Davis Dyslexia Research

Study supports Davis Symbol Mastery


A recently published case study documents the progress of a fourth grade special education student who successfully used a modified form of Davis Symbol Mastery to improve spelling skills.

When the program started, Dylynn was only able to spell one word out of ten during  baseline testing.. After the Davis-based intervention, he was generally able to achieve 100% correct on spelling tests. 

The researchers reported:

“Dylynn clearly was able to consistently spell words for which he had performed the Davis procedure whereas before he had very low achievement levels with those words. He also seemed to develop a sense of ownership over his learning of spelling words. He consistently worked hard and demonstrated creativity in his drawings and clay formations of the words... Dylynn's improvement suggests that the Davis Symbol Mastery as intervention on the student's spelling skills has merit.”

“All the directions and guidelines for the intervention were clearly found in the Davis Symbol Mastery System Handbook, but even those were not needed after the first session. The student was quickly able to proceed through the steps of the process without direction from the first author.”

See the full published article here.

Alongside independent research - some of which has been published in peer-reviewed science journals - the results of the Davis Correction Programme have also been studied and collated by Davis facilitators through the years.

Because the Davis methods produce such dramatic results, our claims can sound too good to be true. This obviously makes independent research very important.

Davis programmes achieve 97% success rate in 1982

Ron Davis’s initial studies - based on pre- and post programme reading tests - showed an average improvement of almost 2 grade levels and a success rate of 97%, as Alice Davis director of DDAI explains: 

In 1982, we obtained permission from McGraw-Hill to use their achievement tests untimed with our clients. A brief summary of the results is a follows: 

A study to measure the effectiveness of the Davis procedures was conducted by the Reading Research Council between 1982 and 1984, utilizing the McGraw-Hill Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills. The study group consisted of 110 cases, 24 female and 86 males ages 6 to 61. Untimed testing was done before and after 30-40 hours of individualized counseling and instruction. 
Results showed an average increase of 21 percentile points in reading scores, and 17 percentile points in language scores. Grade equivalents in both areas also increased an average of 1.8, almost two grade levels. 

We believe these results were largely due to what the client already knew but could not demonstrate previously because of disorientation and confusions. Continued progress and improvement in reading would depend on the client’s follow through with Davis Symbol Mastery. 
Alice Davis, DDAI 

Davis research in South Africa produces life-changing results

In a research study published in Africa Education Review, in October 2009, some of the participants experienced life changing results from being taken through the Davis procedures by graduate students fresh from teacher training. Amongst other things, this shows that the Davis procedures are effective even when provided by non-professionals (meaning people not trained and licensed in providing a Davis programme). The following is a excerpt from Abigail Marshall's article about the study on www.dyslexia.com:

My child couldn’t read at all. After the orientation counselling and symbol mastery, she could read fluently. She was so thankful and delighted that she almost cried and could not thank me enough. According to the classroom educator her spelling performance also improved a lot. [From Interview 7]

Researchers at University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, compared the progress of 18 dyslexic students who were given instruction using Davis Dyslexia Correction techniques with a similar control group of students from the same school,  taught with phonological strategies. They reported that over a period of nine months, the Davis students performed significantly better on tests of word recognition skills and spelling than the control group.
Click here to see full article on www.dyslexia.com.
Click here to find a page where you can purchase the full article.

A study in the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa shows promising results

South African educator René Engelbrecht worked with a group of 20 Afrikaans-speaking pupils in grade 5-7 from a school for learners with special needs. These children had all previously been diagnosed with a reading disorder and had an average to above-average intelligence quotient. These children were randomly assigned to a control group (10) and an experimental group (10).

The participants from both groups were then pre-evaluated by means of four measuring-instruments to determine their reading and spelling levels, and parents as well as educators were asked to complete psychological questionnaires beforehand so that the participants’ psychological functioning could be ascertained.
The participants of the experimental group were then subjected to an intervention programme based on certain Davis techniques. It comprised of seven weekly sessions of two hours each. The control group received no intervention. After the intervention the participants of both groups were again evaluated by means of the same four measuring-instruments and the parents and educators were asked to complete the pychological questionnaire once again.

Engelbrecht worked with the experimental group using Davis methods as described in the book The Gift of Dyslexia. This included Davis Orientation Counseling, Davis Symbol Mastery, Davis reading exercises, and Coordination Therapy [Koosh Ball exercises].

After the programme was completed, all 20 participants were retested and the parents had to fill out the questionnaire again.

The study showed that over a short term the Davis techniques had a positive effect on the reading and spelling ability and on psychological functioning. The effect was furthermore sustained after the intervention.
Read in further detail by clicking here.

Icelandic survey shows 100% satisfaction with the Davis Programme 

In 2003 Axel Gudmundsson, the founder of Gifted Dyslexic introduced the Davis methods in his native Iceland. Since then, over two hundred Icelandic people have been corrected and recently an informal survey showed some very satisfying results. Every single one of the clients that participated in the survey felt the programme delivered as promised, and they would not hesitate recommending the Davis programme to others. 
  • 88% had been diagnosed with dyslexia prior to a programme. 
  • 75% had tried other treatments before the Davis programme.
  • 100% considered Davis programmes living up to expectations. 
  • 100% were happy with their decision to do a Davis programme. 
  • 80% reached all their stated goals for the programme – the remaining 20% had not completed the follow-up work at home. 
  • 100% experienced a positive change from the programme. 
  • 100% would recommend the programme to a third party. 
In 2004 a couple of students in the Faculty of Education at the University of Akureyri in Iceland did a study of the effectiveness of the Davis methods, as their final dissertation for their B.Ed-diploma. Below is an abstract from that study:


This piece of writing is composed as final dissertation for the degree of B.Ed. from the Faculty of Education at the University of Akureyri. The aim of the work is to seek theoretical knowledge on dyslexia as well as focusing particularly on the theories and methods of Ronald D. Davis. The work also includes details of a research project carried out by the authors with regard to the effect of Davis’s method when applied in the classroom.

Dyslexia has been a prominent topic of discussion in recent years, having stimulated debate among the public as well as among teachers with regard to the impact it may have on individuals. Many theories as to the causes of dyslexia have seen the light of day; scientists, however, have found it hard to agree on its definition, a problem which still remains to be solved. Some think dyslexia is caused by damage to the brain or its abnormal operation, while others, including Davis, maintain that dyslexics think differently, i.e. in pictorial images. He prefers to regard such thought as a special ability which, at the same time, causes problems to the dyslexic with regard to reading and writing. Davis’s methodology differs from previous explanations and this attracted the authors’ attention. For this reason, it was regarded as a matter of special interest to study the methodology in more detail and the dissertation contains the results of this study. The theories of a few other scientists are also outlined.

The outcome of the authors’ own research project is also presented. The project was conducted among teachers who have been trained in Davis’s method and have used it in the classroom. It was discovered that the teachers have a positive attitude towards the method, believing it to have a beneficial effect on the students’ concentration, classroom discipline and success in studies. As the sample was but a small one, however, and the method is quite new in Iceland, the conclusions of the project should be taken with a grain of salt and preferably regarded as indications that may give occasion to further research.

Larry Smith trained as a Davis facilitator in 1999 and founded the Rocky Point Academy, specialising in learning difficulties. He has done some very interesting
research which is shown on the Rocky Point Academy website. They have statistics from over 360 clients showing 97% success rate and an average improvement of almost 4 grade levels. 

The data shows an average improvement of almost 4 full grade levels in reading. More than one-third of the group showed improvement of 5 or more grade levels; more than three-quarters improved their reading skills by at least 3 grade levels.

Read more: http://www.dyslexia.com/science/results.htm#ixzz1MdwGu8DN

Statistics from Ontario, Canada 

Wes Sole of London, Ontario, has a detailed report of program outcomes taken from 21 Davis clients, broken down by gender, age, and type of reading skill. He has found the greatest degree of improvement in oral reading skills, with 71% of clients improving one or more grade levels during the one-week program. His study can be viewed by clicking here

Peer reviewed pilot study shows dramatic improvement in schools

The Davis Learning Strategies have been researched and published with very encouraging results. During the five years of pilot studies, we discovered that the Davis methods helped ALL children enhance and improve their reading and language arts skills. Followup showed that the Davis Learning Strategies not only prevented special education placement in later school years, but also increased the number of students qualifying for gifted education placement. Implementation of the methods benefited all students no matter what their learning styles or reading level. Teachers found that strong readers become stronger in language and grammar skills and weaker readers begin to read effortlessly.

Gifted referrals in the Davis classes were ranging from 100% to 800% higher than the US national average of 5% (10-40% of the classrooms were referred to accelerated programmes). A preliminary study looking at DLS in Iceland shows similar results.

A study in Malaysia shows clear benefits of Davis programme

This study investigated the effects of the Clay Modeling Program on the reading behavior of dyslexic children. The three participants were very poor readers who could not even identify simple words. A pre-test to assess the participants’ ability to read was conducted. 

The treatment (Clay Modeling Program) was conducted for a period of eight weeks, involving 20 sessions of 75 minutes each, followed by a post-test after the eight-week treatment. The control group did not receive any treatment. The participants’ English teachers were also interviewed before and after the treatment. 

Results show all three participants were able to read the specified text fluently without hesitation, able to spell the words from the text correctly, and more attentive in class. They were not that passive as before as they were now more responsive towards their teacher; showed signs of increased self-confidence; had the courage to read in front of the class; were more keen and willing to learn. 

The findings indicate that the Clay Modeling Program has a positive effect on the reading behavior of dyslexic children. If conducted with a larger population, it would further enhance the Malaysian society in achieving one of its visions of having a literate society.