Effects of a supplemental vocabulary program in third-grade reading/language arts

The study examined the effectiveness of Elements of Reading: Vocabulary on improving the vocabulary outcome of third-grade students. The year-long intervention utilized a randomized controlled trial to assign teachers in Title I schools to treatment and control conditions. Teachers in the treatment condition taught Elements of Reading (EOR): Vocabulary, Level C (Beck & McKeown, 2004 ), which utilized explicit vocabulary instructional strategies such as semantic mapping and context clues along with other effective vocabulary development elements (e.g., oral instruction, personalization and active engagement, ample practice). Teachers in the control group used business-as-usual, non-specific instruction. The study included third-grade teachers and students in Title I schools from two sites. The demographic composition of the student participants was different in Site A and Site B. In Site A, a majority of the student participants were African-American, had low vocabulary ability, and received free or reduced lunch, while in Site B a majority of the student participants were white, performed at grade-level and were not eligible for free or reduced lunch. The author analyzed the treatment results by site and found mixed effects. The intervention had significant and positive effects on children's oral vocabulary and reading achievement in Site A but such positive effect was not found in Site B. The results may suggest that the intervention was more effective for students who were from a low socioeconomic background with a low level of vocabulary development.

Apthorp, H. S.
Journal of Educational Research, 100(2), 67-79.
Related Research
Content Area: 
Grade Level: 
early elementary
IDEA Disability Category: 
specific learning disability
Instructional Support: 
opportunities to learn concepts
practice and reinforcement activities
National Reading Panel Standards: 
English Language Arts: 
Reading: Informational Text
Reading: Literature