The ecological and population validity of reading interventions for adolescents: Can effectiveness be generalized?

Audrey M. Sorrells
Heather A. Cole
Nara N. Takakawa
Deborah Reed, University of Texas at El Paso


This paper examined the ecological and population validity of research on reading interventions for adolescents in grades 6-12. The 26 studies meeting selection criteria were analyzed to determine the characteristics of the students, interventionists, classroom structures, and school environments employed, as well as whether there were differential effects of treatments across those characteristics. In the 20+ years since the Council for Learning Disabilities’ and National Joint Commission on Learning Disabilities’ calls for greater specificity in descriptions of study participants and contexts, findings suggest that researchers have provided greater detail on participants, but many questions remain about the extent to which findings can be generalized. Specifically, gaps in the research exist with regard to African American and Native American students; English language learners; students in suburban, rural, and adjudicated schools; students in high school; interventions delivered by regular classroom teachers; interventions focused on vocabulary; and interventions in large groups and general education classrooms.