WWC review of this study

Effects of a Supplemental Vocabulary Program on Word Knowledge and Passage Comprehension

Apthorp, Helen; Randel, Bruce; Cherasaro, Trudy; Clark, Tedra; McKeown, Margaret; Beck, Isabel (2012). Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, v5 n2 p160-188 2012. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ961442

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grades

Reviewed: September 2023

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Listening comprehension outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Group Reading and Diagnostic Evaluation: Listening Comprehension

Elements of Reading Vocabulary vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
2,803 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.

  • Rural, Suburban
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    Other or unknown


The study took place in one southeastern state in 6 school districts, 3 rural and 3 suburban districts. The study includes 46 schools from the 6 different school districts. Two schools withdrew after random assignment.

Study sample

The authors do not present information on race, gender, or free/reduced price lunch status of the sample.

Intervention Group

Elements of Reading: Vocabulary focuses on teaching students to understand and use tier two words - those that are common in written material but not in verbal communication, and often are more subtle or complicated versions of simple concepts (e.g. abolish, chamber). Units are 5 days long, and begin on the first day with an introduction to the context and meaning of the word through a story, detailed explanations, and illustrated cards. In the following three days, students use the same group of words in different contexts. On the fifth day words were reviewed and assessed. Teachers were asked to use the program for 10-20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, as a supplement to their existing reading program. In the first year of the study, the intervention was used by the schools in one block beginning in November and the other blocks beginning in January; in the second year it was used throughout the year.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group experienced business as usual.

Support for implementation

Researchers conducted orientation sessions at the district level, and reading coaches conducted training for treatment teachers. Teachers implementing the intervention were provided with lesson plans and other program materials.

Reviewed: June 2016

Meets WWC standards with reservations

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

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

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