Extensive Reading Interventions for Students With Reading Difficulties After Grade 3

Issue/Topic: Reading/Literacy
Author(s): Wanzek, Jeanne; Vaughn, Sharon; Scammacca, Nancy; Metz, Kristina; Murray, Christy; Roberts, Greg; Danielson, Louis
Organization(s): University of Texas at Austin; American Institutes for Research; The Florida State University
Publication: Review of Educational Research
Published On: 2013

Schoolwide models for literacy instruction and intervention, such as response to intervention (RTI) models, have been designed to address large numbers of students struggling with reading in schools by ensuring effective, evidence-based general education instruction; early identification of students struggling with reading; high-quality intervention; and progress monitoring for informed decision-making.

To extend a previous kindergarten to third grade synthesis of extensive interventions to Grades 4 through 12 by addressing two questions related to extensive interventions (more than 75 sessions) for struggling readers: 1) How effective are extensive reading interventions in improving reading outcomes for students with reading difficulties or disabilities, and 2) What features of extensive interventions (e.g. group size, duration, grade level) are associated with improved outcomes for students?

  • Extensive interventions (more than 75 sessions) can have a small, positive impact on student learning across a variety of reading outcomes for students in Grades 4 through 12.

  • There was no evidence that student outcomes differed in relation to:

    • The relative number of hours in intervention,

    • Whether the intervention was provided in small or large groups, and

    • Whether the intervention was provided in upper-elementary or secondary grades.

  • Unlike in Grades 4 through 12, research has indicated that student outcomes of extensive interventions in Grades Kindergarten through 3 are positively affected by smaller group sizes and shorter interventions.

  • Overall, the findings provide compelling evidence that accelerating reading growth in the upper grades may be more challenging than in the earliest grades, even when extensive interventions are implemented. Nonetheless, the overall small effects noted illustrate that adolescence is not too late to intervene and that student achievement can be improved in small amounts through extensive interventions.

Policy Implications/Recommendations:
  • Continued research examining the types of instruction and the features of instruction is needed to significantly accelerate learning for adolescents with reading difficulties and disabilities, and effective grouping practices may still need to be defined within these interventions.
To purchase full text: http://rer.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/02/11/0034654313477212

Research Design:
Literature review

Struggling reader in Grades 4 through 12.

Year data is from:


Data Collection and Analysis:
Conducted a literature review yielding 10 studies that met criteria for the synthesis.


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