Children who struggle to develop emergent reading and writing skills may need early reading intervention in order to prevent reading failure.
E very year, millions of American children and adults struggle with basic reading. Statistics show that approximately 32 million adults are functionally illiterate. This means that 21% of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level!
T hese statistics have not improved significantly over the last decade and there is growing concern about the continued gaps in reading achievement for students in K-12. Many educators are requesting more focus on early reading intervention in order to reduce the number of low-level adult readers.
D evelopment of early reading skills is an essential component of later reading skills and research indicates that children benefit when they enter kindergarten with phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, concepts of print awareness, and practice with emergent writing.
I n the past, children who entered kindergarten with limited literacy experience were expected to “catch up” once they began to receive instruction. This has not only proven to be a false assumption but research indicates that waiting rarely works.
In fact, students who are poor readers in first grade almost always remain poor readers in fourth grade and this trend typically continues into high school and beyond.
D iscussions of early reading intervention have now shifted from the developmental lag theory (some students are “late bloomers”) to the understanding that reading delays are usually the result of skill deficits. Instead of waiting for students to fail, research clearly demonstrates the need for early reading intervention to ensure that all students have appropriate instruction as soon as they begin to fall behind.
“The best solution to the problem of reading failure is to allocate resources for early identification and prevention”
T he focus on good reading skills in early childhood is important because these skills will be required in order for learners to comprehend what they read for the remainder of their lives.
Students who are unsuccessful readers and writers in the early grades are unable to access the curriculum at the same level as their peers resulting in achievement gaps that often began in kindergarten and first grade.
Early reading intervention accomplishes several goals:
Appropriately targets instruction to students who are at risk for reading failure to eliminate skill deficits
Identifies students who need additional support and services beyond instruction and leads to assessment of reading problems before these issues become severe
Addresses the literacy development of English language learners to ensure that they are making sufficient progress
R esearchers and educators now have the information necessary to make informed decisions regarding reading instruction that yields the greatest success for young readers.
For those children who need additional support, early reading intervention is essential to providing them with the best opportunity to become good readers.