Language Programs Ranked by Outcomes for Dyslexic and Struggling Readers

One criticism I often see of meta-analysis is that different studies are measuring different outcomes. For example one reading program study might measure letter ID and phonemic awareness, whereas another might measure word ID and comprehension. Even more problematic, some studies list their impact without listing their measurement criteria. Moreover, the demographics of different studies are often very different, and different age demographics lead to different results. Earlier this year I put out a large, but non-peer reviewed meta-analysis of language programs. After doing so, I have often gotten the question, what is the best program for my specific situation. In order to address this question, and to help correct for the above listed (valid) criticism of meta-analysis, I have decided to put a small series of sub-analyses that break down my original results according to more specific outcomes, and rank programs based on their effect sizes, according to these outcomes. 


This analysis provides more specific outcomes for people to look at. However, it also lowers the total sample size and statistical power of the analysis. This is especially true, as most studies only look at a small number of specific outcomes, with this in mind, readers should note that most language programs will be excluded from most sub-analyses, due to a lack of research. If you would like to learn more about the methodology behind this analysis, you can find the original sourced article here: 


On this page, you can find language programs ranked by effect size by outcomes for dyslexic and struggling students. Please note that this page will be updated over time, as I add new research. 

Written by Nathaniel Hansford

Last Edited 2022-05-28



Empower Reading: 


 Lovett, M. W., Frijters, J. C., Wolf, M., Steinbach, K. A., Sevcik, R. A., & Morris, R. D. (2017). Early intervention for children at risk for reading disabilities: The impact of grade at intervention and individual differences on intervention outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(7), 889-914. doi:





Fritts, J. L. (2016). Direct instruction and Orton-Gillingham reading methodologies:

Effectiveness of increasing reading achievement of elementary school students with learning

disabilities (Publication No. 10168236) [Master’s thesis, Northeastern University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. Reuter, 


 H. B. (2006). Phonological awareness instruction for middle school students with disabilities:

A scripted multisensory intervention (Publication No. 3251867) [Master’s thesis,University of Oregon]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.


 Torgesen, J., Schirm, A., Castner, L., Vartivarian, S., Mansfield, W., Myers, D., Stancavage,

F., Durno, D., Javorsky, R., & Haan, C. (2007). National assessment of Title I: Final

report. Volume II. Closing the reading gap: Findings from a randomized trial of four reading

interventions for striving readers (NCEE 2008-4013). National Center for Education

Evaluation and Regional Assistance.


 Wanzek, J., & Roberts, G. (2012). Reading interventions with varying instructional emphases

for fourth graders with reading difficulties. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35(2), 90–101.




Reading SImplified: 


Bratsch-Hines, M., Vernon-Feagans, L., Pedonti, S., & Varghese, C. (2020). Differential Effects of the Targeted Reading Intervention for Students With Low Phonological Awareness and/or Vocabulary. Learning Disability Quarterly, 43(4), 214–226.


Aiken. (2020). Targeted Reading Intervention Teacher Certification: An Approach to Building and Sustaining Teacher Expertise in Rural Schools. Literacy Research and Instruction., 59(4), 346–369.


Amendum, S. J., Bratsch, H. M., & Vernon, F. L. (2018). Investigating the Efficacy of a Web‐Based Early Reading and Professional Development Intervention for Young English Learners. Reading Research Quarterly, 53(2), 155–174.


Vernon-Feagans, L., Gallagher, K., Ginsberg, M. C., Amendum, S., Kainz, K., Rose, J., & Burchinal, M. (2010). A Diagnostic Teaching Intervention for Classroom Teachers: Helping Struggling Readers in Early Elementary School. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice (Wiley-Blackwell), 25(4), 183–193.


Vernon-Feagans, L., Kainz, K., Amendum, S., Ginsberg, M., Wood, T., & Bock, A. (2012). Targeted Reading Intervention: A Coaching Model to Help Classroom Teachers With Struggling Readers. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35(2), 102–114.


Amendum, S. J., Vernon-Feagans, L., & Ginsberg, M. C. (2011). The Effectiveness of a Technologically Facilitated Classroom-Based Early Reading Intervention. Elementary School Journal, 112(1), 107–131.




Vernon-Feagans, L., Kainz, K., Amendum, S., Ginsberg, M., Wood, T., & Bock, A. (2012). Targeted Reading Intervention: A Coaching Model to Help Classroom Teachers With Struggling Readers. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35(2), 102–114. 


Vernon-Feagans, L., Kainz, K., Ginsberg, M., Hedrick, A., & Amendum, S. (2013). Live Webcam Coaching to Help Early Elementary Classroom Teachers Provide Effective Literacy Instruction for Struggling Readers: The Targeted Reading Intervention. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(4), 1175–1187.





C, Buttler. (2013). The impact of REWARDS on reading skills of students with learning disabilities. California State University. <>.


M, Shippen. (2004). A Comparison of Two Direct Instruction Reading Programs for Urban Middle School Students. Remedial and Special Education. Retrieved from <>. 


 Anita Archer, Mary Gleason, and Vicky Vachon. (No known date). Unidentified RCT Study. Broken link: <>. 


 I, Klee. (2015). The Effect Using the REWARDS® Reading Program on Vowel Sounds, Word Part, and Prefix and Suffix Identification in Multi-Syllabic Words: A Case Report. Education Research Quarterly. Retrieved from <>. 


 R, Autzen. (2021). REWARDS: A Reading Intervention Program to Address Grade Level Reading Ability. Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase Proceedings. Retrieved from <>. 


 R, Kerl. (2018). Timing is Everything: Adapting Rewards Intermediate For 4th And 5th Grade Striving Readers. Hamline University. Retrieved from <>. 


 The Learning Company. (2020). HMH Into Reading Implementation Study Research Study Results 2019-2020. Retrieved from <>.  


 R, Eddy, Et al. (2020). QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN. Cobblestone. Retrieved from <>. 




 M, Gallagher. (2019). S.P.I.R.E. Intensive Reading Intervention: A Comparative Analysis at Second Through Sixth. Spire. Retrieved from <>. 


M, Wilger. (2008). Spring Independent SchoolDistrict (ISD),TX 2007-2008 SchoolYear. Auto Skill International. Retrieved from <>. 


 A, Grippi. (2006). Teaching the Disruptive Child to Read: An Evaluation of the SPIRE Reading Program. International Journal of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved from <>.




Words Their Way:


Eddy, R. M., Ruitman, T., Hankel, N., Matelski, M. H. & Schmalstig, M. (2011). Pearson Words Their Way: Word Study in Action Intervention Efficacy Study Final Report.


ELL Toolbox. (2022). Words Their Way. Retrieved from <>.


Take Flight: 


Ring, J., Avrit, K., Black, J., Ring, J. J., Avrit, K. J., & Black, J. L. (2017). Take Flight: the evolution of an Orton Gillingham-based curriculum. Annals of Dyslexia, 67(3), 383–400.




Rachel Schechter, Paul Macaruso, Elizabeth R. Kazakoff & Elizabeth Brooke (2015) Exploration of a Blended Learning Approach to Reading Instruction for Low SES Students in Early Elementary Grades, Computers in the Schools, 32:3-4, 183-200, DOI: 10.1080/07380569.2015.1100652


Macaruso, P., Hook, P. E., & McCabe, R. (2006). The efficacy of computer-based supplementary phonics programs for advancing reading skills in at-risk elementary students. Journal of Research in Reading, 29(2), 162–172.


Macaruso, P., & Rodman, A. (2011). Efficacy of Computer-Assisted Instruction for the Development of Early Literacy Skills in Young Children. Reading Psychology, 32(2), 172–196.  


Hurwitz, L.B. (2020). Supporting Struggling and Non-Proficient Middle School Readers with the Lexia PowerUp Literacy Program. Concord, MA: Lexia Learning Systems LLC, A Rosetta Stone Company


S, Wilkes, Et al. (2016). Exploration of a Blended Lerning Approach to Reading Instruction in Second Grade. Edmedia. Retrieved from <>. 


Macaruso, P., & Walker, A. (2008). The Efficacy of Computer-Assisted Instruction for Advancing Literacy Skills in Kindergarten Children. Reading Psychology, 29(3), 266–287. 


Schechter, R., Macaruso, P., Kazakoff, E.R. and Brooke, E. (2015). Exploration of a blended learning approach to reading instruction for low SES students in early elementary grades. Computers in the Schools, 32, 183–200.


Macaruso, P., & Rodman, A. (2011). Benefits of Computer-Assisted Instruction to Support Reading Acquisition in English Language Learners. Bilingual Research Journal, 34(3), 301–315. 


Paul Macaruso & Alyson Rodman (2009) Benefits of computer‐assisted instruction for struggling readers in middle school, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 24:1, 103-113, DOI: 10.1080/08856250802596774 


HMH. (2022). Research Into Reading Research Foundations. Retrieved from <>. 



Voyageur Sopris. (2022). Reading Intervention. Retrieved from <>.




Open Court: 


Skindrud, K., & Gersten, R. (2006). An Evaluation of Two Contrasting Approaches for Improving Reading Achievement in a Large Urban District. Elementary School Journal, 106(5), 389–407.


Stockard, J. (2010). Promoting Reading Achievement and Countering the “Fourth-Grade Slump”: The Impact of Direct Instruction on Reading Achievement in Fifth Grade. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 15(3), 218–240.


Vaden-Kiernan, M., Borman, G., Caverly, S., Bell, N., Sullivan, K., Ruiz de Castilla, V., Fleming, G., Rodriguez, D., Henry, C., Long, T., & Hughes Jones, D. (2018). Findings From a Multiyear Scale-Up Effectiveness Trial of Open Court Reading. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 11(1), 109–132.


 Borman, G. D., Dowling, N. M., & Schneck, C. (2008). A Multisite Cluster Randomized Field Trial of Open Court Reading. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30(4), 389–407.





Spelling Mastery:


Darch, C., Eaves, R. C., Crowe, D. A., Simmons, K., & Conniff, A. (2006). Teaching spelling to students with learning disabilities: A comparison of rule-based strategies versus traditional instruction. Journal of Direct Instruction, 6(1), 1–16.


Darch, C., & Simpson, R. G. (1990). Effectiveness of visual imagery versus rule-based strategies in teaching spelling to learning disabled students. Research in Rural Education, 7(1), 61–70.



Reading Mastery:


C, Schieffer. (2002). An Analysis of the Reading Mastery Program: Effective Components and Research Review. Journal of Direct Instruction. Volume 2: Issue 2. Retrieved from <>. 


Yu, L., & Rachor, R. (2000, April). The two-year evaluation of the three-year Direct Instruction program, in an urban public school system. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.


O'Connor, R. E., Jenkins, J. R., Cole, K. N., & Mills, P. E. (1993). Two approaches to reading instruction with children with disabilities: does program design make a difference?. Exceptional children, 59(4), 312–323.




The Development of Early Academic Success: The Impact of Direct Instruction’s Reading Mastery. (2010). Journal of Behavior Assessment & Intervention in Children, 1(1), 2–24.


Corrective Reading: 


Benner, G. J., Michael, E., Ralston, N. C., & Lee, E. O. (2022). The impact of supplemental word recognition strategies on students with reading difficulties. International Journal of Instruction, 15(1) 837-856. 


Benner, Gregory & Kinder, Diane & Beaudoin, Kathleen & Stein, Marcy. (2005). The Effects of the "Corrective Reading Decoding" Program on the Basic Reading Skills and Social Adjustment of Students with High-Incidence Disabilities. Journal of Direct Instruction.


Lloyd, J., Cullinan, D., Heins, E. D., & Epstein, M. H. (1980). Direct Instruction: Effects on Oral and Written Language Comprehension. Learning Disability Quarterly, 3(4), 70–76.