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Secondary reading

Students who enter secondary school with poor literacy skills face huge challenges. They often have difficulty understanding the increasingly complex narrative and expository texts that they encounter in individual subjects.

For many students who read at low levels, secondary school does provide a last chance to build sufficient reading skills.

This review summarises research on secondary reading programmes.

  • We looked at all available evidence on programmes designed to improve secondary reading achievement, in order to establish what we know works for pupils aged 11-18.
  • We examined all studies of secondary reading programmes from all countries, as long as a report was available in English. (NB Most studies took place in the US).
  • We were then able to assess and compare the effectiveness of these programmes.

Descriptions and ratings for all the programmes are included in this summary.

The results of the review show that

  • the most successful programmes focus on changing daily teaching practices, especially those involving co-operative learning methods
  • the successful approaches also provided extensive professional development

The full report (which this review summarises) is also available.

Secondary reading

Educator's summary

As PDF document

As web pages

Key findings

Top-rated programmes

Programmes with limited evidence

Other programmes

Review methods

Full report (33 pages)

As PDF document