Authors: Torgesen, Joseph K.; Richard K. Wagner & Carol A. Rashotte.

Article: Prevention and Remediation of Severe Reading Disabilities: Keeping the End In Mind.

Publication: Scientific Studies of Reading (Taylor and Francis). 1:3, 217-234 1997 | DOI: 10.1207/s1532799xssr0103_3

[Full Text]

This article addresses questions about instruction for children with severe reading disabilities in 2 ways. First, outcomes from 3 recent studies are examined within the context of a hierarchy of instructional goals derived from current theory about the processes involved in acquisition of reading skill. This analysis suggests that we still have much to learn about effective instruction for children with the most severe reading disabilities. The second part of the article reports preliminary results from a 2½-year prevention project in which 138 children received instruction by 3 different methods. The primary instructional contrast involved the intensity and degree of explicitness of instruction in phonological awareness and phonetic decoding strategies for word reading. Results showed a clear advantage in phonetic reading ability for 1 group of children at the end of the second grade. However, this group did not show corresponding advantages in word-reading vocabulary or reading comprehension. The article concludes with a discussion of weaknesses in current research that suggest questions for future intervention studies.


[W]e still do not have convincing evidence that the relative differences in growth of phonetic reading skills produced by certain instructional approaches lead to corresponding advantages in orthographic reading skills and reading comprehension for children with phonologically based reading disabilities.

We are simply pointing out that, given equivalent instructional time, approaches that produce greater gains in phonetic reading ability have not also produced greater gains in real-word reading ability and reading comprehension than approaches that provide less explicit instruction in phonics, but equivalent exposure to print. Thus we have not yet demonstrated that we understand the conditions that need to be in place for children with phonologically based reading disabilities to acquire the level or type of phonetic reading skills that can be utilized within a self-teaching framework to produce advantages in the development of a rich orthographic reading vocabulary.

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

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