But It's Never Too Late
With quality resources and support, even those who are not reading on grade level by third grade can catch up.
Instruction that is research-based and provided by expert classroom teachers and reading specialists can reduce students’ reading difficulties and sustain successful reading progress across the grades. Additionally, high-quality reading instruction can lead to equitable outcomes for historically underserved populations. Such instruction is differentiated, intensive, and individualized according to students’ reading strengths and needs.
High-quality instruction includes teachers’ formative assessments that guide appropriate instructional adjustments. Word learning, vocabulary development, text comprehension, speaking, listening, and writing skills and strategies should be taught in meaningful contexts and applied to authentic reading and writing activities. A rush to teach skills in isolation can produce short-term success, but it does not benefit struggling readers over time. Instead, the goal is to teach students to be strategic in their use of skills to support their thoughtful reading. Students experiencing reading difficulties require access to a wide variety of texts at different levels of difficulty, paired alongside guided instruction with precise feedback that enables their reading comprehension and learning.
Tiered reading instruction, such as the Response to Intervention (RTI) initiative that was introduced in the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), focuses on reducing the number of students experiencing reading difficulties. The goal is to provide strong core instruction with levels of increased individualized and intensive instruction, both within the classroom and in small group and one-to-one instructional settings. Instruction is designed to address and meet the individual needs of students. This works when there is a commitment to continuing intensive and expert instruction until progress is achieved, and it often accelerates students’ literacy development.