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Learning Disabilities Research Program

Effective intervention

Remediation that works: What are the key features?

The literacy skills of children, adolescents, and adults will continue to develop with effective instruction, well-designed practice, and the motivation to continue working toward improved reading skills. In our research, we have found that effective programming includes the following design features:

  • Addresses the core learning problems directly. Provides intensive remediation of basic speech/language/phonological deficits.
  • Provides direct instruction of basic literacy skills, including decoding and spelling, vocabulary and text comprehension, with opportunities for cumulative review and repeated practice.
  • Combines direct skills instruction and cognitive strategy instruction.
  • Explicitly teaches children and adolescents to transfer and apply new knowledge and skills to new materials.
  • Teaches the strategies used by skilled readers to attack unknown words:
    • Comparing to known words
    • Trying different vowel pronunciations
    • Peeling off prefixes and suffixes
    • Underlining parts you know
    • Seeing what makes sense in a sentence
  • Teaches learners to be flexible: Try different strategies and evaluate how well they work.
  • Has the readers acknowledge their own efforts and successes, and articulate how successes were achieved.
  • Works on learning to read and spell, use and understand the same sets of words.
  • Uses an explicit approach to vocabulary and reading comprehension instruction.
  • Uses stories and materials that are interesting and allow for successful reading by struggling readers (e.g., high interest/low vocabulary materials). Allow choice in reading materials.  Read for fun, and entertainment.
  • Builds reading comprehension skills by teaching the strategies used by good comprehenders.
  • Teaches a strategy only after teaching first the preskills and knowledge needed to use the strategy effectively.
    • Read from a variety of texts, including stories as well as informational and persuasive texts.
    • Strategies include predicting, acquiring necessary vocabulary and background knowledge, and clarifying sources of uncertainty.
    • Higher-level strategies include asking good questions, making inferences, and summarizing texts.
  • Have the children write every day. Write reactions to stories read. Value the expression of individual opinions.  Teach editing and revision as part of writing.