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Queen's University
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Evaluating Response to Reading Remediation

John KirbyDr. John Kirby and Mr. Mark Uyar (Honours student in Psychology) have evaluated the effectiveness of the reading remediation program offered at the Reading Clinic and explored the student characteristics that predict success in the program.

The Reading Clinic offers intensive, direct, systematic, scaffolded instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, syllabification, morphology, spelling, fluency and metacognition using extended practice and multisensory teaching strategies delivered by instructors trained in multisensory structured language instruction.

The 50 children involved in the present study ranged in age from 6 to 12.

It was found that the children in the program improved in a range of reading skills approximately three times as fast as they had been improving prior to participating at the clinic, and approximately twice as fast as normally-achieving children would in the same period of time.

Kirby and Uyar also found that two characteristics predicted improvement in the program. Phonological Memory (being able to remember words or other auditory stimuli) was a strong predictor of all reading skills, and Naming Speed (the speed with which children can name sets of well-known stimuli, such as digits, letters or objects) was a significant predictor of several reading skills. A further important finding was that Phonological Awareness (sensitivity to the sounds within words and being able to manipulate them) did not predict success – this suggests that the Reading Clinic’s program had improved children’s Phonological Awareness so that it was no longer a problem for them.

These results are promising. They indicate that the program offered at the Reading Clinic is effective in helping children who are struggling to learn to read, and they point to two areas (memory and naming speed) that also need to be addressed.