WWC review of this study

Effects of Teaching Syllable Skills Instruction on Reading Achievement in Struggling Middle School Readers [Syllable Skills Instruction Curriculum (SSIC) vs. business as usual]

Diliberto, Jennifer A.; Beattie, John R.; Flowers, Claudia P.; Algozzine, Robert F. (2009). Literacy Research and Instruction, v48 n1 p14-27. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ822147

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grades

Reviewed: November 2021

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Word and pseudoword reading outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Word Attack Subtest: Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement III

Syllable Skills Instruction Curriculum (SSIC) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
74 students





Letter-Word Identification Subtest: Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement III

Syllable Skills Instruction Curriculum (SSIC) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
74 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 3% English language learners

  • Female: 35%
    Male: 65%

  • Suburban
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    North Carolina
  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


The study sample included students in grades six through eight from three middle schools in one school district in south-central North Carolina. All students were enrolled in remediation classes and were identified as having, or being at risk for, reading disabilities/difficulties.

Study sample

The authors provided sample characteristic information on the 83 students that were present at the time of random assignment. Sixty-five percent were male and 35 percent were female. Twenty-seven percent were African American, 12 percent were Hispanic, and 61 percent were White. Three percent were classified as having English as a second language. Thirty-seven percent of students were identified with a high incidence disability: 22 with a learning disability, 7 with other health impairment for ADHD, 12 with a mild mental disability, and 1 with a behavioral emotional disability. Thirty-seven students were classified as at risk for reading failure based on receiving a non-passing score on the North Carolina End-of-Grade reading exam for the previous school year. All students were enrolled in district-wide remediation classes for reading.

Intervention Group

The study examined the effectiveness of a reading intervention for students struggling with reading. The scripted intervention, Syllable Skills Instruction Curriculum (SSIC), included 60 lessons involving four components: group review, new information, word reading, and written spelling. Each lesson took approximately 15 minutes. SSIC was supplemental to the core curriculum (Corrective Reading Program [CRP] or Success Maker) that all students received in their remediation classes. The study spanned 6 months. The only difference between the treatment and comparison conditions was the SSIC intervention.

Comparison Group

During the 6 months of the study, students in the comparison condition received business-as-usual core curriculum instruction in their remediation classes (either CRP or Success Maker).

Support for implementation

Participating teachers attended training for the CRP core curriculum prior to the start of the study. All teachers received professional development training on the SSIC intervention, which involved stating the purpose of the intervention as a supplement to CRP, understanding the lesson components and how to use the teacher manual and student workbooks, and modeling a lesson. Biweekly procedural reliability data was collected to assess consistency across teachers and lessons regarding SSIC and CRP.


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