Prevention and Intervention
What is currently known about preventing reading difficulties? The committee members' expertise and judgment were central in selecting the material and practices presented in Part III. Converging evidence from experimental investigations, qualitative studies, correlational studies, and various quasi-experimental designs, presented here and in other parts of the report, led us to focus on particular practices and programs.
In addition, a number of challenges are inherent in examining prevention efforts:
· The heterogeneity of children and the vagueness and inconsistency of the definitions used to characterize the reading problems of children;
· the complexities of providing rich descriptions of the interventions (within the space constraints of journal articles), especially given the trend toward multifaceted multicomponent interventions;
· inconsistencies across studies with regard to the measures that are employed, rendering comparisons risky;
· the constrained nature of the measures selected that impede the ability to determine more fully the impact of interventions;
· the intervals between the administration of measures that preclude the study of rate and degree of change over time;
· how little we learn about concurrent instruction, despite the fact that many interventions are supplementary in nature; and
· the difficulties inherent in characterizing and examining the effects of nonintervention factors that can influence reading growth, including social, cultural, ethnic, environmental, and ecological factors such as socioeconomic status, parent education, dialect, and first language.
Despite these limitations, important findings can be culled from the intervention literature, especially if we examine how the patterns emerging across these studies can contribute to understanding.
In Chapter 5, we present information on prevention efforts for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to ensure that children arrive at school with the necessary skills and developmental attainments that will enhance their preparedness for, and receptiveness to, early reading instruction. Excellent reading instruction in the early grades is a major prevention strategy. We therefore examine the major literacy goals for kindergarten and each of the primary grades in Chapter 6.
In some situations, organizational change is needed in a school so that effective reading instruction can take place. In Chapter 7, we address interventions targeted to changes in classrooms and entire schoolsfor example, reduction in class size or school restructuringand other initiatives such as the hiring of bilingual teachers in order to be responsive to children whose home language is not English.
There are some children for whom good instructional practices and preschool experiences are not enough; children who require extra instructional time because of persistent reading difficulties are discussed in Chapter 8.