How much utility there is for reading instruction in the lists of the most frequently used words (MFUW) has been a topic of great interest for several reading experts. For example, Dechant (1970, p. 248) notes that the 150 MFUW (in this case those of the basal readers from several different series) are "especially useful in group activities such as experience charts, word games and word drills." Durkin (1970, p. 118) also believes that these MFUW are "highly serviceable" for basal reader stories. So much so, she says (1970, p. 424), that one good way to diagnose children's speed-of-reading habits is to have them read Dolch's (1951) list of the MFUW. (Durkin appears to contradict herself on this matter, however, when she [1972, p. 249] insists on another occasion that "the easiest words to learn often are the least useful.") Heilman (1967, p. 189) agrees with the position that the MFUW are highly important when he comments that "a child who has trouble with many of these [the 100 MFUW] will find reading a frustrating task."
Groff, P. (1977). A Test of the Utility of High Frequency Words. Reading Horizons, 18 (1). Retrieved from http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/reading_horizons/vol18/iss1/9