Do the benefits of scientifically based programs last? Do the children become independent skilled readers? Fluency is the critical marker for permanency. A fluent reader has formed permanent and perfect models of words in his automatic word form system for reading. The children most likely to develop fluency following an intervention are the boys and girls who receive proven early intervention and, optimally, prevention services in kindergarten or first grade. For children who are already experiencing reading problems, improvements are most likely to be maintained following the evidencebased programs I have recommended that are taught by a knowledgeable teacher, attended for a sufficient period of time, and provided with greater intensity (in an individual or small group setting). More intense interventions mean more exposure to print and more opportunities to practice reading words, the critical prerequisites to developing fluency.
When should a reading program be discontinued? In general, when a child is just gaining momentum in reading is the time for an all-out push and never the time for an abrupt halt. Simply teaching a child how to sound out words without providing him with practice in applying this skill to reading will likely result in a child who can sound out some words but has difficulty reading the many new words he comes across as he progresses in his studies. He will not be a fluent reader, and reading will remain effortful. Left alone, he will avoid reading. So this is the time to maintain the same level of intensity and quality of instruction while targeting fluency as well. To repeat: A child should not be removed from an effective reading program until he is able to read words and passages fluently at his grade level. Fortunately, standardized tests such as the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE) now make it possible to assess a child's efficiency in reading individual words, while other tests such as the Gray Oral Reading Tests-4 (GORT-4) measure his ability to read passages fluently aloud (see Chapter 13). The GORT-4 provides a standardized assessment of a child's oral reading accuracy, rate, and comprehension. A child may read isolated words efficiently but still struggle to read words when they are connected together in a passage-a much more demanding task. Request the results of your child's performance on both of these tests and discuss them with appropriate teachers before making any decision to remove him from a special reading program.
Has anyone evaluated the effectiveness of public school programs generally used to teach reading to dyslexic students?