National assessment of Title I interim report - Volume II: Closing the reading gap: First year findings from a randomized trial of four reading interventions for striving readers

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, nearly 4 in 10 fourth graders read below the basic level. These literacy problems get worse as students advance through school and are exposed to progressively more complex concepts and courses. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of four remedial reading programs in improving the reading skills of 3rd and 5th graders, whether the impacts of the programs vary across students with difference baseline characteristics, and to what extent can this instruction close the reading gap and bring struggling readers within the normal range--relative to the instruction normally provided by their schools. The study took place in elementary schools in 27 districts of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit outside Pittsburgh, PA during the 2003-04 school year. Within each of 50 schools, 3rd and 5th grade students were identified as struggling readers by their teachers. These students were tested and were eligible for the study if they scored at or below the 30th percentile on a word-level reading test and at or above the 5th percentile on a vocabulary test. The final sample contains a total of 742 students. There are 335 3rd graders ? 208 treatment and 127 control students. There are 407 5th graders ? 228 treatment and 179 control students. Four existing programs were used: Spell Read P.A.T., Corrective Reading, Wilson Reading, and Failure Free Reading. Corrective Reading and Wilson Reading were modified to focus only on word-level skills. Spell Read P.A.T. and Failure Free Reading were intended to focus equally on word-level skills and reading comprehension/vocabulary. Teachers received 70 hours of professional development and support during the year. Instruction was delivered in small groups of 3 students, 5 days a week, for a total of 90 hours. Seven measures of reading skill were administered at the beginning and end of the school year to assess student progress: Word Attack, Word Identification Comprehension (Woodcock Reading Mastery Test); Phonemic Decoding Efficiency and Sight Word Efficiency (Test of Word Reading Efficiency); Oral Reading Fluency (Edformation); and Passage Comprehension (Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation). After one year of instruction, there were significant impacts on phonemic decoding, word reading accuracy and fluency, and comprehension for 3rd graders, but not for 5th graders. For third graders in the reading programs, the gap in word attach skills between struggling readers and average readers was reduced by about two-thirds. It was found that reading skills of 3rd graders can be significantly improved through instruction in word-level skills, but not the reading skills of 5th graders. The following are appended: (1) Details of Study Design and Implementation; (2) Data Collection; (3) Weighting Adjustment and Missing Data; (4) Details of Statistical Methods; (5) Intervention Impacts on Spelling and Calculation; (6) Instructional Group Clustering; (7) Parent Survey; (8) Teacher Survey and Behavioral Rating Forms; (9) Instructional Group Clustering; (10) Videotape Coding Guidelines for Each Reading Program; (11) Supporting Tables; (12) Sample Test Items; (13) Impact Estimate Standard Errors and P-Values; (14) Association between Instructional Group Heterogeneity and The Outcome; (15) Teacher Rating Form; (16) School Survey; and (17) Scientific Advisory Board. [This report was produced by the Corporation for the Advancement of Policy Evaluation. Additional support provided by the Barksdale Reading Institute, and the Haan Foundation for Children.]

Torgesen, J., Myers, D., Schirm, A., Stuart, E., Vartivarian, S., & Mansfield, W., et al.
Retrieved from Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education Web site:
Related Research
Content Area: 
Grade Level: 
early elementary
intermediate elementary
IDEA Disability Category: 
emotional disturbance
major-other health impairment
specific learning disability
speech or language impairment
Instructional Support: 
opportunities to learn concepts
practice and reinforcement activities
National Reading Panel Standards: 
English Language Arts: 
Reading: Foundational Skills
Reading: Informational Text
Reading: Literature