2.4 Three Cueing System Theory of Reading

Learning Intentions

Participants will be able to: 

  • Describe the popular Three-Cueing Systems Model of Reading
  • Understand why it does not help close the gap for weak readers


Watch Session 4 below.

*Please see the Transcripts resource folder located in Module 0 for a text copy of the transcript from this video. 


  • Three-Cueing Systems approach to reading has influenced our reading instruction for the last three decades
  • It reflects a theory of reading that seemed promising in the 1960s, but hundreds of studies show that it does not accurately reflect how skilled reading works
  • Despite this, it is continuously affirmed as being a true and accurate representation of how reading develops.
  • Studies on its effectiveness continuously show that it tends to have weak long term results with struggling readers.

Reflect & Connect

If you had a conversation with a colleague who insists on using the Three-Cuing Systems approach to reading, how would you explain to them why it is ineffective with struggling readers?