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A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT: STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES

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The goal of this paper was to identify the most effective instructional strategies for reading fluency development through a synthesis of eight relevant meta-analyses. In the first part, reading fluency instructional strategies are presented. In the second part, the major findings of the eight meta-analyses are recorded in chronological order. In the last part, meta-analyses findings are pooled together and discussed. The processing of the eight meta-analyses data follows and uses the "LD Alerts" format, concluding to "Promising" and "Carefully Used" instructional strategies. Through this synthesis, the role of repeated readings appears to be prominent in reading fluency instruction. In specific, repeated readings are more effective when they are used in combination with the strategies of self-monitoring, goal-setting and model reading. In addition, provision of preview and cue seems to have a decisive role in fluency instruction. Nevertheless, other strategies and intervention components appear to hold controversial or limited evidence.
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European Journal of Special Education Research
ISSN: 2501 - 2428
ISSN-L: 2501 - 2428
Available on-line at: www.oapub.org/edu
Copyright © The Author(s). All Rights Reserved.
© 2015 2017 Open Access Publishing Group 232
doi: 10.5281/zenodo.1477124
Volume 3 Issue 4 2018
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH
ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
Susana Padeliadu,
Sophia Giazitzidou
i
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,
Greece
Abstract:
The goal of this paper was to identify the most effective instructional strategies for
reading fluency development through a synthesis of eight relevant meta-analyses. In
the first part, reading fluency instructional strategies are presented. In the second part,
the major findings of the eight meta-analyses are recorded in chronological order. In the
last part, meta-analyses findings are pooled together and discussed. The processing of
the eight meta-analyses data follows and uses the “LD Alerts” format, concluding to
“Promising” and “Carefully Used” instructional strategies. Through this synthesis, the
role of repeated readings appears to be prominent in reading fluency instruction. In
specific, repeated readings are more effective when they are used in combination with
the strategies of self-monitoring, goal-setting and model reading. In addition, provision
of preview and cue seems to have a decisive role in fluency instruction. Nevertheless,
other strategies and intervention components appear to hold controversial or limited
evidence.
Keywords: reading fluency, synthesis, teaching strategies, repeated readings
1. Introduction
Oral reading fluency is defined as the ability to read with speed, accuracy and prosody,
automatically, with low level of attention on basic reading skills (NICHD, 2000;
Schreiber, 1991; Therrien, 2004). According to National Reading Panel (2000), reading
fluency, phonological awareness, phonics, reading comprehension and vocabulary
constitute the five suggested fields for reading instruction and evaluation. The concept
of reading fluency includes the coordination of multiple reading elements and
procedures in order for every aspect of oral reading fluency to be supported (Breznitz,
2006). Consequently, automatization seems to be a prerequisite for reading fluency,
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 233
since it permits the visual and auditory processes to be conducted automatically and
rapidly, releasing cognitive resources for reading comprehension (Katzir et al., 2006).
The role of reading fluency differs in orthographies with different level of
orthographic consistency (Katzir, Schiff, & Kim, 2012). Specifically, the level of
phonological regularity influences significantly the first stages of reading development
(Wimmer & Schurz, 2010). Students in “shallow” orthographies have got an important
advantage in succeeding in decoding processes, compared to their peers in “deep”
orthographies, such as the English one (Seymour, Aro, & Erskine, 2003). Therefore, in
these languages reading difficulties are manifested mostly in reading speed rather than
in decoding (Wimmer, 1993).
The substantial number of reviews and meta-analyses that have been conducted
on reading fluency and especially on effective instructional strategies reveals the strong
research interest in this field (Chard, Vaughn, & Tyler, 2008 Galuschka, Ise, Krick, &
Schulte-Korne, 2014; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; Meyer & Felton, 1999; Morgan & Sideridis,
2006; Morgan, Sideridis, & Hua, 2012; NICHD, 2000; Suggate, 2014; Therrien, 2004). The
strong interest in reading fluency is likely to be attributed to its strong relationship with
reading comprehension (Breznitz, 2006; Kim, Park, & Wagner, 2014), since the two
functions are highly correlated to each other throughout the school years (Hudson,
Torgesen, Lane, & Turner, 2012; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003).
Reading fluency instruction does not constitute a separate and independent
reading program, but it is included mostly as a component in reading comprehension
programs (Hudson, Lane, & Pullen, 2005). In this context, National Reading Panel
(2000) points out that despite its importance as a component of skilled reading, fluency is
often neglected in the classroom (p. 189). At the same time, reading fluency appears to
show the least progress, compared to other reading skills (Torgesen & Hudson, 2006).
Consequently, systematic, direct and explicit instruction of reading fluency is
considered imperative, since many students and mostly those with reading difficulties
face problems in reading speed and prosody, despite their adequate decoding skills
(McGuinness, 2004).
2. Reading Fluency Teaching Methods and Strategies
Over the last fifty years, various methods and strategies have been developed for
reading fluency instruction. Repeated reading is the most commonly used method for
reading fluency instruction, with several instructional strategies grounded on it
(Hudson, Lane, & Pullen, 2005). These strategies are different from each other,
depending on the level of support and guidance provided to reader during the reading
program (Hudson et al., 2005). These strategies can be classified into several categories,
based on specific criteria (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; Pullen & Wills Lloyd, 2008). According to
Rasinksi (2010), strategies for reading fluency instruction can be classified into three
major categories: (a) the assisted reading strategies, (b) the repeated reading strategies,
and (c) the performance reading. A disadvantage of this categorization is that many
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 234
instructional strategies can be classified into more than one category, causing
overlapping and confusion. According to our opinion, more detailed categories could
serve better for fitting each repeated reading strategy. In this paper, repeated reading
strategies are classified into five categories, which are characterized by specific features.
The categorization criteria are: (a) the different level of guidance, (b) the provision of
cues before the beginning of the reading process, (c) the different level of previewing
and (d) the performance reading. Based on the aforementioned criteria, almost every
repeated reading strategy can be classified into one of the five following categories:
Repeated reading without any feedback and support,
Assisted repeated reading, including reading-while-listening,
Repeated reading with cue provision, including goal-setting plus self-
monitoring,
Repeated reading with preview, and
Performance reading.
A sixth category is emerged in order to fit the strategies that can be classified in
more than one category, the overlapping strategies. In Table 1, the repeated reading
strategies are presented, classified into the six proposed categories. In categories of
assisted and performance reading, the repeated reading method is applied with the
proposed instructional strategy simultaneously. In categories of cue and preview
provision, the repeated reading method is applied at different times and order. Cues or
previews are provided firstly, followed by the repeated readings of the text. Exception
constitutes the self-monitoring strategy, which is applied at the end of every reading. In
sixth category, strategies that can be classified into more than one category are
included. These strategies can function at different levels each time, depending on the
teaching goal. Specifically, pre-teaching of text key-words or difficult words can be
classified either as an assisted reading strategy, since it promotes students’ decoding
skills or as a preview strategy. Similarly, model reading can be considered as an
assisted reading strategy, which provides directly to the reader the prosodic cues of the
text or as a preview strategy.
Table 1: The most frequent repeated reading strategies per category
Repeated
Reading
Repeated reading
with cue provision
Repeated
reading with
preview
Performance
reading
Over-lapping
Repeated
readings
Speed goal
Listening the
text reading
Readers
theater
Model
reading
Comprehension
goal
Discussion
about the
subject of the
text
“Say it like a
character”
Pre-teaching
of text key-
words or
difficult
words
Self-monitoring
Discussing
about the text
illustration
Radio
reading
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 235
Self-monitoring plus
reinforcement
Discussion
about the text
title
Poetry
performance
Pre-teaching of
text key-words
or difficult
words
Song lyrics
performance
Model reading
2.1 Repeated Reading without any Feedback and Support
In 1979, based on the theory of automaticity, Samuels introduced the method of
repeated readings. According to the repeated reading method, the student reads a text
or a part of it either for a predetermined length of time or for as many times as to
“reach” a predetermined performance criterion on reading speed and accuracy
(Samuels, 1979). The first citation of the repeated reading method is dated back in 1908
by Huey in his book “The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading”. According to Huey
(1908), reading repetition releases conscious attention gradually from the details,
facilitates general reading skill and decreases reading time. The implementation of the
repeated reading method has been found to cultivate and develop every aspect of
reading fluency: decoding accuracy, reading speed and prosody and on a lower,
nevertheless remarkable level, reading comprehension (Dowhower, 1989). Furthermore,
the method of repeated readings has reported to have a positive impact both on
students with and without reading difficulties and mostly on students who are into the
transitional level of their reading development (Meyer & Felton, 1999).
2.2 Assisted Repeated Reading
The provision of guidance, supervision and feedback during the reading process
constitutes the basic teaching principle in assisted repeated reading strategies. Students
read a text either one after the other or in paired groups or even in small groups under
the guidance of a teacher or of an experienced peer reader. The person supporting the
poor reader undertakes the role of providing guidance and feedback both for reading
accuracy and expression. Feedback can be provided either immediately, when the
student makes the mistake or at the end of the reading process. Relevant studies
investigating the effectiveness of assisted repeated reading strategies have documented
a positive effect on every aspect of reading fluency (Schreiber, 1991). Assisted repeated
reading strategies may take several forms, such as the paired reading, the echo or the
choral reading and the neurological impress reading. The reading-while-listening
strategy is also included in this category. In this strategy, readers have the choice either
to listen to the text model reading during their reading or listen to the text model
reading by a teacher, by an experienced peer reader or even by a recorded material
before the beginning of the reading process (Rasinski, 2010). The strategy of reading-
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 236
while-listening provides direct access to the text model reading and its prosodic cues,
enhancing significantly reading expression (Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015; Morgan &
Sideridis, 2006; NICHD, 2000; Yang, 2006).
2.3 Repeated Readings with Cue Provision
Any type of goal-setting before the beginning of the reading process is considered as a
cue. Based on this assumption, reading with cue provision can be applied in several
ways, depending on the teaching goal. One major cue is the determination of a specific
reading purpose, i.e. asking the students to read the text as fast as they can or to read
the text in order to comprehend it or both of them. Goal-setting with self-monitoring
can be considered as a cue provision strategy, as well. In the self-monitoring condition,
the reader in collaboration with the teacher sets a specific reading performance goal,
regarding the number of words and in the time that text have to be read. After each
reading repetition, reading accuracy and speed are recorded on a graph by the student.
The fact that students record their reading performance on a graph provides them with
continuous evaluation of their reading progress, cultivating not only their self-
regulation, but also their self-management skills, contributing eventually to their
reading fluency development (Morgan & Sideridis, 2006). In some interventions,
implementation of the self-monitoring strategy is combined with reinforcement, which
means that when students achieve or overcome the predetermined reading goals, a
symbolic gift is provided to them as an award (Morgan et al., 2012).
2.4 Repeated Readings with Preview
Repeated reading with preview includes several strategies, which improve reading
fluency and comprehension to a large extent (Faulkner & Levy, 1999). The goals of
previewing is: (a) deep comprehension of the text content, (b) construction of semantic
expectations about it, (c) active students’ involvement, (d) retention of linguistic
information, and (e) activation of students’ prior knowledge (Chard et al., 2002). Text
previewing can be achieved by discussing about the text content or illustration, by
listening to the text model reading or even by sight-word reading strategies. Pre-
teaching of text key-words or difficult words separately, before reading them in the text,
constitute a common sight-word reading strategy, which can be considered as a
preview. Firstly, the teacher asks the student to read the text independently, without
providing any kind of support. During the student’s reading, the teacher records the
misreadings. After that, the teacher asks the student to read aloud these particular
words separately (Morgan & Sideridis, 2006). The instructional strategies often used in
developing sight-word reading are: (a) flash-cards, (b) word lists, and (c) specially
designed presentations in Power Point (Padeliadu & Botsas, 2007).
2.5 Performance Reading
Performance reading sets reading instruction in a real context by incorporating a
realistic reading goal and activating readers’ involvement and motivation (Rasinksi,
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 237
2010). The reader theater, the radio reading, the poetry performance and the song lyrics
performance are some strategies of performance reading. During their implementation,
the reader is asked to give a performance by reading a script or a scene, undertaking the
role of an actor or of a professional radio speaker. Successful application of the
performance reading strategies requires both repeated readings in order for students to
be prepared to give their reading performance and also text comprehension in order to
read the text expressively (Rasinski, 2010).
3. Purpose of the Study
There is strong research data supporting the effectiveness of the repeated reading
method in reading fluency development (NICHD, 2000). However, the studies that
used some type of repeated reading method were very diverse, in terms of measured
variables and implementation characteristics, making conclusion about the effectiveness
that each of them has very difficult. Firstly, these studies were conducted with different
groups. Some of them were conducted with typical readers, while others with students
with reading difficulties. Moreover, group ages ranged from lower elementary grades
to upper secondary grades. In addition, interventions were applied in different class
contexts and with different experimental designs. Some of them were conducted in
special educational settings, while others in general classrooms. Some of them had a
single-subject design, while others had control groups and between-subject designs.
Finally, each reading fluency intervention used a unique combination of repeated
reading strategies, without being clear which strategy of them was most effective in
reading fluency development and most appropriate for each student group.
In this paper, we intended to identify the most effective strategies and
intervention components for reading fluency instruction through the study of eight
relevant meta-analyses available in the literature. Specifically, we borrowed and used
the format of the “Teaching Learning Disabilities Alerts” published by the “Council for
Exceptional Children”. Based on the “LD Alerts” frame, we evaluated the data of eight
meta-analyses in order to identify: (a) the “Promising” strategies and intervention
components that are based on well-established evidence and they should be used in
reading fluency instruction and (b) the “Carefully Used” strategies and intervention
components that rely on controversial or limited evidence and they should be used with
caution.
4. Record of Eight Meta-analyses
For this meta-analyses review, a comprehensive search of literature was conducted by
the second author. The search for the relevant meta-analyses covered ERIC, PsycINFO,
ProQuest and Google Scholar research bases, using the following key-words: review,
meta-analysis, summary, synthesis, reading fluency, repeated readings, reading rate, reading
speed, oral reading, reading difficulties, dyslexia, learning disabilities, struggle readers, reading
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 238
disabilities, at-risk readers. In addition to the computer searches, a search in data base of
several major journals was conducted, separately. The journals that were searched
were: Annals of Dyslexia, Education and Treatment of Children, Journal of Applied Behavior
Analysis, Journal of Behavioral Education, Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of
Experimental Psychology, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Journal of Reading Behavior, Journal
of Special Education, Learning Disabilities Research, Learning Disability Quarterly, Plos,
Intervention in School and Clinic, Reading Research Quarterly, Remedial and Special
Education, Remedial and Special Education and School Psychology Review.
The literature search resulted in eight meta-analyses (Galuschka et al., 2014; Lee
& Yoon Yoon, 2015; Morgan & Sideridis, 2006; Morgan et al., 2012; NICHD, 2000;
Suggate, 2014; Therrien, 2004; Yang, 2006). Six out of eight meta-analyses were
published in peer-reviewed journals from 2004 to 2015 (Galuschka et al., 2014; Lee &
Yoon Yoon, 2015; Morgan & Sideridis, 2006; Morgan et al., 2012; Suggate, 2014;
Therrien, 2004). One meta-analysis was conducted in the context of a doctoral
dissertation, published in 2006 (Yang, 2006) and one was conducted on behalf of the
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 2000.The studies
included in the eight meta-analyses were published from 1966 to 2013 and they were
characterized by heterogeneity regarding their methodology, experimental design,
research questions, participants’ age and cognitive characteristics, type and duration of
the intervention programs, instructional strategies, criteria used for including a research
in their meta-analysis and definition criteria for reading difficulties and disabilities.
The meta-analyses review revealed that research interest focused mostly on
strategies and intervention components that make reading fluency instruction more
effective. Furthermore, interest focused mostly on the reading fluency instruction for
students with reading difficulties. Specifically, five out of eight meta-analyses posed
research questions such as: (a) which are the specific intervention features that have
high effect sizes on reading fluency instruction and (b) which are the specific
intervention features that are appropriate for reading fluency instruction for students
with reading difficulties. Also, two out of eight meta-analyses set research questions
such as: (a) what is the effect of the repeated readings on reading fluency, (b) what is
the effect of the repeated readings on reading fluency in students with reading
difficulties, (c) what is the long-term effect of reading fluency interventions, and (d)
which is the influence of gender, grade, type of schooling and participants’ cognitive
characteristic on reading fluency instruction.
The eight meta-analyses are organized and reviewed chronologically (Table 2). In
the context of each meta-analysis, we present the research goal and questions, the
number of studies included in each of them, the research methodology, the participants’
characteristics and grades as well as its findings.
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 239
Table 2: The eight reading fluency meta-analyses
Authors
Title
Year of
publication
Number of
examined
studies
Reference
group
National Institute
of Child Health
and Human
Development
Teaching children to read: An
evidence-based assessment of the
scientific research literature on
reading and its implications for
reading instruction (NIH
Publication No. 00-4769)
2000
14
K-12th Grade
students with
and without
reading
problems
Therrien, W.
Fluency and comprehension
gains as result of repeated
reading: A meta-analysis.
2004
18
5-12 years
students with
and without
learning
disabilities
Morgan, P., &
Sideridis, G.
Contrasting the effectiveness of
fluency interventions for students
with or at risk for learning
disabilities: A multilevel random
coefficient modeling meta-
analysis
2006
30
K-12th Grade
students with
or at risk for
learning
disabilities
Yang, J.
A meta-analysis of the effects of
interventions to increase reading
fluency among elementary school
students
2006
39
K-6th Grade
students with
and without
disabilities
Morgan, P.,
Sideridis, G., &
Hua, Y.
Initial and over-time effects of
fluency interventions for students
with or at risk for disabilities
2012
44
K-12th Grade
students with
and without
disabilities
Galuschka, K., Ise,
E., Krick, K., &
Schulte-Körne, G.
Effectiveness of treatment
approaches for children and
adolescents with reading
disabilities: A meta-analysis of
randomized controlled trials
2014
5 reading
fluency
studies out of
22 reading
studies
Children and
adolescents
students with
reading
difficulties
Suggate, S.
A meta-analysis of the long-term
effects of phonemic awareness,
phonics, fluency, and reading
comprehension interventions
2014
12 reading
fluency
studies out of
71 reading
studies
Pre- 6,5 Grade
students with
and without
learning
disabilities
Lee, J., & Yoon
Yoon, S.
The effects of repeated reading
on reading fluency for students
with reading disabilities: A meta-
analysis
2015
34
K-12th Grade
students with
reading
difficulties
The National Reading Panel (2000) conducted a study in order to identify the most
effective instructional methods for reading fluency instruction. The initial goal was to
compare the effectiveness of two widely used instructional methods: the method of oral
repeated readings or guided repeated readings with the method of independent or
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 240
silent reading. However, due to the methodological difficulties only the data of the
repeated reading studies was examined. In the final analysis, the results of 14 studies
were used to address the Panel’s question. The studies were published from 1970 to
1999 and they were heterogeneous in terms of duration, participants’ characteristics and
grades, research methodology and experimental design. The studies included both
students with and without reading problems from kindergarten through 12th grade. In
meta-analysis both single-subject and between-subject design studies were examined.
Overall, the results showed that repeated readings had a consistent and positive effect
on word recognition, reading fluency and comprehension, as measured by a variety of
test instruments. The effect size on word recognition corresponded to 0.55, on reading
fluency to 0.44 and on reading comprehension to 0.35, respectively. Furthermore,
repeated readings had clear effect on reading ability of non-impaired readers through at
least grade four as well as on students with reading problems throughout high school.
Also, repeated readings in combination with feedback and guidance provision resulted
in greater improvement in reading in students with and without reading difficulties.
Finally, it was found that the repeated reading method was effective under a wide
variety of conditions and with minimal special training.
Therrien (2004) published another meta-analysis, analyzing data from 18
repeated reading intervention studies. The goal was to examine the level of
effectiveness that: (a) the repeated reading method has in reading fluency development,
(b) the additional components within repeated reading interventions have in reading
fluency development, and (c) the repeated reading method has in reading fluency
development in students with learning disabilities, separately. The examined studies,
published from 1985 to 2000, were experimental and used school-age participants (5-12
years old) with and without learning disabilities. The effect sizes were calculated
separately for familiar and unfamiliar texts. Specifically, a total number of 28
nontransfer effect sizes were calculated. Across all nontransfer measures, the mean
fluency effect size was .83. Particularly, for familiar texts students that cued to focus on
speed, on comprehension and on both speed and comprehension recorded a fluency
effect size of .72, .81 and .94, respectively. Regarding corrective feedback provision,
students who received corrective feedback reported a mean fluency effect size of .68,
compared to those who didn’t receive it, who reported .88. Regarding performance
criteria, interventions that used performance criteria obtained a mean effect size of .81,
compared to those that used fixed number of repetition, which reported different effect
sizes (two times ES=.57, three times ES=.85 and four times ES=.95).
Regarding the results referred to unfamiliar texts, which examined the level of
generalization of obtained reading fluency to new, unfamiliar texts are presented
below. Generally, the mean effect size of reading fluency to new unfamiliar texts was
moderate (d=.50). Interventions that conducted by an adult obtained an effect size of
1.37, compared to .36 of studies that conducted with peers’ involvement. Interventions
that included model reading documented an effect size of .40, compared to those which
didn’t include it which had .30. Students who received corrective feedback recorded an
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 241
effect size of .51, while those who didn’t receive it .46. It is impressive that the
interventions, which provided corrective feedback only by adults, obtained a mean
effect size of 1.37. Furthermore, interventions that used a performance criterion
obtained a mean effect size of 1.70, compared to those that didn’t use it, which
documented a mean effect size of .38. Interventions included a charting card reported a
mean effect size of .57, compared to those that didn’t use it, which had .40. Respectively,
adult-implemented interventions with charting students’ progress reported a mean
effect size of 1.58. Finally, for familiar texts the effect size for students with learning
disabilities was .75 and for students without .85. Conversely, for unfamiliar texts, the
effect size for students with learning disabilities was .79 and for students without .59.
Overall, this meta-analysis indicated that the repeated reading method could be used
effectively with students with and without learning disabilities to cultivate reading
fluency both at particular passages and at new ones, developing their general reading
fluency ability. However, the level of reading fluency development varies as a function
of the different additional instructional components within repeated reading method
(Therrien, 2004).
Morgan and Sideridis (2006) conducted a meta-analysis of 30 single-subject
design studies. The goal was to compare the effectiveness of the different types of
fluency interventions in students with or at risk for learning disabilities. Specifically, the
research questions concerned: (a) the type of intervention that leads to the greatest gains
in oral reading fluency, (b) the mediating role of gender, grade and student’s school
placement in intervention effectiveness, and (c) the long-term effects that some
interventions may have on students’ fluency. Participants were attending kindergarten
through 12th grades either in general or in special educational settings. The studies,
published from 1977 to 2004 in refereed journals, reported results of 107 participants,
provided data for 144 experimental phases. The single-subject design studies had at
least two phases and included measurement over at least three time points. Using chi-
square difference tests, the researchers found that the most-to-least effective
interventions after controlling for baseline levels of fluency, gender and placement
were: a) the goal-setting with mean improvement of 94 correct words per minute
(cwpm), b) the goal-setting and reinforcement (M=89 cwpm), c) the reinforcement (M=
85 cwpm), d) the repeated readings with model reading and tutoring (M=79 cwpm), e)
the keywords pre-teaching and preview (M=71 cwpm) and f) the word recognition
training (M=49 cwpm). It should be mentioned that the goal setting and reinforcement
strategies involved repeated readings. The tests showed that these differences in gains
between the interventions were statistically significant. Overall, this meta-analysis
indicated that the most effective interventions were the repeated readings with
reinforcement, documenting high effect size on reading fluency of students with or at
risk for learning disabilities. The repeated readings with or without model reading, the
previewing of text content or text keywords and the guided or assisted reading
reported moderate to up to moderate effect size on students’ reading fluency. The
interventions that contained sightword reading teaching strategies recorded low effect
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 242
size. Moreover, it seemed that placement (general or special educational setting)
affected the interventions effectiveness. Students who were enrolled in general
educational settings indicated higher improvement in their reading fluency, reading on
average 12.7 cwpm more than students in special educational settings. One possible
interpretation of this result is that students who were enrolled in special schools and
settings were identified by severe reading difficulties, leading to lower level of
responsiveness to interventions, compared to students who were attending general
schools. Finally, regarding the lasting effects of interventions, goal-setting led to
significant growth over time, compared to the most commonly studied fluency
interventions, such as the repeated readings with model reading, which recorded
treatment effects below the goal-setting interventions (Morgan & Sideridis, 2006).
Yang (2006) in his dissertation conducted a meta-analysis of 39 experimental
studies in order to evaluate the effect sizes of repeated reading interventions on reading
fluency for students with and without disabilities and identify the factors that are
associated with or best predict the least or most effective interventions. Specifically, the
studies, published from 1966 to 2001, involved elementary-aged students (K-6th grade)
with and without disabilities. Only studies of between-subject designs, using control
groups were included in the meta-analysis. The examined studies were heterogeneous
in terms of school context (general/special educational settings), subjects, training
materials and intervention duration. According to results, the mean effect size of
reading speed was positive, ranging from small to moderate (M=.30). Regarding the
mean effect sizes by students’ group, interventions involving remedial readers
produced largest effect (.37) than those which involved readers with disabilities (.34) or
normal readers (.18). Furthermore, the mean effect size according to treatment type
ranged from small to medium. Specifically, the effect sizes of repeated readings or
guided oral reading of continuous texts and mixed texts and separate words
corresponded to .36 and .32, respectively. Interventions that included independed
reading or training at word level reported small effect sizes (ES= -.03 and ES= 0.21,
respectively). Interventions that contained repetitive practice produced moderate mean
effect size (.30), while those that didn’t use it reported the half effect size (.15) (Yang,
2006).
Regarding the type of reading material, interventions that used repetitive
practice of continuous texts recorded a mean effect size of .35, while those that used
repetitive practice of separate words reported smaller effect size. Data analysis
indicated that intervention duration plays important role in its effectiveness, as well.
Interventions that lasted from one to six weeks had effect size equivalent to .50, while
those that lasted longer had smaller effect on reading speed (7-20 weeks ES=.40, 21-36
weeks ES=.16). Furthermore, the more frequent the sessions were, the smaller the effects
were. Specifically, interventions that contained one to two sessions per week had a
mean effect size of .38, interventions that included three to four sessions per week had
an effect size of .29 and those that had daily sessions .24, respectively. Moreover, effect
sizes were different according to session length. Interventions that contained sessions
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lasting 15 to 30 minutes had an effect size equal to .33, sessions lasting 31 to 45 minutes
equal to .24 and up to 45 minutes equal to .44. Contrary to the aforementioned data, the
most effective interventions for reading fluency development hierarchically were those
that lasted maximum 60 minutes per week (.40), those that lasted up to 120 minutes per
week (.31) and those that lasted 61 to 120 minutes per week (.26). Regarding the total
time of interventions, the most effective were interventions that lasted 15 to 30 hours
(.49). Interventions that lasted fewer hours had smaller effect sizes (1-15 hours ES=.34,
30-40 hours ES=.19, >40 hours ES=.24). In addition, data analysis indicated that teacher-
directed instruction produced the smallest effect (.24), compared to .29 of peer tutoring
interventions and .46 of independent working. Finally, interventions which cued to
focus on speed, on comprehension and on both speed and comprehension recorded a
fluency effect size of .26, .12 and .35, respectively. Generally, Yang (2006) showed that
reading fluency interventions are moderately effective. His meta-analysis results reveal
that the best intervention for reading fluency development is the one which included
reading comprehension training. Finally, he confirmed that repeated reading method
and other guided oral reading strategies, compared to general teaching strategies, such
as the direct instruction or effective teaching, are more effective in helping students
develop reading fluency.
In a later study, Morgan, Sideridis and Hua (2012) evaluated data from 44 single-
subject design studies, published in peer-reviewed journals from 1977 to 2005, in order
to: (a) identify the interventions that immediately increase the oral reading fluency, (b)
estimate to what extent these gains maintain over time, and (c) evaluate whether
particular characteristics of students (gender, disability status, grade, school placement)
predict their response to fluency interventions. In this meta-analysis, experimental
studies with at least two phases and measurements over at least three time points were
included. The final poll of 44 studies involved 290 school-aged children (K-12th grade).
234 students were being educated in general educational classrooms and 56 were
receiving special educational services in segregated settings. Researchers used a
multilevel modeling in order to meta-analyze the results of the 44 studies.
According to results, the most effective intervention at the intercept level was the
goal-setting, followed by the reinforcement, the preview and repeated readings, the
tutoring and the word level and phonological training. The goal setting resulted in a
statistical significant mean effect of 64.29 cwpm, after accounting for student’s baseline
levels of fluency, as well as additional factors, such as the gender, the grade, the race
and the placement. The least effective intervention was the word-level and phonological
training, which resulted in a statistically non-significant gain of 9.85 cwpm. Chi-square
difference tests indicated that, for between-intervention differences, the goal setting was
significantly more effective compared to other interventions. Regarding the linear
effects, the goal-setting was the intervention, which was associated with the most
significant growth, followed by the preview repeated readings and by the word-level
and phonological interventions. Neither reinforcement nor tutoring was associated with
significant linear growth. Moreover, the analysis displayed that there were three
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significant quadratic effects. The two negative quadratic paths showed that previewing
and repeated readings and the word-level and phonological training became gradually
less effective over time, while the positive quadratic effect recorded by the goal-setting,
which became more effective over time. Overall, the data analysis indicated that the
most effective strategies for reading fluency development were those that triggered
student’s motivation, active involvement and willingness. Interesting were the results
about the mediating role of gender, grade, disability status and placement in
intervention effectiveness. Students of minority racial/ethnic heritage responded well to
systematic fluency intervention (16.43, p=.002), as older students did (1.70, p=.008).
Students with visual impairments and learning disabilities made the greatest gains over
their baseline levels of fluency (65.87 p=.001 and 44.92, p=.000, respectively). Students
with autism, mental retardation and behavioral disorders indicated lower development
(for autism 16.60, p=.019, for mental retardation 29.13, p=.002 and for students with
behavioral problems 21.14, p=.009) (Morgan et al., 2012).
Galuschka, Ise, Krick and Schulte-Körne (2014) evaluated the results of 22
experimental studies in order to examine the effectiveness of different interventions in
performance of students with reading difficulties. The goal was twofold: (a) to
determine the effectiveness of the different interventions in reading and spelling
performance of children and adolescents with reading difficulties and (b) to explore the
mediating role of various factors in the efficacy of these interventions. The studies
involved between-subject design, using control or placebo groups and they were
published between 1985 and 2013. Participants were children and adolescents whose
reading performance was below the 25th percentile or below at least one standard
deviation. Meta-analysis was computed with a total of 49 comparisons between
experimental and control groups. 5 out of the 49 comparisons concerned reading
fluency interventions, including repeated word and text reading or guided repeated
reading. The reading fluency studies aimed at improving word recognition skills. The
meta-analysis results were calculated separately for reading and spelling performance.
In this paper, only the data about the reading performance is reviewed.
According to meta-analysis results, phonics instruction was the only teaching
approach, which had significant effect on reading performance. In addition, analysis
revealed that interventions conducted with students with mild reading problems
reported a slighter higher mean effect size (g’=0.449), compared to those that conducted
with students with moderate (g’=0.228) or severe reading problems (g’=0.305).
However, the differences were not statistically significant (p=.188). No significant
differences (p=.250) were found between the mean effect sizes of interventions that
lasted up to 14 hours (g’=0.351), interventions that lasted 15 to 34 hours (g’=0.113) and
interventions that lasted more than 35 hours (g’=0.371). Similarly to previous results, no
significant differences (p=.432) were found between studies with maximum duration of
12 weeks (g’=0.261) and studies that lasted more than 12 weeks (g’=0.353). Interventions
conducted by researchers documented high effect size (g’=0.806) compared to studies
which were conducted by teachers (g’=0.247), therapists (g’=0.256) and students
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(g’=0.400). Although no significant differences between those subgroups were identified
(p=0.88). Overall, the results of this meta-analysis demonstrated that reading fluency
interventions alone is not efficient and adequate to improve reading skills of students
with reading difficulties. Although phonemic awareness instruction in combination
with reading fluency training result in better results, increasing the reading
performance of children and adolescents with reading difficulties (Galuschka et al.,
2014)
In a recent meta-analysis, Suggate (2014) studied the data of 71 reading
intervention studies in order to examine the retention of the effect sizes over time. To
rectify this, an analysis of the follow-up effects as a function of intervention, sample and
methodological variables was conducted. In the meta-analysis context, the results of
experimental and quasi-experimental reading interventions, focused on phonemic
awareness, phonics, fluency and comprehension were examined. The evaluated studies,
published in peer-reviewed journals between 1980 and 2013, included a follow-up
assessment and contained at-least one control or comparison group. The mean time
from the post-tests to the follow-up tests was 11.17 months. The grades of the samples
ranged between pre-school students and 6.5th grade. Especially for reading fluency, 12
interventions contained repeated readings or peer tutoring strategies focusing only on
reading connected texts were examined. It should be mentioned that some fluency
interventions contained components of phonics instruction, as well.
According to data analysis, normal readers appeared to lose their advantage over
control groups in follow-up tests with interventions administered by researchers
resulting in larger effect size at posttests over the other type of intervention
administrators. Specifically, the mean effect size at posttests for typical readers was .28
and for reading disabled .37, while at follow-up tests was .13 and .30, respectively.
Furthermore, at posttests the effect size of interventions administered by researcher
(ES=.60) or by trained intervener (ES=.49) were high to moderate, losing however their
effect at follow-up tests (ES=.36, ES=.34, respectively). Interventions administered by
teachers and with computer or peer involvement indicated moderate to small effect
sizes at posttests (ES=.41, ES=.31, ES=.37), losing however the magnitude of their effect
at follow-up tests (ES=.10, ES=.25, ES=.30, respectively). Furthermore, it was particularly
evident that the younger the intervention sample was the lower the effect size at follow-
up tests was. Specifically, for kindergarten and pre-school students the effect sizes
reduced from .34 to .12 at follow-up tests and for students in grade 1 to 2 from .40 to .26,
respectively. Contrary to the above results, the effect sizes for older students (grade 3 to
6) increased from .35 to .43 at follow-up tests. Regarding the intervention goal, analysis
indicated that the most effective interventions were the phonemic awareness and
reading comprehension interventions and the mixed programs. Reading fluency and
phonics interventions reported lower results. In particular, their effect sizes were
moderate to small, reducing their rates from .47 to .28 and from .29 to .07 at follow-up
tests, respectively. Therefore, 11 months after participating in interventions with
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phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency or comprehension approaches a small
effect of the interventions remains (Suggate, 2014).
Finally, Lee and Yoon Yoon (2015) conducted a meta-analysis of 34 empirical
studies in order to identify the effects of repeated reading interventions on reading
fluency of students with reading difficulties. The goal was to examine the overall effects
of repeated reading method itself and the effects of the additional instructional
components within repeated reading interventions on reading fluency performance.
The examined studies were peer-reviewed articles and dissertations, published from
1992 to 2012, had experimental design and were conducted only with students with or
at risk for learning disabilities in kindergarten to 12th grade. The final poll was
comprised of 34 studies, examining in total 39 independent effect sizes. The estimated
overall Hedges’ g of the 39 independent effect sizes revealed the positive effect of
repeated readings on reading fluency of students with reading difficulties, especially at
the elementary grade level. The findings also suggested that a combination of the
repeated reading method and listening passage preview would be the most effective
method for these students. Specifically, the effect size seemed to be larger in younger
students, supporting that the grade and the level of reading skills play a major role in
the degree of success and intervention effectiveness. Subgroup analyses of studies
reported that the repeated reading interventions were more effective in elementary
students (g’=1.63) than in secondary ones (g’=0.86), as well as in students at elementary
reading level (g’=1.25) than at secondary reading level (g’=0.86), with the differences
being statistically significant for both of them (p=.005 and p=.001, respectively).
Regarding the additional intervention components, the repeated reading method in
combination with the listening passage preview had higher effect size (g’=1.95) on
reading fluency than the repeated reading method without listening passage preview
(g’=0.94). The difference was statistically significant (p=.003). However, no significant
differences were found between the conditions of repeated reading with word preview
(g’=1.52) and immediate feedback provision (g’=1.20) and the repeated reading
interventions without them (g’=1.12 and g’=1.22, respectively). Furthermore, the
analysis revealed that the effect of the goal setting implementation (g’=1.19) was not
statistically significant from the repeated reading without it (g’=1.21). Similarly, there
was no difference between with and without reinforcement provision, even though
studies with reward showed a larger weighted mean effect size (g’=1.65) than studies
without the reward provision (g’=1.09). In addition, the meta-analysis showed that
difference between the repeated reading interventions with (g’=1.10) and without
(g’=1.29) peer-mediated reading was not significant (p=.416) (Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015).
Statistical analysis about the number of reading repetition indicated that when
the maximum number of repeats during the intervention was subgrouped by two, three
and four and more repeats, the difference among the three groups was significant
(p=.002). in addition, when the maximum number of repeats was four and more, the
effect of repeated reading interventions (g’=1.73) was significantly different from two
and three repeats (g’=1.45 and g’=0.82, respectively). Finally, results indicated that the
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effect of generalized transfer passages (g’=0.97) was smaller than the effect on
nontrnasfer practiced passages (g’=1.94), with the difference being significant (p=.001).
Generally, this study demonstrated that text model reading with at least four reading
repetitions is the most effective teaching method for improving and cultivating reading
fluency in students with reading problems. Contrary to other studies, the larger effect
size of the feedback, self-monitoring, goal-setting and assisted reading strategies over
the interventions that didn’t include them is not confirmed (Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015).
Overall, results of the eight meta-analyses indicated that the majority of the
reading fluency intervention studies focus mostly on young students and on students
with reading difficulties, searching the most effective reading fluency instructional
strategies and components. In this context, the effectiveness of the repeated reading
method is confirmed almost by every meta-analysis. However, the diversity of the
additional instructional components within these repeated reading interventions is
evident, raising the need for further discussion.
5. Synopsis and Comments of Meta-analyses Findings
The goal in this paper is to identify the most effective instructional strategies and
intervention components for reading fluency development through a review of eight
meta-analyses. Eight related to reading fluency meta-analyses, which were published
between 2000 and 2015, evaluating 272 related studies (196 out of them focused only on
reading fluency), are examined. Our review and processing of the eight meta-analyses
follows and uses the “LD Alerts” format. In detail, for this literature study, the
“Promising” strategies and intervention components gather support by almost every
meta-analysis and they seem to be effective under a variety of conditions and
educational contexts and also for the majority of students, regardless of their grade or
reading level. On the other hand, “Carefully Used” strategies and intervention
components are the ones that are only partially supported by the research, reporting
controversial, negative or limited evidence.
5.1 The “Promising” Instructional Strategies and Intervention Components
The “Promising” instructional strategies and intervention components are the most
effective ones and they are proposed to be used in reading fluency interventions. These
strategies and components concern the factors of intervention administrator,
instructional strategies and students’ grade and reading level. All the variables are
discussed in detail below.
The most commonly studied reading fluency teaching method throughout this
meta-analyses review is the repeated reading. Its effectiveness is supported by every
meta-analysis, documenting moderate to high effect sizes on reading fluency
development both for familiar and unfamiliar texts. Furthermore, repeated readings are
effective for students from kindergarten through high school and for students with
different reading levels and cognitive skills. Repeated readings document also
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significant effect sizes in a variety of contexts and settings, such as gender, type of
schooling and teaching conditions (Galuschka et al., 2014; Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015;
Morgan & Sideridis, 2006; Morgan et al., 2012; NICHD, 2000; Suggate, 2014; Therrien,
2004; Yang, 2006).
Another effective instructional strategy, which is proposed as a prerequisite
structural component for every reading fluency intervention, is the goal-setting. Goal-
setting is usually implemented in combination with self-monitoring and reinforcement
(Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015; Morgan & Sideridis, 2006; Morgan et al., 2012; Therrien, 2004),
since their combination is highly effective for all age groups and for students with
different reading levels, improving significantly their performance in familiar and to a
lower but remarkable degree in unfamiliar texts (Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015; Morgan &
Sideridis, 2006; Morgan et al., 2012; Therrien, 2004). Goal-setting implementation has
larger effect when it is administered by an adult (Therrien, 2004), indicating that the
guidance by an experienced adult is an irreplaceable part for every instructional
intervention. Further, Morgan and his colleagues (2006, 2012) indicated the high long-
term effects of the goal-setting strategy on reading fluency. Finally, there is an
agreement that three reading repetitions are adequate for significant improvement in
reading fluency for familiar texts, while up to four repetitions lead to generalization of
the acquired skill to unfamiliar ones (Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015; Therrien, 2004).
Goal-setting and self-monitoring behaviors appear to be two types of learning
skills that boost effectiveness of reading fluency interventions (Ramdass & Zimermman,
2011). According to Joseph και Eveleigh’ (2011) meta-analysis, self-monitoring
techniques develop significantly the total reading performance, indicating the major
role of motivation and goal-setting in reading behavior. However, since goal-setting is
used mostly in combination either with self-monitoring or with reinforcement strategies
does not permit identification of its specific contribution.
The significant role of adults in intervention administration is confirmed by the
previous meta-analyses review, as well. The effect sizes of the reading fluency
interventions are much higher when they are administered by an adult (Therrien, 2004)
and especially by a researcher or intervener (Suggate, 2014). It seems that researcher
administrators are well-trained and know exactly both how to apply each strategy
effectively, following the protocol and how to provide appropriate feedback to students
according to their individual needs.
An additional point of agreement of this meta-analyses review refers to the type
of cueing that should be provided to students before the reading process. Two meta-
analyses set relevant research questions and concluded that students who are cued to
focus both on speed and comprehension during their reading have better results,
developing to a larger extent their reading fluency performance than students who
focus only on speed or comprehension, separately (Therrien, 2004; Yang, 2006). The
better results of the simultaneous existence of speed and comprehension cues are
probably correlated to the strong and reciprocal relationship between reading speed
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and comprehension (Berninger et al., 2010 Dowhower, 1989; Hudson, 2011; Stanovich,
1980).
Providing a preview constitutes another “promising” instructional strategy. Data
revealed that students’ reading fluency is higher when a preview strategy is preceded
(Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015; Morgan & Sideridis, 2006; Morgan et al., 2012). Discussing
about the text content in advance or practicing the text key-words before reading them
within the text help students to read faster and better. Preview has also small to
medium effect sizes on reading fluency for elementary and secondary students with
special educational needs (Morgan et al., 2006, 2012). Furthermore, different types of
previewing may have different effect sizes. Specifically, listening to the text model
reading improves more students’ reading fluency than the pre-teaching of text key-
words (Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015). It is possible that listening in advance to the text model
reading assists in the construction of semantic expectations based on the text content,
triggering students’ motivation and involvement, which in turn leads to better reading
speed (Chard et al., 2002). However, preview strategy is characterized by difficulties, as
well, since it is a broad term, incorporating many strategies and techniques.
In regard to the impact of model reading on reading fluency development, two
meta-analyses reported that interventions which incorporate model reading improve
students’ reading fluency on moderate level (Morgan & Sideridis, 2006; Therrien, 2004).
Morgan and Sideridis (2006) reported that reading fluency of familiar texts can be
improved through model reading to a lower however degree, compared to other
strategies results. Also, it is worth mentioning that its effect is much higher when it is
implemented by an adult compared to experienced peer reader or recorded material
(Therrien, 2004).
Four out of eight meta-analyses investigated the role of students’ grade and
reading skills in reading fluency development (Morgan et al., 2012; Suggate, 2014;
Therrien, 2004; Yang, 2006). Despite the fact that we do not hold clear evidence about
the grade and reading level for which the reading fluency interventions are more
effective, some general conclusions can be drawn. The meta-analyses focusing only on
first grades students (K-6th grade) (NICHD, 2000; Suggate, 2014; Therrien, 2004; Yang,
2006), concluded that reading fluency interventions have great impact on students from
kindergarten through 6th grade for both familiar (Therrien, 2004) and unfamiliar texts
(NICHD, 2000; Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015; Suggate, 2014; Therrien, 2004; Yang, 2006).
Furthermore, according to four meta-analyses (NICHD, 2000; Lee & Yoon Yoon, 2015;
Morgan & Sideridis, 2006; Morgan et al., 2012), secondary students respond also well to
reading fluency interventions. However, the results are different, depending on
students’ reading skills, with students with or at risk for reading disabilities improving
their reading fluency more than typical readers (Morgan et al., 2012; Suggate, 2014;
Therrien, 2004; Yang, 2006). Finally, although criteria for identifying students with or at
risk for reading difficulties are variable, reading fluency of low readers seems that it can
be improved despite its complex and multidimensional structure (Torgesen & Hudson,
2006).
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Overall, the review of the eight meta-analyses data reveals several strategies and
intervention components, which should be incorporated into every reading fluency
intervention. The findings concern important intervention factors, such as instructional
strategies, the training of the person administering the intervention, the number of
times that students should read the same text and the students’ group ages and reading
skills. Therefore, what we found is that when we provide more than four times of
reading repetitions, when we include goal-setting in combination with self-monitoring
and reinforcement, when there is guidance by an adult and the focus is placed both on
speed and comprehension during the reading process, and when we use model reading
and text preview reading fluency interventions become more effective. Additionally,
although reading fluency interventions appear to be effective in all school grades and
for students with different reading skills, are more effective with younger students and
with students with or at risk for reading difficulties.
5.2 The “Carefully Used” Instructional Strategies and Intervention Components
Based on this meta-analyses review several “Carefully Used” instructional strategies
and components are identified. The “Carefully Used” variables concern major
intervention factors, such as intervention and session duration and frequency,
instructional strategies, the role of gender and type of disability as well as the
educational settings and long-term effects. The “Carefully Used” strategies and
intervention components are discussed below and classified into three broader groups:
(a) intervention strategies and factors with controversial results, (b) intervention
strategies and factors with small effect sizes, and (c) intervention strategies and factors
with limited support.
The review of the eight meta-analyses raises one strategy and one intervention
dimension with controversial results. Regarding the first one, the effectiveness of
feedback provision on reading fluency appears to be inconclusive. On the one hand,
National Reading Panel (2000) reported that repeated readings are more effective when
they are combined with immediate feedback provision regarding students’ reading
accuracy and expression. On the other hand, Therrien (2004) indicated that for familiar
texts, interventions with feedback provision lead to lower results, compared to
interventions which do not include this strategy. Discrepancies in these meta-analyses
results may be attributed to the different methodologies and test analysis used by the
researchers, to their different experimental designs as well as to the different students’
characteristics, grades and reading skills.
Duration of intervention is another decisive intervention dimension with
controversial results. In two out of eight meta-analyses the role of this intervention
dimension was examined, leading however to diverse results (Galuschka et al., 2014;
Yang, 2006). Firstly, we need to clarify that in one meta-analysis only five reading
fluency studies were included, with results not being significant and concerning only
students with reading difficulties (Galuschka et al., 2014). So, according to Yang’s meta-
analysis (2006), the most appropriate number of weeks are one to six, recording
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moderate effect sizes, while Galuschka and his colleagues (2014) concluded that
implementation of intervention should last more than twelve weeks. Regarding the
total number of hours, results were controversial, as well. Yang (2006) proposed that
interventions should last 15 to 30 hours, while Galuschka and his colleagues (2014)
recommended more than 35 hours. Therefore, more studies should be conducted in
order to get valid results on this decisive intervention dimension.
In second group, two intervention strategies with small effect sizes are included.
The effect of sight-word reading instruction on reading fluency was examined in
several studies, confirming its small effect sizes on reading fluency development
(Morgan & Sideridis, 2006; Morgan et al., 2012; Yang, 2006). The researchers agreed that
the implementation of sight-word reading strategies has small effect sizes on text
reading fluency cultivation, proving that sight-word reading strategies focus more on
decoding skills rather than on reading speed. In the same framework, Morgan and his
colleagues (2006, 2012) confirmed that the effect of word level instruction on text
reading fluency is significantly lower, compared to other reading fluency instructional
strategies, indicating that reading fluency development acquired at word level is not
generalized to text one. Regarding peers’ involvement in reading fluency intervention
there is an agreement on their small effectiveness in reading fluency development. Four
meta-analyses confirmed that students’ peers may not be the best administrators for
reading fluency interventions, recording small effect sizes (Morgan et al., 2012; Suggate,
2014; Therrien, 2004; Yang, 2006). Students’ peers may not know exactly how to support
appropriately their peers who are in need.
Finally, the third group entails one instructional method and also several
intervention dimensions with limited available data. The instructional method concerns
the silent independent reading and the intervention dimensions concern the duration
and frequency of training sessions, the role of gender and disability, the role of
educational settings as well as the long-term effects. The available data for each of them
derives either from one or two meta-analyses, raising the need for further investigation.
Specifically, the data about the way that silent independent reading is executed and
how it is related to oral reading fluency and comprehension is limited and the existing
data records very small effect sizes (Yang, 2006). However, there are several
methodological issues that hinder the comparative study of silent independent reading
and repeated readings. In addition, Morgan and his colleagues (2006, 2012) tried to
address several important questions, examining the role of gender and disability and
the role of the different educational settings in reading fluency interventions.
Specifically, Morgan and his colleagues (2006, 2012) revealed that girls respond better to
reading fluency interventions than boys as well as students with visual problems than
students with other types of disability. Regarding the role of educational settings in
reading fluency instruction, Morgan and Sideridis (2006) reported that general
educational settings are more appropriate for reading fluency interventions. There is
also available data about interventions held with computer involvement which
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reported small effect sizes on reading fluency development, as well (Galuschka et al.,
2014; Suggate, 2014).
Similarly, only one meta-analysis (Yang, 2006) examined the important role of
session length and frequency in effectiveness of reading fluency interventions. Yang
concluded that interventions that last more than 45 minutes per session produce higher
effect sizes, while sessions lasting between 15-30 minutes produce smaller. However, it
should be mentioned that studies, included in Yang’s (2006) meta-analysis and last
more than 45 minutes were only four, limiting the validity of these results. Regarding
the session frequency, Yang proposed that one to two times per week is the best
frequency for the reading fluency instruction, meta-analyzing data again from only four
relevant studies. Three to four sessions per week are the second more effective
proposed frequency for reading fluency intervention. Finally, according to Yang,
interventions which last up to 60 minutes per week totally, are the most effective,
documenting a moderate effect sizes.
6. Conclusion
Over the last six decades, it seems that the scientific community has focused its interest
on reading fluency development. Specifically, research interest seems to be focused
mostly on young students and on students with or at risk for reading difficulties, with
their basic research questions concerning the instructional strategies that lead to more
substantial reading fluency development. The review of the eight relevant meta-
analyses confirms the positive effect of repeated readings on reading fluency
development and cultivation, documenting moderate to high effect sizes. Extremely
important seems to be the role of adult in interventions administration, since it
increases the level of their effectiveness. Furthermore, goal-setting, reinforcement and
self-monitoring appear to be the most effective instructional strategies within the
repeated reading interventions, revealing the significant role of motivation, self-
regulation and goal-focused behavior in reading. In addition, preview and cue
provision have a decisive role in reading fluency interventions. Specifically, when
students are cued in advance to focus both on reading speed and comprehension
during the reading process they improve their reading fluency performance to a greater
extent. Finally, at least four reading repetitions of the same text are a prerequisite for
every reading fluency intervention.
7. Recommendations
Despite the extensive research on reading fluency instruction, several intervention
dimensions remain to be studied. As it has already been stated above, the intervention
and session duration and frequency, the teaching methods and strategies, the role of
gender and the type of disability as well as the educational settings and the long-term
effects are some intervention dimensions for which limited data is available.
Susana Padeliadu, Sophia Giazitzidou
A SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH ON READING FLUENCY DEVELOMPENT:
STUDY OF EIGHT META-ANALYSES
European Journal of Special Education Research - Volume 3 Issue 4 2018 253
Furthermore, the reading material is another basic dimension of reading fluency
interventions that influence their effectiveness significantly. The readability level, the
linguistic characteristics, the content as well as the genre and the number of the
overlapping words constitute some text features that affect reading significantly and
their contribution to reading fluency instruction should be examined in depth. In
addition, the level of orthographic consistency seems to mediate the effectiveness of the
reading fluency interventions to a great extent. Findings from inconsistent
orthographies, such as the English one, do not converge with the findings from
consistent orthographies, such as the Finnish and Greek. So, a meta-analysis which will
focus only on consistent orthographies will be very informative and useful.
About the authors
Susana Padeliadu is a Professor of Special Education at Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki, at Faculty of Philosophy and Education. Her research focuses on the field
of special education and especially students with specific learning disabilities, including
studies on the nature and the assessment of learning disabilities of children in Greek
language and the relationship between reading difficulties and other factors, such as
psycho-social factors. Further, her interest includes meta-cognitive abilities and
strategies. She has also worked on issues related to school and social integration of
students with special needs. Finally, significant part of her work focuses on teacher
training and the development and evaluation of appropriate teacher-training
programmes.
Sophia Giazitzidou is a PhD student in Special Education at Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki, at Faculty of Philosophy and Education. Her research interests focus on
the field of special education and especially on students with specific learning
disabilities. Her main research activity includes studies on reading fluency. Specifically,
in her PhD research examines the contribution of the main cognitive and linguistic
factors to reading fluency in students with and without learning disabilities. In
addition, she has worked on eye-tracking reading experiments and on issues related to
school and social integration of students with special needs
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... Taking into consideration the aforementioned, the need for identifying specific components or strategies that can lead to reading fluency improvement is imperative. Padeliadu and Giazitzidou (2018) conducted a synthesis of research on reading fluency development, examining the results presented by eight relevant meta-analyses. ...
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