Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction & Intervention


Selecting a successful intervention program: 

For students with specific disabilities, extra support and remediation targeting their specific areas of need are often required to ensure they have the best chance of developing appropriate skills. This may occur through in-school support or in the form of individual tutoring by a specialised teacher or a trained parent outside of school time or through in-school support.

There are many intervention programs available for teachers and tutors to use, some of which are produced commercially and others that are freely available on the internet. It is important to note that the cost of the program does not necessarily determine the effectiveness.

Click HERE to see the criteria associated with programs most likely to achieve successful outcomes.

Structured Synthetic Phonics: A Guide for Teachers and Parents

Click HERE to access the guide: ULD For Teachers and Parents

“Learning to read is essentially learning a code. The letters we use are simply symbols or written code for the speech sounds of English. Learning about the relationship between the letters of the alphabet and the speech sounds they represent allows us to “crack the code” and learn to both read (decode) and spell (encode).

Synthetic Phonics is a way of teaching children to read. It has been identified both here and overseas as the most successful approach to the teaching of reading and spelling. The ‘synthetic’ component reflects the practice of ‘synthesising’, or blending together. The ‘phonic’ part reflects the process of linking individual speech sounds (phonemes) to written symbols (graphemes). Essentially, when a child learns to read using Synthetic Phonics they learn to link letters to speech sounds and then blend these sounds together to read words. They also learn to separate (segment) words into their constituent sounds and link these sounds to letters in order to spell them.

The term ‘Synthetic Phonics’ began to be widely used after the publication of a study carried out in Clackmannanshire, in Scotland. Researchers from St Andrew’s University found that one method of learning to read produced much better results than the other methods they looked at. This method was called Synthetic Phonics. This success has since been replicated in numerous studies world-wide.”

Centre for Independent Studies (CIS)

Read About It: Scientific Evidence for Effective Teaching of Reading. 

There are five essential and interdependent components of effective, evidence-based reading instruction – the five keys to reading.

Research Report by Kerry Hempestall, edited by Jennifer Buckingham. March 2016.

Dyslexia Victoria Support (Australia)

Evidence-based programs for Reading and Spelling


A quick summary of a range of evidence-based programs recommended by AUSPELD and CIS. March 2016.  Fact Sheet written by Heidi Gregory, co-founder and administrator of DVS.

Buyer Beware

Five from Five Project

FIVE from FIVE video: Dr Jennifer Buckingham explains why FIVE from FIVE is necessary and what it aims to achieve

Test your Knowledge https://www.fivefromfive.org.au/test-your-knowledge/

Why is phonics essential https://www.fivefromfive.org.au/why-is-phonics-important/

Scope and Sequence https://www.fivefromfive.org.au/scope-and-sequence/

Decodable Readers https://www.fivefromfive.org.au/decodable-readers/

International Dyslexia Association (IDA)

When Educational Promises Are Too Good to Be True

When a child struggles to read, parents and educators want to do everything possible to help that child keep up with his or her peers and be successful in school. But as much as we want that to happen overnight, that is not how it usually works. It can take years of hard work, even with the best teachers and instruction.

Unfortunately, some organizations or individuals may take advantage of parents when they are most vulnerable by making exaggerated claims or false guarantees based on “pseudo science.”

This fact sheet provides guidance in learning to critically evaluate programs, avoid scams, and move forward toward providing instruction that will truly help the children who need it.

Effective Reading Instruction for Students with Dyslexia

The most difficult problem for students with dyslexia is learning to read. Unfortunately, popularly employed reading approaches, such as Guided Reading or Balanced Literacy, are not effective for struggling readers. These approaches are especially ineffective for students with dyslexia because they do not focus on the decoding skills these students need to succeed in reading. (Download the IDA factsheet on Effective Reading Instruction here)

What does work is Structured Literacy, which prepares students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner. This approach not only helps students with dyslexia, but there is substantial evidence that it is more effective for all readers.

Structured Literacy

“Successful literacy instruction and interventions provide a strong core of highly explicit, systematic teaching of foundation skills such as decoding and spelling skills, as well as explicit teaching of other important components of literacy such as vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. See IDA’s educator training initiatives brief: Structured Literacy™: An Introductory Guide to learn more.”

The IDA has published a primer on effective reading instruction. A PDF can be downloaded here.

Ladder of Reading

Nancy Young has published a Ladder of Reading (PDF version available here) and a Structured Literacy Primer . “Reading and spelling English entails learning the secrets of the alphabetic code. For most children this means systematic and explicit instruction – and lots of practice. Code mastery can be so much fun!”

More information and resources are available on https://www.nancyyoung.ca/


Learning Difficulties Australia (LDA)

LDA (Learning Difficulties Australia) Position Statement on Reading Instruction.

A position statement on approaches to reading instruction that are supported by Learning Difficulties Australia (LDA).

LDA supports approaches to reading instruction that adopt an explicit structured approach to the teaching of reading and are consistent with the scientific evidence as to how children learn to read and how best to teach them. May 2015.

Molly de Lemos from the LDA also wrote on this topic in  “How Children Learn to Read: a Position Statement”

LDA Bulletin:

Early, explicit and evidence-based: award winning teacher Sarah Asome explains the approach taken at Bentleigh West primary school – page 13 https://www.ldaustralia.org/client/documents/LDA%20Bulletin%20Autumn%202017_WEB.pdf

LDA Tutor Search

Click HERE to find a tutor near you.

Macquarie University

“There are numerous other programmes (other than Dore) claiming to help children with reading difficulties that are expensive, that lack independent scientific evidence that they are of any help for children who are having difficulties learning to read, and that make at best tenuous claims of being based on new developments in brain science. Examples of these include FastForWord, BrainGym, the Irlen coloured lenses programme and, currently, the Arrowsmith programme.” Emeritus Professor Max ColtheartDepartment of Cognitive Sciencehttps://www.cogsci.mq.edu.au/members/profile.php?memberID=53 

Musec Briefings

“How can you tell which educational practices or programs are likely to help your child and which ones aren’t? In the present environment where the public is bombarded with information on programs offering to address the problems of students with learning difficulties, there is a need for authoritative comment, based on empirical evidence, to either support or question the effectiveness of such programs.” (SPELD SA)

Macquarie University Special Education Centre lists the current MUSEC briefings that are most relevant to reading and spelling:

  • Behavioural Optometry
  • Learning Styles
  • Fast ForWord Language
  • Cellfield Program
  • The Listening Program
  • Irlen Tinted Lenses and Overlays
  • Choosing Effective Programs for Low Progress Readers
  • Explicit Instruction for Students With Special Learning Needs
  • Response To Intervention
  • Book Levelling
  • Dore/DDAT Exercise Program
  • Teacher Aides
  • Knowing What Works
  • Brain Gym
  • Curriculum-Based Measurement of Reading
  • Reading Recovery for Young Struggling Readers

MSL Approach

“Multisensory Structured Language”

What is meant by Multisensory teaching?

“Multisensory teaching is one important aspect of instruction for dyslexic students that is used by clinically trained teachers. Effective instruction for students with dyslexia is what all student require that is instruction that is direct & explicit, structured & systematic, cumulative, cognitive,intensive, emotionally sound and focused on meaningfully taking speech to print. The multisensory component involves the use of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile pathways simultaneously to enhance memory and learning of written language. A skilled MSL educator provides direct instruction to ensure links are consistently made between the visual (language we see), auditory (language we hear/perceive), and kinesthetic-tactile (language symbols we feel) pathways in learning to read and spell.

Margaret Byrd Rawson, a former President of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), explains how the multisensory component is required for students with dyslexia (although this approach assists all learners):

Students with dyslexia need to be taught, slowly and thoroughly, the basic elements of their language—the sounds and the letters which represent them—and how to put these together and take them apart. They have to have lots of practice in having their writing hands, eyes, ears, and voices working together for conscious organization and retention of their learning. 

MSL instruction is suitable for all students regardless of the cause who are struggling to master written print.”

What is Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) Teaching – Fact Sheet

Multisensory teaching is one important aspect of instruction for dyslexic students, used by clinically trained teachers. A fact sheet from the International Dyslexia Association. November 2008.

Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) Reading Instruction – Fact Sheet

A Fact Sheet explaining Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) therapy, which is based on the principles of the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction, written by Belinda Dekker.

Nomanis Notes

Nomanis Notes comprise a series of single page briefings on relevant educational topics likely to be of interest to parents, teachers and other professionals, with particular reference to learning difficulties.

Nomanis also has a blog: https://www.nomanis.com.au/ 

Phonics International

FREE Alphabetic Code Charts by Debbie Hepplewhite

Alphabetic Code Charts may be helpful for a variety of people and purposes.

These charts are all free to download. See the English Alphabetic Code plus The Synthetic Phonics Teaching Principles (with pictures)

Oxford University

In this Dystalk article with video, Professor Dorothy Bishop provides an insight into what parents should look out for and what to consider when evaluating if alternative solutions for dyslexia will be effective.



Free phonic books, tips and resources


What is meant by “Learning Difficulties”?

Information for parents http://www.speldvic.org.au/information-for-parents/


Where to start  

Parents https://www.spelfabet.com.au/where-to-start/parents/

Teachers https://www.spelfabet.com.au/where-to-start/teachers/ 

David A Kilpatrick

Seminar summarised by Alison Clarke

  1. Part 1 https://www.spelfabet.com.au/2018/02/things-tie-together-when-you-have-a-really-good-theory/
  2. Part 2 https://www.spelfabet.com.au/2018/03/our-goal-is-to-develop-phoneme-proficiency-in-kids/
  3. Part 3 https://www.spelfabet.com.au/2018/04/the-nature-of-reading-development-and-difficulties/

Decodable books

Books with simplified spelling patterns, which beginning readers can tackle independently with success. Please choose a level at which your learner can independently tackle about 95% of words.

Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity

Evidence-Based Programs in Dyslexia Education

In this video, Dr. Sally Shaywitz (Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity) explains the difference between evidence-based vs. research-based programs, and why we need to select evidence-based programs to help dyslexic children succeed.


Disclaimer: Please note that Dyslexia Victoria Support (DVS) does not officially endorse, represent, sponsor, or have any legal connection to any of the resources listed. Many parents have found these resources to be very useful in their journey to learn more about dyslexia and how to better advocate for their children.