WWC review of this study

Student and Teacher Outcomes of The Superkids Quasi-Experimental Study

Borman, Geoffrey D.; Dowling, N. Maritza (2009). Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, v14 n3 p207-225 2009. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ862877

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
    , grade

Reviewed: February 2023

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Word readingĀ  outcomes—Substantively important positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Stanford Early School Achievement Test (SESAT) - Word Reading

Superkids Reading Program vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
726 students





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.


The study was conducted in 12 schools across the United States with diversity in geographic and demographic characteristics. The Superkids Reading Program was implemented at the classroom level.

Study sample

Students in the study were in kindergarten. The treatment classrooms were comprised of about 55% minority students, compared with 49% in the comparison condition. Students in the treatment classrooms scored 0.03 SD units below the overall grand mean while students in the comparison classrooms scored 0.02 SD units above the grand mean on the baseline composite pretest. Treatment teachers had on average, 16.74 years of experience, 26% had earned a master's degree and 78% were certified in reading, compared with the comparison teachers who had 13.70 years of experience, 30% had attained a master's degree, and 90% were certified in reading. 12 schools participated in the study; 10 schools contained both treatment and comparison classrooms while the 1 school contained only treatment classrooms and 1 school contained only comparison classrooms. The schools were located in a variety of cities and towns across the United States. The average non-White enrollment was about 50% and the free and reduced price lunch participation rate was about 35%. The schools were diverse in terms of geographic and demographic characteristics but mostly served minority children with below national norms on the Total Reading pretest of the Stanford Early School Achievement Test (SESAT).

Intervention Group

The Superkids is a systematic, phonics-based, comprehensive K-2 reading program (this study evaluated Superkids in a sample of kindergarten students). The Superkids emphasizes that reading skills should be developed in parallel with other language skills and covers 13 strands simultaneously and in support of one another: 1. Phonemic awareness 2. Phonics 3. Fluency 4. Comprehension 5. Vocabulary 6. Listening and speaking 7. Handwriting 8. Spelling 9. Expressive writing 10. Early literacy 11. Grammar/usage/mechanics 12. Structural analysis 13. Study skills The kindergarten version of The Superkids consists of 2 levels of instruction. The first level "Meet the Superkids" is the introductory level, which is implemented during the first half of kindergarten. The focus of this level is on 13 letters of the alphabet (5 short vowels and 8 consonants). The second level "Superkids' Club" is implemented during the second half of kindergarten where kids continue to work on decoding and encoding, as well as blending sounds.

Comparison Group

Business as usual: A variety of core reading programs ordinarily implemented across the comparison classrooms. Most teachers mentioned using Saxon Phonics, Houghton-Mifflin, Scott Foresman, and Rigby Phonics.

Support for implementation

As part of The Superkids intervention, teachers participated in a one-day professional development seminar to learn about best practices for teaching The Superkids. In addition, each school received unlimited phone support and 3-5 on-site support visits. The teachers received The Superkids curricular and ancillary materials, which consisted of student books, student whiteboards, teachers' guides, and assessment books.


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