Authors: Torgesen, Joseph K..

Article: Individual differences in response to early interventions in reading: The lingering problem of treatment resisters..

Publication: Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, (Taylor and Francis). 15(1), 55–64 2010 | DOI: 10.1207/SLDRP1501_6

[Full Text]


The goal of many recent intervention studies has been to examine the conditions that must be in place for all children to acquire adequate reading skills. Although the ultimate goal of reading instruction is to help children acquire the skills necessary to comprehend text, an important subgoal for early reading instruction is to teach children to identify words accurately on the printed page. Five recent studies of methods to prevent reading difficulties were examined in light of the goal that every child should acquire adequate word reading skills during early elementary school. It was estimated that our best current methods, if applied broadly, would leave anywhere from 2% to 6% of children with inadequate word reading skills in the first and second grades. Several broad characteristics of these “treatment resisters” are identified, and the implications of these findings for future research are discussed.




[T]he failure estimates provided from the five studies considered here lead to at least one important conclusion. We have not yet discovered the conditions that need to be in place for children with the most serious disabilities to acquire word-level reading skills in early elementary school, although we clearly know how to reduce sharply the number of children who leave first and second grades with weak skills in this area. Most of the estimates suggest that from 4% to 6% of children would still have weak word reading skills if those interventions were applied to all who needed them. It is interesting that these figures are very similar to the percentage of the population that currently is being served in programs for children with learning disabilities. Thus it may be the case that most of the interventions tested thus far are simply inadequate to prevent reading disabilities in the children who typically have been served by the public schools with this label.

Tagged as: nonresponse, phonics-based intervention, and treatment resistence

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