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Reading Difficulties and
Early Intervention and Prevention
by Sue Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw
A student teacher asks: Can
you send me some research articles about how children learn to
read in school with support?
Whitney, research editor for Wrightslaw,
replies: "Children do not learn to read with support. They learn to read with direct instruction. Reading is a learned skill. For many children, reading is not a skill that develops naturally as they mature."
According to the Nation's Report Card for 2017. Compared to 2015, there was a 1-point increase in the average reading score at grade 8 in 2017, but no significant change in the average score for reading at grade 4, or for mathematics at either grade. 36 percent of fourth graders
are proficient readers - and more nearly 60 percent are not proficient. 4th grade scores remain the same from 2015, with no significant increase.
24 percent of eighth graders are "below
Advanced: Signifies superior performance
Proficient: Represents solid academic performance and competency
on challenging subject matter.
Basic: Denotes partial mastery of fundamental skills for grade-level
performance. (Source: Associated Press)
Preventing Reading Difficulties
The last word on reading research is Preventing
Reading Difficulties in Young Children by the National Research
Council and published by the National
examines reading problems and introduces
concepts used by experts in the field. In a clear and readable narrative,
you learn about word identification, comprehension, and normal reading
You learn about the factors that put children at risk of poor reading.
You learn how literacy can be fostered from birth through kindergarten
and the primary grades. The publication includes an evaluation
of philosophies, systems, and materials commonly used to teach reading.
can order this publication as a hardback book, a PDF book, or both.
You can also skim this publication online for free. Download archived article free.
Report of the National Reading Panel
1997, because reading scores had not improved in 30 years, Congress
asked the National Institutes of Health to convene a national panel
to assess the effectiveness of different approaches used to teach
children to read.
In 2000, the National
Reading Panel (NRP) released its findings in two reports and a
video entitled, "Teaching Children to Read."
Children to Read"- Summary Report of the National Reading Panel - This report is an excellent resource for parents, teachers,
administrators, or anyone interested in learning about reading instruction
Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children
to Read - This guide summarizes the findings of the National Reading
Panel and suggests how to use these findings to teach reading in the
classroom. Describes the five areas of reading instruction: phonemic
awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension, implications
for classroom instruction, and examples of how the findings can be
implemented. (Free, 58 pages)
Put Reading First: A Parents' Guide (8 page brochure) Order brochure.
will also find useful information in the reading
section of the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development
Institute for Literacy (1991-2010)
Institute for Literacy published documents on reading and literacy-related
topics. Some publications may still be avaialable.
Child Becomes a Reader: Proven Ideas for Parents from Research --
Birth to Preschool, September 2002. Bonnie B. Armbruster, Fran
Lehr and Jean Osborn.
does a child learn to read? Many people might say in kindergarten
or first grade. But researchers have told us that children can begin
to learn reading and writing at home, long before they go to school.
This booklet offers advice for parents of children from birth to preschool
on how to support reading development at home, and how to recognize
preschool and day care activities that start children on the road
to becoming readers."
Child Becomes a Reader: Proven Ideas for Parents from Research --
Kindergarten through Grade Three, September 2002. Bonnie B. Armbruster,
Fran Lehr and Jean Osborn. ED Pubs Document EX0027P.
"The road to becoming a reader begins the day a child is born
and continues through the end of third grade. At that point, a child
must read with ease and understanding to take advantage of the learning
opportunities in fourth grade and beyond. This booklet offers advice
for parents of children from grades K-3 on how to support reading
development at home, and how to recognize effective instruction in
their children's classrooms."
Reading Resources from the U. S. Department
"Editors picks" from a comprehensive list of free publications
from the U. S. Department of Education. http://www.ed.gov/teachers/how/read/edpicks.jhtml?src=fp
Children do not learn to read with support. They learn to read with
Everyone involved in teaching children to read - parents and educators
- need to read Preventing
Early Reading Failure and Its Devastating Downward Spiral by Joseph
K. Torgesen (published in the American
Educator by the American Federation
of Teachers. According to Dr. Torgesen:
"Children who are destined to be poor readers in fourth grade
almost invariably have difficulties in kindergarten and first grade
with critical phonological skills . . . These weak phonological skills,
in turn, mean it is difficult for these children to identify (decode)
unknown words, and their efforts to do so produce many errors. Naturally,
these children find it difficult, even unpleasant, to read independently
Their problems then spiral." Read
Reading Instruction and Elements of an Effective Reading Program and Where We Stand on Reading from the American
Federation of Teachers.
"Reading is the fundamental skill upon which all formal education
depends. Research clearly shows that children who are poor readers at the end of first grade are never likely to acquire the reading skills they need to successfully complete elementary school - unless these students are identified early in their school career and given the intensive, systematic intervention they require."
and Prevention from Reading
"Early interventions are designed to help students before they
begin to fail. Knowing which students are at risk for reading difficulty,
and knowing what to do for those students are the first steps in providing
effective early intervention. Find out how to use this knowledge to
help prevent reading problems for struggling readers."
Learn about Intervention and Prevention
Reading Research from Reading
"Enormous amounts of reading and literacy research is available
from the U.S. Department of Education, journals, associations, and
other entities. These suggestions and links will help you find what
you need." Learn
about reading research.
Research Based Instruction (RBI)
Florida Center for Reading Research has reviews
of reading programs and curricula. You will also find publications
and articles about the science
of reading, reading
reading, and parent resources.
Partnership for Reading is a searchable database about effective
research based reading programs for children, adolescents, and adults.
On this site, you will learn about research, principles about reading
instruction, and products for parents, teachers, administrators, and
policymakers. (Sponsored by The National Institute for Literacy, National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the U.S. Department
The Center for Parent Information and Resources (formerly The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities, NICHCY) will connect you to the
knowledge base that has accumulated over many years of investigation
Legal Definitions of Reading and Essential
Components of Reading Instruction
The No Child Left Behind Act contained the legal
definitions of reading and essential components of reading instruction.
Note: Congress has reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the statute formerly known as No Child Left Behind. The new statute, Every Student Succeeds Act, was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015.
more about reading.
Last Revised: 11/05/18
Meet Sue Whitney
Sue Whitney of Manchester, New
Hampshire, is the research editor for Wrightslaw.
Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that is
published by Harbor House Law Press.
In Doing Your Homework, she
writes about reading, research based instruction, No Child Left Behind, and
strategies for using federal education standards to advocate for
and to improve public schools. Her articles have been reprinted by SchwabLearning.org, EducationNews.org, Bridges4Kids.org, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys. Sue Whitney's bio.
Sue has served on New Hampshire's Special Education State
Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities
has been a volunteer educational surrogate parent. She currently works with families as a special education advocate.
© 2002-2018 by Suzanne Whitney.