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Curriculum Corner: Latest Thoughts and Research on Instruction

Two Article Reviews on the Importance of Early Reading Intervention

by Sam Chiang 2/19/2021

Two articles from The Reading League Journal, consolidate the converging research on the importance of screening, assessment, and evidence based intervention at the early elementary grades, particularly in Kindergarten and 1st grade.

The first article, "Dyslexia: An Ounce of Prevention is Better Than a Pound of Diagnosis and Treatment" by Drs. Hugh Catts and Tiffany Hogan explain the paradox of diagnosing dyslexia and providing intensive intervention usually around grade 2 when intensive intervention is less effective and more time-consuming than, say providing the intensive intervention in kindergarten and 1st grade. By screening for dyslexia earlier and providing the necessary instruction earlier, schools may be able to reduce the effects of dyslexia for student's word-reading abilities. In essence, the idea to prevent rather than react.

Key Quotations from "Dyslexia: An Ounce of Prevention is Better Than a Pound of Diagnosis and Treatment":

"...dyslexia is not generally diagnosed until children are in second grade or later...and negative consequences are well underway." (6)

"...word reading interventions were significantly more effective for improving reading outcomes when administered in kindergarten and first grade than they were when administered during later grades." (7)

"...dyslexia is not typically not diagnosed until well past the time that intervention is most effective." (7)

"Again, when we say prevent dyslexia, we do not mean to alter the neurological attributes that underline dyslexia, but rather reduce or eliminate the severe reading problems that characterize the disorder." (8)

The second article, "Brick by Brick: A Series of Landmark Studies Pointing to the Importance of Early Reading Intervention," by Drs. Emily Solari, Colby Hall, and Anita McGinty summarize the scientific studies' findings on early reading intervention. One of the more interesting findings noted in this article showed that several studies found that monitoring struggling readers throughout their academic lives continued to struggle reading if no intervention was applied. This suggests that the anecdotal idea that some students are reading "late bloomers" and that their reading difficulties will disappear on their own is a dangerous myth. The gap between between those who can and cannot doesn't narrow without something changing: high quality reading instruction/intervention.

Key Quotations from "Brick by Brick: A Series of Landmark Studies Pointing to the Importance of Early Reading Intervention"

"...reading difficulties in the early elementary grades do not "catch up" to their peers naturally, over time, in the absence of intervention." (20)

"...74% of children who were poor readers in Grade 3 remained poor readers in Grade 9." (19)

"Research has shown that students can be accurately and efficiently identified as at risk for having later reading difficulties as early as kindergarten." (19)

"...among the students who received only one year of the intervention, those who received it early--during Grade 1--outperformed their peers who received it in Grade 2 or Grade 3. Earlier was more effective than later." (19)

"...students who had access to reading intervention in kindergarten had significantly higher reading scores at the end of Grade 1 than their peers who did not." (19-20)

"On tests of word reading skill, children who received the intervention earlier (i.e. in Grades 1 or 2) made gains that were almost twice the gains made by children who received the intervention in Grade 3. At a follow-up (1-3 years later), the advantage of early intervention was maintained." (20)

"...school leaders and educators should push for early screening of all students in K and Grade 1..." (20)