Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties


Taylor & Francis


School of Education




Main, S., Hill, S., & Paolino, A. (2023). Improving the reading skills of struggling secondary students in a real-world setting: issues of implementation and sustainability. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 78(1) 73-95.


Reading difficulties have been associated with limited academic success and related social-emotional outcomes including anxiety and low motivation. Recent research on the educational impact of the COVID-19 pandemic indicates that children with poor reading skills were disproportionally disadvantaged. This growing number of students experiencing reading difficulties will require effective implementation of strategies to prevent long-term disadvantage, including in the challenging context of secondary schools where teachers are unfamiliar with reading instruction and constrained by timetabling of subjects and teachers. This research examined whether a Direct Instruction programme could be implemented with fidelity in the real world of a secondary school over a sustained period. Reading progress was monitored using a standardised assessment. Programme implementation was monitored via interviews with staff, classroom observations, and field notes. These data revealed that, whilst fidelity of programme implementation was challenging, programme delivery and student ability and confidence in reading improved over the three years.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.