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IES Grant

Title: National Randomized Controlled Trial Study of SRA/McGraw-Hill Open-Court Reading Program
Center: NCER Year: 2009
Principal Investigator: Vaden-Kiernan, Michael Awardee: Southwest Educational Development Corporation (SEDL)
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $5,302,021
Type: Scale-Up Evaluations Award Number: R305A090150

Purpose: Effective early reading instruction is critical for preventing later reading difficulties. With 67% of 4th grade students failing to achieve proficiency in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2007, the need to implement effective early reading programs is greatly apparent. The Open Court Reading (OCR) program published by SRA/McGraw-Hill and widely used for almost 40 years is a phonics-based core-reading program for students in kindergarten to 6th grade that incorporates many of the instructional practices related to phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension recommended by the National Reading Panel of 2000. In this study, an independent research team will evaluate the effectiveness of the OCR program in a large national sample of elementary schools at scale, across diverse school populations and conditions, and with no more support than schools would have access to if they had selected OCR as their early reading curriculum apart from participation in a research project.

Project Activities: The research team is conducting a cluster-randomized trial with a nationally representative sample in which schools are randomly assigned to either use the OCR program or to continue to use their current early reading curriculum (comparison condition). In addition to studying the impact of OCR, the researchers are examining student, school, and district factors, as well as treatment fidelity data that may be potential moderators of the effects of the OCR program.

Products: The products of this project will be information concerning the effectiveness of the OCR program for improving reading outcomes for elementary school students in kindergarten through 5th grade, and published reports.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in a random sample of 48 elementary schools (kindergarten through 5th grade) stratified by region (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West) and geographic locale (urban, suburban, and rural).

Population: The study participants will be approximately 5,000 students in kindergarten through 5th grade and 200 teachers.

Intervention: The OCR program is widely used and incorporates the instructional practices recommended in the 2000 report of the National Reading Panel related to phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. The OCR curriculum includes student materials, teacher manuals, diagnostic and assessment tools, and test preparation practice guides. The program includes a 2- or 3-day summer workshop to train teachers on program implementation and on-going support by OCR reading consultants throughout the school year. In all grades (kindergarten through 5th grade), the instructional format is a three-part lesson with specific instruction on vocabulary, comprehension strategies, and comprehension skills. Both informal and formal assessments are used to monitor progress and inform instruction.

Research Design and Methods: The study uses a multi-site cluster-randomized trial in which elementary schools from 12 districts (representing different regions of the country and geographic locales) will be randomized to training and delivery of the OCR curriculum (treatment group) or to delivery of the standard reading instruction for the school/district (control group). Data from teachers and students in two cohorts (grades K-2 and grades 3-5) will be gathered over three school years.

Control Condition: Schools assigned to the control condition will continue to deliver reading instruction as usual for the school or district.

Key Measures: Students reading outcomes will be measured using the Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE). Fidelity of implementation will be measured using the OCR Observation Form.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use a three-level hierarchical linear model (HLM) with fall pre-test scores on the GRADE as covariates and spring post-test scores on the GRADE as the dependent variable for the main intent-to-treat analysis of the effects of the OCR program on students' reading achievement. Additional subgroup analyses will be used to investigate the effects of the OCR program as a function of student baseline characteristics (e.g., age/grade, gender, baseline reading proficiency), teacher/classroom characteristics (e.g., class size, fidelity of implementation), and school characteristics (e.g., geographic region or locale).


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Tipton, E., Fellers, L., Caverly, S., Vaden-Kiernan, M., Borman, G., Sullivan, K., and Ruiz de Castilla, V. (2016). Site Selection in Experiments: An Assessment of Site Recruitment and Generalizability in Two Scale-Up Studies. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 9(1): 209–228.

Tipton, E., Hedges, L. V., Vaden-Kiernan, M., Borman, G., Sullivan, K., and Caverly, S. (2014). Sample Selection in Randomized Experiments: A New Method Using Propensity Score Stratified Sampling. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 7(1): 114–135.

Vaden-Kiernan, M., Borman, G., Caverly, S., Bell, N., Sullivan, K., Ruiz de Castilla, V., ... and Hughes Jones, D. (2018). Findings From a Multiyear Scale-Up Effectiveness Trial of Open Court Reading. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 11(1), 109–132.