The analysis sample included 35 elementary schools across 14 states located in rural and small towns in the South and urban areas of the Midwest.
The study piloted the SFA ® program in fall 2001, when three schools were randomly assigned to the SFA ® and three schools to the comparison condition. In fall 2002, 35 new schools were recruited with 18 schools randomly assigned to implement SFA ® in grades K–2, and 17 schools randomly assigned to serve as comparisons. The study presented findings after the intervention students completed one, two, and three years of the program. For the effectiveness ratings, the WWC focused on findings from the longitudinal sample, that is, schools and students who completed three years of the program. After three years, 18 SFA ® schools with 707 students and 17 comparison
schools with 718 students remained in the longitudinal sample.
Intervention students received the SFA ® school reform program, including the SFA ® reading curriculum, tutoring for students’ quarterly assessments, family support teams for students’ parents, a facilitator who worked with school personnel, and training for all intervention teachers. Intervention schools implemented SFA ® in grades K–2 and used their previously planned curriculum in grades 3–5. Some schools took a year to fully implement the program.
Comparison schools continued using their regular, previously planned curriculum for grades K–2 (SFA ® was implemented in grades 3–5). Authors conducted observations at all schools and indicated that there was no evidence that when SFA ® was implemented in grades 3–5, students in grades K–2 were also exposed to SFA ®. All sample students were pretested with the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) prior to SFA ® implementation, and schoolwide PPVT scores show equivalence between the program and comparison schools. Researchers also used information from the Common Core of Data (a database maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics)
at several points over the course of the study to demonstrate the equivalence between the program and comparison schools on race/ethnicity, gender, English as a second language, special education, and free and reduced-price lunch. All equivalency tests were assessed at the school level, and no statistically significant differences were found.
Three subtests of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test were administered during the period reflected in the intervention rating: Word Identification, Word Attack, and Passage
Comprehension.3 (See Appendices A2.1–A2.3 for more detailed descriptions of outcome measures.)
Support for implementation
SFA ® teachers received three days of training during the summer and approximately eight days of on-site follow-up during the first implementation year. Success for All Foundation trainers visited classrooms, met with groups of teachers, looked at data on children’s progress, and provided feedback to school staff on implementation quality and outcomes.