A Randomised control trial of a MultiLit small group intervention for older low-progress readers

Jennifer Buckingham, Robyn Beaman, Kevin Wheldall

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    A large number of Australian children in the later years of primary school have low literacy skills and require remedial instruction. The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of a comprehensive small group reading intervention for low-progress readers, within a regular school setting. The intervention, called 'Making Up Lost Time in Literacy', is a comprehensive reading program with explicit teaching in phonics as well as sight words and guided book reading. Participants were Year 3 (average age 8 years, 8 months) to Year 6 (average age 11 years, 8 months) students in a New South Wales public school. Forty-four students took part in a two-school-term trial, with matched pairs of students randomly allocated into experimental and control groups. A reduced sample of 30 students participated in a three-school-term trial. The experimental group received the small group instruction for 1 h per day for four days per week, while the control group remained in the usual classes. All students were assessed on measures of reading and related skills before the intervention began, after two terms of instruction and, for the reduced sample, after three terms of instruction. Very large and statistically significant mean differences favouring the experimental group were found for the phonological recoding measure. Four other measures had no statistically significant differences between groups but had treatment effect sizes ranging from small to large. The results suggest that the program was highly effective in teaching phonic word attack skills, but older low-progress readers may require more intensive intervention to advance their general reading ability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-26
    Number of pages26
    JournalEffective education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • literacy
    • response to intervention
    • Tier 2
    • struggling readers
    • effective instruction


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