The Nature of Reading Problems: Research-Based Reading Interventions

Dr. David Kilpatrick, Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York College at Cortland and author of Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties, partners with CORE for an informative webinar delving into methods for effective reading assessment and research-based reading interventions.

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • How “the Simple View of Reading” is actually quite complex,
  • The fact that not all so-called research-based reading interventions are created equal,
  • Which kinds of studies yield the strongest intervention results,
  • And much more!

Read below for an overview of this portion of David Kilpatrick’s illuminating webinar.

Research-Based Reading Interventions: The Simple View of Reading

 “Assessment can flow directly from our understanding of how reading works,” says David Kilpatrick, “and our understanding of the skills required for proficient reading.”

Through the scientific theory of the Simple View of Reading, we understand that reading comprehension is the product of word-level reading and language comprehension.

Both of these broad skills are very complex. For instance, “language comprehension” includes skill sets such as attention, working memory, background knowledge and more. Likewise, “word-level reading” includes cipher skills, word-specific knowledge, oral phonological skills, letter-sound knowledge/proficiency and many, many more. In this webinar, David Kilpatrick recommends specific effective reading assessments for various elements under the Simple View of Reading.

The Simple View of Reading provides a framework for effective reading assessment, instruction and/or intervention, helping us to see why a child is struggling with reading.

Research-Based Reading Interventions: Not All Programs Are Created Equal

 As David Kilpatrick points out, scientific research on reading has established evidence for effective instructional principles and approaches, but not much regarding “research-based programs.” After all, there is no Consumer Reports-style resource available and resources such as bestevidence.org often have major problems regarding the size of their studies.

David Kilpatrick outlines metrics for determining educational effectiveness for research-based reading interventions, including:

  • Raw score improvements
  • Statistical significance (many abstracts can be misleading in this regard)
  • Effect sizes (can be an “unsuspectingly misleading index of improvement”)
  • Standard score gains (the only metric which indicates if a student is closing the gap)

Research-Based Reading Interventions: The Strongest Intervention Results

 “Intervention studies consistent with the orthographic learning literature provide the strongest intervention results,” says David Kilpatrick.

Throughout this webinar, David Kilpatrick reminds us that:

  • English is an alphabetic writing system, and that alphabetic writing systems use phoneme-based characters;
  • Those with poor access to oral phonemes struggle in reading;
  • Instructional approaches that focus on the phonemic code of written English produce much better results than approaches relying on visual memorization, contextual guessing, or repetitious exposure;
  • Most reading difficulties can be prevented via Tier 1 instruction;
  • Struggling readers can read much better than they currently do if they are provided with effective intervention and develop letter sound proficiency and phonemic proficiency.

Be sure to watch CORE’s full webinar, which continues to break down research-based reading interventions and explores methods for effective reading assessment in a way that is informative, engaging, and actionable.

Video Transcript

Dr. Kilpatrick: So I know we’ve been a quick bus tour through all this, but here’s our summary. Assessment can flow directly from understanding how reading works and that’s what we want to do. And the Simple View provides us with a great framework. You saw all those arrows that I… The more complex version of it. You can really get down to exactly why a child is struggling, and it’s rarely one of those elements. It’s usually a few of them. And scientific research has shown that there are certain principles and approaches that are very well established, but very few studies are really looking at specific programs. Okay. A lot of popular programs call themselves research-based, even though their findings are inconsistent with the scientific research, but everybody calls himself research-based.

Dr. Kilpatrick: And intervention studies, this is kind of the point of this whole thing, that are consistent with orthographic learning literature have the strongest intervention results, and I think that’s pretty exciting. English is, this is a review of both sessions, really. English is an alphabetic writing system. Alphabetic writing systems are based on phoneme characters. So if you struggle in accessing oral phonemes, you’re going to have a struggle with any alphabetic writing system, and instructional programs that focus on the phonemic code produce better results than visual memorization, contextual guessing, and just simple repetition. And we have a lot of studies to show that. And we can prevent most reading difficulties with whole class instruction, and we can address the reading difficulties for most kids that struggle in reading. So there we go. I’m a minute shy of taking up the entire time.