• Intervention: An intervention for at-risk readers in grades K-2.
  • Key Findings: Randomized controlled trial shows sizable positive impacts on reading ability for students with poor phonological processing (e.g., letter naming, and awareness of the sounds within words).

Description of the Intervention

Lindamood Phonemic Sequencing is a curriculum for K-2 students with poor phonological processing. The curriculum provides intense instruction in word-level skills — including building awareness of the sounds within words (”phonemic awareness”) and letter-sound correspondences — to enable students to “decode” individual words. After the children demonstrate mastery in decoding words, they begin reading text that is readily decodable, followed by oral reading of regular books with tutors focusing on comprehension skills.

In the version of this intervention that was rigorously evaluated, students were provided one-on-one tutoring using Lindamood Phonemic Sequencing, in four 20-minute sessions per week for 2.5 years beginning in the second semester of kindergarten. Two of the sessions were conducted by a certified reading teacher and two by a teacher’s aide who followed the teacher’s written instructions. The teachers received 18 hours of training prior to the intervention, and three hours of in-service training bi-weekly during the intervention. Their tutoring sessions were periodically videotaped and reviewed by project consultants to identify areas for improvement. The aides were provided less extensive training.

The cost of the Lindamood Phonemic Sequencing manual and initial 18-hour training is $649 per teacher. Additional costs include (i) the teachers’ time spent tutoring (about one hour per student per week); (ii) the aides’ time tutoring (also an hour per student per week); (iii) the bi-weekly in-service training of teachers; and (iv) the training of aides. Click here for the curriculum’s website.


This program was evaluated in one randomized controlled trial of 180 kindergarten students in 13 public elementary schools scoring in the lowest 12% on phonological processing skills. Students were randomly assigned to (1) the Lindamood Phonemic Sequencing tutoring intervention described above; (2) one-on-one tutoring using a different curriculum (“Embedded Phonics”); (3) one-on-one tutoring in the activities taught in the students’ regular classroom reading programs; or (4) a control group that received no tutoring. Each group consisted of 45 students. Of the three interventions, the Lindamood Phonemic Sequencing intervention had the largest effects versus the control group; its effects are summarized below. The other two interventions had smaller effects (results not summarized here).

52% of the students were African American, 47% were white, and 1% were Hispanic.

Effects at the end of 2nd Grade (versus the control group):

  • Much lower percentage of students were retained in-grade in kindergarten or 1st grade (9% vs. 41%).
  • Many fewer students scored in the bottom 15th percentile for their age in word attack skills (24% vs. 53%); word identification skills (21% vs. 53%); and passage comprehension (36% vs. 56%).
  • Many more students scored above average for their age in word attack skills (42% vs. 4%); word identification skills (47% vs. 25%); and passage comprehension (36% vs. 16%).

Note: The intervention’s effects on grade retentions, word attack skills, and word identification skills are statistically significant. Its effect on passage comprehension are a strong trend but do not reach statistical significance.

Discussion of Study Quality (click here for a glossary of terms)

  • The study had reasonably low attrition, with outcome data collected for 77% of the original sample at the end of 2nd grade (2.5 years after randomization).
  • There were no significant differences in reading skills between the intervention and control groups prior to the intervention, nor in demographics.
  • The study measured outcomes using an intention-to-treat analysis.
  • The study was implemented in a typical public school setting with regular teachers, providing evidence of the intervention’s real-world effectiveness.
  • The study assessed reading outcomes using objective, well-established tests (Woodcock Word Attack, Word Identification, and Passage Comprehension tests, and Gray Oral Reading Test-III).
  • Staff gathering outcome data were blind as to treatment condition.
  • Study Limitation: Outcomes were measured immediately after the intervention concluded, at the end of 2nd grade. Longer term follow-up is necessary to determine whether the above impacts were sustained over time.


(Click on linked authors’ names for their contact information)