The Impact of Differentiated Silent Reading Instruction Targeting Comprehension and Efficiency in Grades 4 and 5

Instruction | Upper Elementary School 

Summary of Findings:

This randomized control trial examined the impact of Reading Plus instruction targeting both reading comprehension and efficiency in students with differing levels of reading efficiency.

Results showed that students who began with low efficiency increased their reading rates the most. In addition, the low-efficiency treatment group achieved significantly larger gains in reading efficiency (p=.013) as compared to their peers in the control group who engaged in business-as-usual instruction. Students who began with high efficiency increased their comprehension scores the most. Further, the high-efficiency treatment group achieved significantly larger gains in reading comprehension (p=.017) as compared to their peers in the control group.

The larger reading efficiency gains seen in the low-efficiency treatment group suggest that scaffolded silent reading instruction was beneficial to students who were still in the midst of developing the ability to decode words efficiently. Students within the high-efficiency groups were already able to read and comprehend grade-level texts at rates averaging 202 wpm. This rate implies relatively little effort was being spent on word-level decoding, which likely accounts for the larger comprehension level gains achieved by the students in the high-efficiency treatment group.

“From a developmental perspective, this study highlights the importance of developing reading efficiency as students transition from 'learning to read' to 'reading to learn.'"

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Study Profile

Type of Study: Experimental Study

Participants: N = 426

Measure: GRADE, Visagraph

Presentation: Twenty-Fifth Annual Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR) Meeting, Brighton, United Kingdom, 2018

Authors: Kristin M. Gehsmann, Alexandra N. Spichtig, Jeffrey P. Pascoe, and John D. Ferrara