Authors: Suggate, Sebastian P..

Article: A Meta-Analysis of the Long-Term Effects of Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, and Reading Comprehension Interventions.

Publication: Journal of Learning Disabilities Volume 49, Issue 1, 77-96. ( first published online: April 4, 2014) 2016 | DOI: 10.1177/0022219414528540

[Full Text]

Much is known about short-term—but very little about the long-term—effects of reading interventions. To rectify this, a detailed analysis of follow-up effects as a function of intervention, sample, and methodological variables was conducted. A total of 71 intervention-control groups were selected (N = 8,161 at posttest) from studies reporting posttest and follow-up data (M = 11.17 months) for previously established reading interventions. The posttest effect sizes indicated effects (dw = 0.37) that decreased to follow-up (dw = 0.22). Overall, comprehension and phonemic awareness interventions showed good maintenance of effect that transferred to nontargeted skills, whereas phonics and fluency interventions, and those for preschool and kindergarten children, tended not to. Several methodological features also related to effect sizes at follow-up, namely experimental design and dosage, and sample attrition, risk status, and gender balance.

Additional Findings

  • Long term effects of interventions was small. “[O]n average, 11 months after participating in interventions with a phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, or comprehension approach, a small effect of the intervention remained.” [d = 0.22]
  • Long term effect was better for older children (grades 3 and 4) than for younger children (preschool / kindergarden): “it was particularly evident that the younger the intervention sample, the lower the effect size at follow-up, despite moderate posttest effect sizes.”
  • Phonics-based interventions (connecting sounds to letters to words) were much less effective at follow up than phonemic awareness interventions.
  • Interventions with a comprehension component were the most effective. (“the findings robustly indicate that comprehension interventions have good effects at followup on a host of skills not specifically targeted in the interventions”)

Tagged as: comprehension, phonemic awareness, phonics-based intervention, and wordmeaning


Suggate, S. P. (2016). A Meta-Analysis of the Long-Term Effects of Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, and Reading Comprehension Interventions. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 49(1), 77–96.

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