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Intensive Summer Intervention Drives Linear Growth of Reading Skill in Struggling Readers

Donnelly, M. P., Huber, E., Yeatman, D. J. (2019). Intensive Summer Intervention Drives Linear Growth of Reading Skill in Struggling Readers. Frontiers in Psychology.

Abstract

A major achievement of reading research has been the development of effective intervention programs for struggling readers. Most intervention studies employ a pre-post design, to examine efficacy, but this precludes the study of growth curves over the course of the intervention program. Determining the time-course of improvement is essential for cost-effective, evidence-based decisions on the optimal intervention dosage. The goal of this study was to analyze reading growth curves during an intensive summer intervention program. A cohort of 31 children (6–12 years) with reading difficulties (N = 21 with dyslexia diagnosis) were enrolled in 160 h of intervention occurring over 8 weeks of summer vacation. We collected behavioral measures over 4 sessions assessing decoding, oral reading fluency, and comprehension. Mixed-effects modeling of longitudinal measurements revealed a linear dose-response relationship between hours of intervention and improvement in reading ability; there was significant linear growth on every measure of reading skill and none of the measures showed non-linear growth trajectories. Decoding skills showed substantial growth [Cohen’s d = 0.85 (WJ Basic Reading Skills)], with fluency and comprehension growing more gradually [d = 0.41 (WJ Reading Fluency)]. These results highlight the opportunity to improve reading skills over an intensive, short-term summer intervention program, and the linear dose-response relationship between duration and gains enables educators to set reading level goals and design a treatment plan to achieve them.

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