Preventing Summer Reading Slide: Examining the Effects of Two Computer-Assisted Reading Programs

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Students who display reading difficulties/disabilities at the end of third grade are less likely to succeed in content areas and graduate from high school than their reading-proficient peers. Literature suggests that students in rural school districts lag behind their suburban peers in terms of their reading levels and accessibility to resources. Furthermore, students from low socioeconomic status (SES) households and those who have disabilities exhibit greater learning loss during the summer break. This exploratory study examined the effects of two parent-implemented computer-based reading programs on the reading skills of 20 students at-risk for reading failure during a summer break. Parental and students’ perceptions regarding the effectiveness and desirability of the programs were elicited. Results suggested that both programs facilitated gains in phonemic awareness and phonics. Furthermore, students in the Funnix group exhibited large gains in vocabulary and oral reading fluency, and the students in the PLATO group exhibited large gains in comprehension. Most of the students indicated they liked the programs and the programs helped them read. Similarly, most of the parents agreed that the programs were useful, and they were comfortable using the programs. A description of the computer programs, results, implications, and limitations of the study are discussed.