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Instructing Struggling Older Readers: A Selective Meta-Analysis of Intervention Research


Requests for reprints should be sent to Lindsay J. Flynn, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223. Electronic mail may be sent to


This article synthesizes the experimental literature on reading interventions for upper elementary and middle school students identified with reading disabilities on norm-referenced reading measures. Ten studies (12 independent samples) yielded 70 effect sizes on norm-referenced reading measures with an aggregated mean of 0.41 (SE= .04) in favor of the experimental condition. Moderate effect sizes emerged on norm-referenced measures of word identification (M= 0.41), decoding (M= 0.43), and comprehension (M= 0.73) and low effect sizes for fluency (M=–.29). Intervention outcomes did not significantly vary as a function of the reading skills measured, type of reading instruction, and/or variations in sample characteristics. Studies yielding low and relatively moderate effect sizes shared a number of instructional components. Overall, the magnitude of the results for experimental reading intervention studies for students with reading disabilities in the middle school age range was small to moderate. Implications of the study were discussed.