WWC review of this study

The Efficacy of Computer-Based Supplementary Phonics Programs for Advancing Reading Skills in At-Risk Elementary Students

Macaruso, Paul; Hook, Pamela E.; McCabe, Robert (2006). Journal of Research in Reading, v29 n2 p162-172. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ733029

  • Randomized controlled trial
    , grade

Reviewed: June 2009

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Reading achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests (GMRT): Reading subtest

Lexia Reading vs. None


Grade 1;
167 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 48%
    Male: 52%

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First-grade classrooms in a Massachusetts public school district

Study sample

Study participants were first-graders in 10 classrooms spread across five schools, with two classrooms in each school (one treatment classroom and one comparison classroom) participating in the study.The study initially included 92 intervention and 87 comparison students. Twelve students (9 intervention, 3 comparison) left the study when it was determined that they were eligible for special education services.The analysis sample contained 15 Title I students in each of the intervention and comparison groups (Title I students received an additional 30 minutes of academic instruction per day from a Title I staff member).

Intervention Group

Lexia Reading is a computerized, supplementary reading software program designed for regular use, consisting of two to four weekly sessions of 20 to 30 minutes each, in a lab or classroom setting. In the study, intervention students were exposed to two Lexia Reading components: Phonics Based Reading (PBR) and Strategies for Older Students (SOS). The PBR component has 3 levels, 17 skill activities, and 174 units covering basic phonics skills usually taught in grades 1 through 3. After finishing PBR activities, children were introduced to SOS activities, which consist of 5 levels, 24 skill activities, and 369 discrete units. Intervention classes used Lexia Reading software for approximately six months, with children completing an average of 64 sessions and 140 skill units. Most students worked on PBR activities only; 14 students (17%) in the intervention programs moved on to SOS activities, working mainly on early levels.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group classrooms received regular classroom instruction while intervention group classrooms were participating in the Lexia Reading program.

Outcome descriptions

For both pre- and posttest, the authors used the Gates-MacGintie Reading Test, Level BR to assess reading performance. For a more detailed description of this outcome measure and its subtests, see Appendices A2.1, A2.3, and A2.4.

Support for implementation

Teachers in intervention classrooms had an average of 19 years of teaching experience, and teachers in comparison classrooms had an average of 18 years of teaching experience. Teachers in the intervention classrooms and computer lab staff received orientation and training sessions for implementing Lexia Reading software use.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Macaruso, P., Hook, P., & McCabe, R. (2003). The efficacy of Lexia skills-based software for improving reading comprehension. Retrieved February 4, 2009 from Lexia Learning website: http://www.lexialearning.com.au/library/source/research/revere_030912.pdf.


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