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Developing a universal reading comprehension intervention for mainstream primary schools within areas of social deprivation for children with and without language-learning impairment : a feasibility study

McCartney, Elspeth and Boyle, James and Ellis, Sue (2015) Developing a universal reading comprehension intervention for mainstream primary schools within areas of social deprivation for children with and without language-learning impairment : a feasibility study. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 50 (1). pp. 129-135. ISSN 1368-2822

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Abstract

Background Some children in areas of social deprivation in Scotland have lower reading attainment than neighbouring children in less deprived areas, and some of these also have lower spoken language comprehension skills than expected by assessment norms. There is a need to develop effective reading comprehension interventions that fit easily into the school curriculum and can benefit all pupils. A feasibility study of reading comprehension strategies with existing evidence of efficacy was undertaken in three mainstream primary schools within an area of social deprivation in west central Scotland, to decide whether further investigation of this intervention was warranted. Aims Aims were to measure comprehension of spoken language and reading via standardised assessments towards the beginning of the school year (T1) in mainstream primary school classrooms within an area of social deprivation; to have teachers introduce previously-validated text comprehension strategies, and to measure change in reading comprehension outcome measures towards the end of the year (T2). Methods & Procedures A pre- and post-intervention cohort design was used. Reading comprehension strategies were introduced to staff in participating schools and used throughout the school year as part of on-going reading instruction. Spoken language comprehension was measured by TROG-2 at T1, and reading progress by score changes from T1 to T2 on the WIAT-IIUK-T reading comprehension scale. Outcomes & Results Forty-seven pupils in five classes in three primary schools took part: 38% had TROG-2 scores below the 10th centile. As a group, children made good reading comprehension progress, with a medium effect size of 0.46. Children with TROG-2 scores below the 10th centile had lower mean reading scores than others at T1 and T2, although with considerable overlap. However, TROG-2 did not make a unique contribution to reading progress: children below the 10th centile made as much progress as other children. The intervention was welcomed by schools, and the measure of reading comprehension proved responsive to change. Conclusions The outcomes suggest the reading intervention may be effective for children with and without spoken language comprehension difficulties, and warrants further investigation in larger, controlled, studies.