Top-rated programmes

Struggling readers

Educator's summary

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- Key findings
- Top-rated programmes
- Programmes with limited evidence
- Other programmes
- Review methods

Full report

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What Works for Struggling Readers?

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Strong Evidence of Effectiveness

At least two studies, one of which is a randomized or randomized quasi-experimental study, or multiple smaller studies, with a sample size-weighted effect size of at least +0.20, and a collective sample size across all studies of at least 250 students. To qualify for this category, effect sizes from the randomized studies must have a weighted mean effect size of at least +0.20.

Success for All
Provides extensive training and materials focused on co-operative learning, phonics, and a rapid pace of instruction. Also provides tutoring to struggling children, mostly age 6/7.
Type CTP + TT Available in UK Yes
Contact/ Website (Product training provided)
Reading Recovery
Provides the lowest achieving readers (lowest 20%) in year 2 with supplemental tutoring in addition to their normal reading classes.
Type TT Available in UK Yes
Contact/ Website Website:
Reading Intervention
A programme for children who have the most significant literacy difficulties and who are in the beginning stages of learning to read and write.  Children who take part in the programme will usually have had previous support in school. The programme is individually tailored, and delivered by intensively trained teachers and teaching assistants. Currently available only in Cumbria and Rochdale.  North Yorkshire has also developed a small group version of the intervention.   (Nb. This programme was known as Reading with Phonology during development).
Type TT Available in UK Yes
Contact/ Website Contact:

Information about the programme in Cumbria:

Some availability in the UK

One-to-One Teacher Tutoring with Phonics Emphasis - various programmes

1) Auditory Discrimination in Depth (TT)

2) Early Steps/Howard Street Tutoring (TT)

3) Intensive Reading

4) Reading Rescue (TT)

Type TT Available in UK Yes/no
Contact/ Website 1) US website:

2) Contact:

3) Contact:

4) US website:


Direct Instruction/ Corrective Reading
A highly structured, phonetic approach to reading instruction that emphasizes phonics, a step-by-step teaching approach, and direct teaching of comprehension skills, as well as extensive professional development and follow-up.
Type CTP, SGT Available in UK No
Contact/ Website US website:


Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS)
A technique in which children work in pairs, taking turns as teacher and learner, to learn a structured sequence of literacy skills, such as phonemic awareness, phonics, sound blending, passage reading, and story re-telling.
Type CTP Available in UK No
Contact/ Website US website:



Quick Reads
A supplementary programme designed to increase fluency, build vocabulary and background knowledge, and improve comprehension.
Type SG Available in UK No
Contact/ Website Website:

Available to purchase from:

Targeted Reading Intervention
A one-to-one tutoring model in which classroom teachers work individually with struggling readers in Years 1 and 2 for 15 minutes a day. The 1-1 sessions focus on re-reading for fluency (2 min.), word work (6 min.), and guided oral reading (7 min.).
Type TT Available in UK No
Contact/ Website Contact:
One-to-One Paraprofessional/Volunteer Tutoring with Phonics Emphasis
1) Sound Partners (TPara)

2) The Reading Connection (T-Para)

3) SMART (T-Para)

4) Reading Rescue (TPara)

5) Howard Street Tutoring (T-Para)

6) Book Buddies (TVolunteer)

Type T-P/V Available in UK No
Contact/ Website 1) E-mail:

2) Website:

3) Website:

4) Website:

5) E-mail:

6) E-mail:

Moderate Evidence of Effectiveness

At least two matched prospective studies, with a collective sample size of 250 pupils, and a weighted mean effect size of at least +0.20.

Cooperative Integrated Reading and
Composition (CIRC)
Nb. CIRC is now disseminated as Literacy Wings
Type CTP Available in UK Yes
Contact/ Website A co-operative learning programme designed to help pupils develop metacognitive strategies for comprehending narrative and expository text.