Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Research and Reform in Education has conducted a meta-analysis on effective programs for struggling readers in elementary school, which recently appeared in Reading Research Quarterly.
A total of 65 studies of 51 different programs were included in the review: 83% were randomized experiments and 17% quasi-experiments. The qualified studies were organized into five categories based on the RTI (Response to Intervention) framework, a categorization widely used in the U.S. RTI provides a means of categorizing reading interventions as prevention within the general education class (Tier 1), moderately intensive intervention (Tier 2), or intensive intervention (Tier 3). Results showed that:
- There were significant positive outcomes for tutoring programs (ES = +0.26) with larger effects for one-to-one tutoring (Tier 3, ES = +0.41) compared to one-to-small group tutoring (Tier 2, ES = +0.24).
- Multitiered whole-school approaches incorporating tutoring and whole-class approaches (Tier 1) had similar effects as tutoring programs, with the advantage of involving a larger number of students.
- Multitiered whole-school approaches and whole-class Tier 1 approaches showed a non-significant effect size of +0.27 and of +0.31, respectively. Technology-supported adaptive instruction (Tier 2) had a small, non-significant impact (ES = +0.09).
The article supports the expanded use of all forms of tutoring, as well as whole-class approaches emphasizing cooperative learning and phonics. Whole-school approaches incorporating tutoring for struggling readers and class instruction showed particular promise.
Source: Neitzel, A. J., Lake, C., Pellegrini, M., & Slavin, R. E. (2020). A synthesis of quantitative research on programs for struggling readers in elementary schools. Reading Research Quarterly. Advanced online piblication. Doi: 10.1002/rrq.379