Effects of an intensive reading intervention on reading outcomes for adolescent English learners with disabilities and comprehension deficits
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English Learners with disabilities (ELSWDs) in both eighth and twelfth grades scored significantly lower on the 2015 NAEP reading assessment than English Learners (ELs) only or students with disabilities (SWDs) only. Despite this, there is limited evidence on how to improve reading outcomes through reading interventions for adolescent ELSWDs. The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to examine the effects of an intensive, year-long reading intervention, the Reading Intervention for Adolescents (RIA), on reading outcomes (word reading, vocabulary, and comprehension) for ninth grade ELSWDs (n = 95) with deficits in reading comprehension and to determine if the effects of the intervention varied by limited English proficiency (LEP) status (current versus former). Participants assigned to RIA received the intervention for the entire ninth-grade school year, while students in the comparison condition participated in electives such as band, chorus, or computer. Phase I of the intervention focused on advanced word study, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, while Phase II of the intervention emphasized vocabulary and comprehension, as well as the application of the strategies learned in Phase I with science and social studies texts. Participants were assessed at pre- and post-intervention on measures of real and pseudoword reading, comprehension, and vocabulary. After using analysis of covariance to test for treatment effects and controlling for false discovery rate, there were no significant differences between the RIA treatment and the comparison groups. Small effects were observed on measures of word reading, comprehension, and proximal vocabulary, and Hedge’s g values ranted from 0.08 to 0.40. There were also not significant differential effects of the intervention for students currently identified as LEP versus students formerly identified as LEP. Findings from this study confirm previous research with ELSWDs, in that it is difficult to improve vocabulary and comprehension for this population of students.