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National Assessment of Title I - Final Report

NCEE 2008-4012
June 2008

A. Closing the Reading Gap

This evaluation examines four widely used programs for elementary school students with reading problems. The programs are Corrective Reading, Failure Free Reading, Spell Read P.A.T., and Wilson Reading, all of which were hypothesized to be more intensive and delivered by better-trained teachers than the reading instruction typically provided in public schools. The programs incorporate explicit and systematic instruction in the basic reading skills in which struggling readers are frequently deficient. Corrective Reading, Spell Read P.A.T., and Wilson Reading were implemented to provide word-level instruction, whereas Failure Free Reading focused on building reading comprehension and vocabulary in addition to word-level skills. Recent reports from small-scale research and clinical studies provide some evidence that the reading skills of students with severe reading difficulties in late elementary school can be substantially improved by providing, for a sustained period of time, the kinds of skillful, systematic, and explicit instruction that these programs offer.4

Conducted just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU), the evaluation has explored the extent to which the four reading programs can affect both the word-level reading skills (phonemic decoding, fluency, accuracy) and reading comprehension of students in grades three and five who were identified as struggling readers by their teachers and by low test scores. Ultimately, it provides educators with rigorous evidence of what could happen in terms of reading improvement if intensive, small-group reading programs like the ones in this study were introduced in many schools.

4 Torgesen, J.K. "Recent discoveries from Research on Remedial Interventions for Children with Dyslexia." In M. Snowling and C. Hulme, eds., The Science of Reading. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2005.