Vermont Association
of School Psychologists

David Kilpatrick:Recent Advances in Understanding Word-Level Reading Difficulties: Implications for Assessment, Prevention, and Highly Successful Intervention

  • October 13, 2017
  • 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Sheraton Hotel, South Burlington, Vermont


  • Please contact Cynthia LaRiviere for questions about your membership status.

Registration is closed

Did you know?


  • Weak readers, not skilled readers, rely heavily on context. This is likely due to their limited pool of familiar words as well as their poor phonic decoding skills.
  • About 75% of students will learn to read no matter how unhelpful the instruction. However, if weak readers are encouraged to use weak-reader-style strategies such as contextual guessing and not focusing on the precise spelling patterns within words, they will fail to become proficient readers.
  •  Multiple peer reviewed studies have shown that guessing words from context is not as efficient or accurate as phonic decoding.
  • Skilled word recognition does not require context.
  • Semantic errors are not a sign of better reading development than phonetic errors.
  • Dr. David Kilpatrick has expended considerable effort to pore over wide ranging reading research that most of us would never have the time or drive to look into. Additionally, he conveys research findings in clear language and provides practical examples and recommendations. 
  • His work is significant for bridging the gap between reading research and educational practice, informing us of what we need to know if we work with struggling readers. Although some assessment procedures and instructional approaches are suggested or discouraged in his presentation, he is not affiliated with specific curriculum materials or assessment batteries.
  • For struggling readers, Dr. Kilpatrick advocates establishing “orthographic mapping”, which facilitates the development of fluent word recognition skills. 
  • Accuracy and automaticity with single word decoding should be the goal of early reading instruction. When this is established, cognitive resources are available for comprehension, the ultimate goal of reading. 

David Kilpatrick received his PhD in school psychology from Syracuse University in 1994. He was a practicing school psychologist with the East Syracuse-Minoa School District from 1989 to 2016. He has been teaching courses in learning disabilities and educational psychology for the State University of New York, College at Cortland since 1994, where he has worked full-time since 2006.


David has completed over 1000 evaluations on students with reading difficulties and disabilities. Also, he has conducted research studies on reading with hundreds of both typically developing reading and struggling readers. He is the author of Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties (2015) and Equipped for Reading Success: A Comprehensive, Step-by-Step Program for Developing Phonemic Awareness and Fluent Word Recognition (2015).


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