The impact of differentiated silent reading instruction targeting comprehension and efficiency in grades 4 and 5

The impact of differentiated silent reading instruction targeting comprehension and efficiency in grades 4 and 5

First Author: Kristin M. Gehsmann -- East Carolina University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Alexandra N. Spichtig; Jeffrey Pascoe; John D. Ferrara; Elias Tousley
Keywords: Reading comprehension, Reading fluency, Eye movements, Response to Intervention, Reading development
Abstract / Summary: 

Differentiated reading instruction is critical to optimally serve both struggling and high-performing students in a classroom. Comprehension level is typically used as a basis for differentiated instruction, yet an important but rarely considered mediating variable in comprehension is reading efficiency: Some students, for example, read quickly with poor comprehension, while others demonstrate impressive comprehension but read painfully slow. This randomized controlled trial examined the impact of differentiated, adaptive, silent reading instruction targeting both comprehension and efficiency.

Using a test-retest design, 426 US students in grades 4 and 5 were paired based on their initial scores on the Group Reading Assessment Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE) and then random assignment was used to divide the pairs between the treatment and control groups. Reading efficiency was also evaluated using an eye movement recording system (Visagraph).
Students in the control group received “business as usual” reading instruction during their 25-minute literacy intervention block, while those in the treatment group engaged in web-based scaffolded silent reading instruction during the same time. Reading comprehension and efficiency were reassessed at the end of the school year.

Pre-post comparisons indicated that, in comparison to controls, differentiated reading instruction targeting both comprehension and efficiency produced larger gains in reading efficiency in less proficient students, and larger gains in reading comprehension in more proficient students.

In sum, targeting both comprehension and efficiency development is a more comprehensive approach to providing differentiated reading instruction and it may better serve students with differing levels of reading proficiency.