What works for struggling readers

Robert Slavin reviews research on all types of programs intended to help struggling readers in the elementary grades: one-to-one tutoring, small-group methods, technology, cooperative 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 elementary grades are likely to have problems in all areas of schooling, are unlikely to graduate, and may develop serious behavioral or emotional problems. Making certain that every child is successful in reading has to be one of the most important goals for every elementary 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 paraprofessionals and small-group methods also work well.
● Classroom process approaches, such as cooperative learning, are effective for upper-elementary students struggling in reading.
● CAI has little benefit for struggling readers.
● Comprehensive models that combine cooperative learning, tutoring, and other strategies work best.

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November 2011