Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Effects of Individualized and Standardized Interventions on Middle School Students with Reading Disabilities

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Effects of Individualized and Standardized Interventions on Middle School Students with Reading Disabilities

Article excerpt

The literature on multitiered, research-based reading interventions provides strong evidence for the critical role of early reading instruction and the benefits of early intervention for children who are struggling to learn to read (Denton, Fletcher, Anthony, & Francis, 2006). Although applying effective prevention programs that address early reading difficulties is fundamental to preventing further reading difficulties in at-risk children, intervention approaches for students who have already exhibited reading failure have less empirical support (Kamil et al., 2008). In particular, few experimental studies document the effects of multitiered intervention approaches in reading for students in the middle grades. To address this need, we designed a series of studies to determine the effects of these interventions on students with reading disabilities in Grades 6 through 8. This article reports findings from a study in which students who were inadequate responders to a previously provided Tier 1 intervention (enhanced instructional practices in vocabulary and comprehension) and Tier 2 intervention (supplemental daily reading instruction for at-risk students; Vaughn, Cirino, et al., 2010; Vaughn, Wanzak, et al., 2010) received one of two conceptually different tertiary interventions (Tier 3): individualized or standardized treatments. At-risk students randomly assigned to the comparison condition in Year 1 remained in that condition.

BACKGROUND ON READING INSTRUCTION FOR OLDER STUDENTS WITH READING DIFFICULTIES

A significant number of students demonstrate reading difficulties that persist into their middle and high school years. In 2007, the National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that 69% of eighth-grade students were unable to successfully derive meaning from grade-level text. With such a high prevalence of reading problems in the middle grades and an increasing focus on improving high school retention and preparing students for postsecondary learning, adolescent reading instruction has become increasingly important (Kamil et al., 2008).

Older students demonstrate a broad and complex range of difficulties related to reading. These include problems in recognizing words, understanding word meanings, and understanding and connecting with text; students often lack background knowledge required for reading comprehension (Biancarosa & Snow, 2004). We examined several syntheses on interventions for secondary students with reading difficulties to identify effective interventions to meet this range of reading difficulties. Edmonds et al. (2009) conducted a meta-analysis examining the effects of adolescent reading interventions (Grades 6 through 12) that included instruction in decoding, fluency, vocabulary, or comprehension on reading comprehension outcomes. Analyses revealed a mean weighted effect size in the moderate range in favor of treatment students over comparison students. Promising approaches were those that provided targeted reading intervention in comprehension, multiple reading components, or word-recognition strategies.

In a related meta-analytic synthesis, Scammacca et al. (2007) examined single- and multicomponent interventions to determine the effect of various intervention components on reading-related outcomes, including and in addition to reading comprehension outcomes. Most of the studies reported outcomes using nonstandardized measures, which inflated the overall effect sizes. Of the 11 studies that used only standardized measures, the mean effect size was 0.42, with lower effects for word-study interventions than for comprehension- or vocabulary-focused studies. Using only standardized outcome measures (not available for vocabulary), the impact of moderator variables shifted, with word study and comprehension strategy instruction demonstrating the highest effect sizes. The researchers found higher effect sizes associated with researcher-implemented interventions and middle school participants rather than high school participants. …

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