled literacy intervention, dyslexia
  • Leveled literacy intervention

Databases and Resources
We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and PsychInfo.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published for last 15 years, from 2003 to present, were include in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: Following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types - randomized control trials,, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, etc., generally in this order (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, etc.), study duration, etc. (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, etc.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Southeast Region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast at Florida State University. This memorandum was prepared by REL Southeast under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0011, administered by Florida State University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.