The Impact of Structured Literacy on Students with Reading Disabilities

Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Document Type

Project Abstract (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Keri DeSutter


structured literacy, reading disabilities, sound wall, high frequency words, symbol imagery, teaching practices


Structured Literacy has become the current approach to teaching reading skills in the education world. This type of approach prepares students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner. Structured Literacy not only helps students with reading disabilities, but there is substantial evidence that it is effective for all readers. For students with reading disabilities, learning to read is extremely challenging. Unfortunately, popularly employed reading approaches, such as Guided Reading or Balanced Literacy, have been shown to be less effective for struggling readers. This paper responds to these challenges by analyzing the impact of Structured Literacy on student learning. For the following project, a literature review was completed on the differences between Balanced Literacy and Structured Literacy, and how each approach has affected students with reading disabilities. Also, the project exemplifies real-life impact on students’ learning which connects the Structured Literacy approach to the current reading intervention program utilized in the special education classroom. Student data was collected throughout a 10-week individualized program and analyzed to review students’ progress. Results exhibited consistent progression of students’ phonemic awareness and decoding skills throughout the steps of the curriculum. Also, most students had improvement in their sight word recognition. However, students’ fluency skills remained stagnant as the generalization of skills to nonfiction stories remained a challenge. Furthermore, continuous research on Structured Literacy practices should occur to support the change in the literacy movement.

Abstract only: No full text available.