Effectiveness of reading intervention in junior school

Angela J. Fawcett*, Roderick I. Nicolson, Helen Moss, Margaret K. Nicolson, Rea Reason

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to evaluate an intervention strategy for children at risk of reading failure in their third year at school. Classes in five UK junior schools were screened to identify children most at risk of reading failure (36 in total, mean initial age 7.6 years). Comparison children, matched overall for age and reading performance, were selected from comparable schools. The selected children were given an individually adaptive, curriculum-based, support programme with the emphasis on word building and phonics skills in the broad reading context. The programme was given to children in pairs for two half-hour sessions per week for 10 weeks. The intervention group made significantly more progress than the comparison group as measured by mean reading standard scores, with an overall 'effect size' of 0.67. A 6-month follow-up indicated that the overall effect size of improvement reduced to 0.55. The intervention proved cost-effective, with comparable improvements to those of Reading Recovery at around 20% of the cost. The results suggest that while cost-effective improvements in reading can be achieved at junior school, a significant proportion of junior children will fail to benefit from a relatively short intervention of this type. There is therefore a need for continuing support. These results highlight the importance and cost-effectiveness of early intervention in a child's initial school years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-312
Number of pages14
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2001


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