What works for struggling readers

Robert Slavin reviews research on all types of programmes intended to help primary school struggling readers: one-to-one tutoring, small group methods, technology, co-operative learning, and comprehensive school reform

EVERY EDUCATOR AND PARENT knows how important it is for children to get off to a good start in reading. Children who do not read well in the early primary years are likely to have problems in all areas of schooling, and may develop serious behaviour or emotional problems. Making certain that every child is successful in reading has to be one of the most important goals for every primary school.

What we know
● One-to-one tutoring with phonetic materials and well-trained teachers works very well, but is most expensive.
● One-to-one phonetic tutoring by teaching assistants and small-group methods also work well.
● Classroom process approaches, such as co-operative learning, are effective for upper primary pupils struggling in reading.
● ICT has little benefit for struggling readers.
● Comprehensive models that combine co-operative learning, tutoring, and other strategies work best.

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November 2011