Cracking the code with supplemental tutoring

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

THE UNDERLYING ISSUE FOR MOST STUDENTS 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 students struggle with beginning word reading skills.
● Effective code-based intervention is explicit and intensive.
● Individual tutoring by paraeducator tutors effectively supplements classroom reading instruction for kindergarten and first-grade students.
● Pair tutoring is also effective.
● ELs also benefit, but with smaller effects than for native English speaking students.
● Students maintain treatment effects at one- and two-year follow-up.

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November 2011