Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Efficacy of Peer-Mediated Incremental Rehearsal for English Language Learners

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Efficacy of Peer-Mediated Incremental Rehearsal for English Language Learners

Article excerpt

English language learners (ELLs), or youth who do not speak English at home and whose English proficiency limits their ability to access grade-level material, represent one of the fastest growing populations in the United States (Kena et al., 2014). Poor reading achievement has been a long-standing concern for ELL students (e.g., U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015), suggesting that school psychologists will be increasingly involved with supporting ELL students' reading achievement (August, McCardle, & Shanahan, 2014). This underscores the need for evidence-based interventions (EBIs) validated for ELL youth (Moore & Klingner, 2014).

Despite the progress in the identification of EBIs over the past decade, data suggest the use of EBIs remains limited in schools (e.g., Crosse et al., 2011; Kretlow & Helf, 2013). Bridging the gap between research and practice requires efficacious interventions that are contextually valid. The amount of teacher time and number of resources needed to deliver EBIs are critical threats to contextual validity (Skinner, McCleary, Skolits, Poncy, & Cates, 2013). Modifying existing EBIs is a promising approach to increase the contextual validity of these practices. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of one such modification, using peer interventionists to implement incremental rehearsal (IR; Tucker, 1989).


Reading is a complex process that incorporates multiple core skills--phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000). ELL students will generally benefit from systematic, intensive instruction in these core areas (August et al., 2014; Goldenberg, 2010). Word reading, or the ability to recognize single words by sight, is a foundational literacy skill for native English speakers (Hudson, Torgesen, Lane, & Turner, 2012; Samuels & Flor, 1997) and ELL students (August & Shanahan, 2006). Word reading is a predictor of later reading fluency (Hudson et al., 2012; Speece & Ritchey, 2005), and word reading skills may mediate the relationship between phonological awareness and reading fluency (Yaghoub Zadeh, Farnia, & Geva, 2012). Early deficits in word reading skills predict later delays for ELL students, suggesting that word reading is an important intervention target (Lesaux, Rupp, & Siegel, 2007; Vaughn, Mathes, Linan-Thompson, & Francis, 2005).

Intensive instruction for ELL students should be explicit and direct, maximize opportunities to respond, provide increased repetition of foundational skills, and provide immediate corrective feedback (Albers & Martinez, 2015; August & Shanahan, 2006). School psychologists should search for interventions that incorporate these aspects when working with ELL students. One such intervention is IR (Tucker, 1989).

IR involves the teaching of unknown items interspersed with a high percentage of known items. Interventionists provide direct and explicit teaching of unknown material when introducing unknown items. IR allows for substantial repetition and reinforcement of unknown and known vocabulary words. IR includes a large amount of scaffolding through the modeling of unknown items and immediate corrective feedback during practice. Moreover, interventionists can closely control the instructional level by adjusting the ratio of unknown to known words used per session and can adjust the amount of new information presented based on a student's acquisition rate. Providing interventions at the appropriate instructional level and avoiding exceeding a student's acquisition rate can lead to increased learning and retention of unknown material (Burns, 2007; Helman & Burns, 2008).


There is relatively robust evidence supporting the use of IR for teaching unknown words. …

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