Authors: Compton, Donald L.; Amanda C. Miller, Amy M. Elleman & Laura M. Steacy.
Publication: Scientific Studies of Reading (Taylor and Francis). 18:1, 55-73 2014 | DOI: 10.1080/10888438.2013.836200
Our contribution to this special issue on reading theory questions the effectiveness of the prevailing interventions intended to improve word-reading and reading comprehension skills in children with reading disability (RD). Our hypothesis is that we as a field may have inadvertently diluted reading theory in ways that compromise the power of intervention programs. For both word reading and reading comprehension we argue that current intervention programs target instruction at a knowledge level below that which is necessary to foster reading skill development that is “generative” in children with RD. Further, we contend that current interventions for children with RD fail to mimic and promote the inductive learning mechanisms that characterize typical reading development. Thus, we return to reading theory in an attempt to identify ways that current interventions may be reconceptualized to treat word-reading and reading comprehension deficits. In doing so, we call for the development of a new generation of reading interventions that target the fundamental knowledge structures and learning mechanisms known to support typical reading development.
In this article we question the effectiveness of current intervention approaches designed to ameliorate word identification and reading comprehension deficits in children with RD. In terms of word reading we argue against the long-term effectiveness of context-independent decoding instruction as an approach to efficiently add words to the orthographic lexicon via a self-teaching process. We contend that such an approach may inadvertently starve the evolving lexicon of fully specified orthographic representations (i.e., word representations) that drive the development of advanced “context-dependent” decoding relationships.