Cracking the code with supplemental tutoring

Patricia Vadasy explains how code-based support delivered by teaching assistants can make a real difference for children who are struggling to learn to read

THE UNDERLYING ISSUE FOR MOST PUPILS with serious reading problems is their struggle learning “the code” of the English language. This includes the not-always-obvious relationships between letters and sounds, not to mention the 52 visually and verbally similar labels for letter names and sounds. Struggling readers often need more practice and reinforcement to acquire word recognition skills than classroom teachers or even reading specialists can provide.

What we know
● Many pupils struggle with beginning word reading skills.
● Effective code-based intervention is explicit and intensive.
● Individual tutoring by teaching assistants effectively supplements classroom reading tuition for Year 1 and Year 2 pupils.
● Pair tutoring is also effective.
● EAL pupils also benefit, but with smaller effects than for native English speaking pupils.
● Pupils maintain treatment effects at one- and two-year follow-up.

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November 2011