A new article in Exceptional Children describes a randomised controlled trial which aimed to investigate the effectiveness of a scientifically based reading programme for pupils with below average IQs, including children with a disability.
The schools selected for the US study had a relatively large number of pupils with IQ scores between 40 and 80. Children began their involvement when they were in early elementary school, and participated for up to four years. They were randomly assigned within their school and their IQ range (moderate=40–55, mild=56–69, and borderline=70–80) to either an intervention group (n=76), or control group (n=65).
Pupils in the intervention group received the programme daily for approximately 40 to 50 minutes in small groups of between one and four, provided by highly trained intervention teachers. The programme was based on Early Interventions in Reading, a systematic and explicit comprehensive reading intervention previously validated with struggling readers. However, as many children did not have the prerequisite skills to benefit, additional lessons were also developed. The control pupils received normal teaching.
The children were tested when they entered the study and then at the end of each academic year. On average, pupils in the treatment group made significantly greater progress on nearly all language and literacy measures than those in the control group. The authors conclude that the results demonstrate the ability of children with low IQs, including those with mild to moderate disabilities, to learn basic reading skills when provided with appropriate, comprehensive teaching for an extended period of time.
Source: Is Scientifically Based Reading Instruction Effective for Students With Below-Average IQs? (2014), Exceptional Children, (80)3.