The Effectiveness of a Color-Coded, Onset-Rime Reading Intervention With First Grade Students At Serious Risk For Reading Disabilities
Hines, Sara Jane
Speece, Deborah L.
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Beginning readers who are weak decoders usually continue to fall behind in reading as they progress through school, negatively affecting their overall academic performance, self-esteem, and motivation. Therefore, it is imperative to develop instructional practices to assist the acquisition of effective decoding skills. Although existing remedial approaches have proven effective with a number of students with reading problems, they have not been successful with those students most at risk and have generally not resulted in transfer of skills to decoding novel words not targeted in instruction. I used a single-subject multiple probe design across participants to investigate the effectiveness of a color-coded, onset-rime based decoding intervention. The participants were first grade students determined to be at serious risk for reading disabilities based on their performance on screening measures. All four of the students made strong progress in learning the instructional words, increasing on average 73% over baseline (range 66%-78%). In addition, for novel words from instructed rime patterns, students increased their scores from baseline to post-intervention by an average of 56% (range 50% to 62%). There was limited transfer at the vowel level to uninstructed rime patterns, with students improving their scores by an average of 29% (range 17% to 50%). All students maintained their improvement in decoding skills for both instructional and transfer words at one week and one month maintenance. The fact that the children were able not only to master instructional words but also to use their knowledge of rime patterns to decode uninstructed words is important given the difficulty of students most at-risk for reading disabilities to master instructional words and transfer decoding gains. Furthermore, the three participants with the lowest performance prior to instruction showed strong improvement on a standardized measure of reading achievement (Woodcock-Johnson Reading Mastery Test-Revised, Normative Update). The effectiveness of the program in improving the decoding skills of readers who are significantly at-risk is a promising first step in finding an instructional approach that is successful with students who have been left behind not just by traditional classroom instruction but by remedial approaches as well.